Spring has finally sprung, bringing warmer, longer days perfect for outdoor pursuits – sans skis. Then, chase the sunset with a relaxing patio visit, revisiting the day’s adventures over a cold craft beer or delicious meal you won’t find anywhere else.
Welcome to the ‘Loops!
Spring has long been a favourite for travellers, and visits to one of southwestern B.C.’s most unique locations is no different. Hike to captivating views or paddle with Indigenous guides. Marvel at monarch butterflies and reconnect with the wonders of the natural world.
Even better when you can do it all before the summer crowds come calling!
Indigenous Cultural Journeys
Enjoying an elevation of approximately 2,700 feet above sea level, Kamloops is located at the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers – appropriately, the word ‘Kamloops’ is the English translation of the Shuswap word Tk’emlúps, meaning ‘where the rivers meet.’
The Tk’emlupsemc – the ‘people of the confluence’ – have made their home here for centuries and visitors can experience the paths they still follow today with guides from the Indigenous-owned Moccasin Trails.
Join your Indigenous guide and knowledge keeper on a two-hour ‘Setétkwe’ canoe tour along the South Thomspon River, learning about the Shuswap peoples and hearing traditional songs as you paddle right through the city.
For hikers, join your guide on The Coyote “Sek’lép” Tour, a guided walk that includes the story of how the Coyote was transformed into a traditional landmark on the shores of Kamloops Lake – the Balancing Rock, a huge boulder left delicately balancing on a clay hoodoo. Sek’lép tour hikers enjoy excellent views of Kamloops Lake, benchland slopes and hoodoos below, and learn about native plants and their uses in traditional medicine, before finishing with a song and traditional offering.
Nature in every direction
With its diversity of terrain and elevations, Kamloops boasts hikes for virtually every hiker – and season.
In the spring, its trails are some of B.C.’s first to open up and dry out, followed by breathtaking spring wildflowers. Some, like the Arrow-Leaved Balsam Roots, begin blooming on warm, south-facing slopes as early as late March. In the hills east of Kamloops, look for the delicate white flowers of Western Springbeauty, while Yellow Fritillary shows its cheerful yellow head amid the Sagebrush – abundant in the Lac du Bois grasslands.
Of course, the landscape offers much more than a photo subject. It’s vital for the wildlife at home in the hills around the city, including mammals, birds, bees and other insects. Located on the northern fringe of endangered monarch butterfly habitat, milkweed – their favourite habitat – lines local hiking trails. Be sure to take only photos, and leave the natural environment untouched.
Explore the countryside – hiking or biking
So, where to explore? With easy-to-access destinations around the city, Hike Kamloops is a good place to start.
Here are a few favourites from the locals:
- Located in Peterson Creek Nature Park, the 3.4-kilometre Xget’tem’ Trail is a paved, multi-use trail in the city’s centre. Pronounced Hawk-tum, meaning ‘deep valley,’ the trail has been used by the Secwépemc since time immemorial, and is significant for its many food and medicinal plants used by Indigenous people.
- Part of the 800-hectare Kenna Cartwright Park, on the slopes of Mount Dufferin, the Tower Trail is 3.4-km return with an elevation gain of 145 metres, offering sweeping views of the city and rivers. For more elevated views, extend the hike to the Ridge Trail then loop back to the parking lot via the Ponderosa Trail.
- Almost 15km east from downtown, on the South Thompson River, is the Dallas-Barnhartvale Nature Park, a scenically rewarding six-km hike, with the option of a shorter or longer route. With a moderate elevation gain of 183m, this loop explores hilly grasslands dotted with ponderosa pine, before bringing you to bluffs overlooking the South Thompson River. Enjoy a preserved wetland, native flowers and a picnic pavilion.
3B. The Benchlands Trail is an ideal alternative if you’re tight for time or want to enjoy a grasslands stroll and beautiful river views.
- Venture to Deep Lake via The Westsyde Bench, a 12.5-km return hike with some hills – rewarded with views of the towering Batchelor Range above and the North Thompson River Valley below. Exposed to the drying sun and winds, the hike is quite dry by mid-March and the view from the top makes those hills worth the effort.
Prefer two wheels to two feet? Kamloops offers a variety of established biking trails for a low-impact way to explore the unique countryside.
Part of the larger Rivers Trail network, the 3.25-km multi-use Oak Hills Trail offers two experiences, both following the dyke along the North Thompson River: a flat, wide, packed-gravel route and a narrow, single-track of loose sandy dirt.
And on the south-facing side of the Thompson River, Lac du Bois Grasslands thaws early, creating unreal traction on the 20km of cross-country trails, not to mention gently rolling terrain that’s a great way to ease into the season.
Ready to plan your spring getaway to the ‘Loops? Visit tourismkamloops.com/spring