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Favourite Early Season Hike- Visit the Grasslands Today!

Hiking the Grasslands

Written by Doug Smith

From the “meeting of the waters” in Kamloops the hills rise above the valley on every side offering hikers an opportunity to walk through the grasslands in 3 seasons.   The hills first start to clear of snow in early March opening up trails in the lower grasslands.  

Right on the edge of the City is the 15000 hectare Lac du Bois Provincial Grasslands Protected Area (BC Parks) and the Lac du Bois Road goes north into the lower grasslands, then up through the middle grasslands to the upper grasslands near McQueen Lake.   Hikers and mountain bikers go to the sagebrush and bunchgrass lower grasslands by driving up through Batchelor Hills for 2 km to a signed parking area and trail network directions.   Wildflowers appear in March with sage buttercups, yellow bells, making the first appearance.   Meadowlarks sing from their perches on sagebrush and bluebirds flit through the treeless landscape.

By driving farther up the Lac du Bois Road, hikers can venture into the middle grasslands. The sagebrush disappears and bunchgrass dominates the rolling hills. At 9km there is a small parking area on the right directions for a trail that wanders past ponds and over open hills to views of 1.5 km Long Lake. Curlews and sharp-tail grouse can be spotted in this zone in the spring. Ducks and geese dabble and dive on the ponds.   Killdeer and a variety of smaller grasslands birds keep low around the wet areas. Raptors circle overhead.   Burrowing owls are native to the area. Wildflowers bloom in spring covering the slopes with spring beauties, old man’s whiskers, buttercups, camas, woodland star, yellow bells, vetch, yellow daisies, alumroot, and many more link to Kamloops Wildflowers video.  

The upper grasslands can be explored at Lac du Bois and for 3 km beyond (directions). Small lakes, aspen groves, and hills with open forests of douglas fir can be explored on foot. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has a protected area allowing low-impact recreation to this unique habitat.   Bears, deer, and a wide variety of wildlife can be spotted if hikers walk quietly on tracks to the east and west. Chocolate lilies and a display of shooting stars, tiger lilies, lupine, fairyslippers, sticky geranium, clematis, and many more varieties that  greet hikers from May to July. Waterfowl can be spotted on a number of small lakes and ponds.   All tracks are unsigned, but most are in open terrain so hikers can pick their own routes.

There are other trails to explore the lower grasslands. Valleyview Nature Park , Deep Lake , and the Barnes Lake Trails are good options for short hikes. Kamloops has dozens of routes, tracks, and trails into BC’s rare and valuable grasslands ecosystem.

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Top 5 Unique Hikes in Kamloops

Guest Writer and Photographer: Doug Smith

April 2016

 

Kamloops lies at the junction of two river valleys and in every direction, the hills rise up to the Interior Plateau.   The drier climate in the City and in the surrounding valleys supports grasslands and open forest slopes.  Above those slopes, forest covers the higher elevations of the Interior Plateau.   Hikers can pick from dozens of trails that explore the grasslands hills, mountainous slopes, or upland forests.  Some of the Kamloops’ best hikes are featured here.

 

  1. Battle Bluff

The Battle Bluff Trail starts in the Dewdrop Range, a protected grasslands area west of Kamloops overlooking Kamloops Lake.   The trail climbs over some low hills, then drops to a lower open bench before climbing a rocky bluff to a viewpoint over the lake.   The moderate-level trail is a 5 km return hike.   The viewpoint on top of Battle Bluff is the featured spot of the route, but while hiking the trail, watch for bighorn sheep, deer, coyotes, hawks, and eagles.  

The road to the Dewdrop Range is a 20 minute drive from the Kamloops North Shore (directions).   The parking area and trailhead is on the left at a Parks BC sign (more information).

 

  1. Dewdrop Trail

The lava cliffs of Red Plateau rise 2000 feet above the Dewdrop Range.   From the trailhead, the route approaches the bottom of the cliffs then winds up a gully and onto a ridge which brings hikers to the rim of the escarpment.   The trail continues west along the tops of the cliffs with open views to the east, south, and west.   There are several good viewpoints on the way up, but if the goal is to have lunch on the top, the hike is 4 km up.   Since the trail continues west for a few more kilometers you can pick your turn-around point, retracing your steps down the slopes to the start.

The road to the trails the same as the one to Battle Bluff (directions). The trailhead is 800m east of the trail to Battle Bluff on the north side of the road (more information).

 

  1. Mara Canyon

Right on the edge of town, Mara Mountain stands over the floodplain of the Thompson River on Tranquille Road.   The mountaintop stands 700 m above, but we can start hiking right next to the road.   This is an informal (but popular) trail inside the Lac du Bois Protected area.   Although some hikers park on the side of Tranquille Road and cross the CN Tracks, it is much safer to use the level road crossing at Ord Road, taking the left turn, parking at the end of the road.   From there, a single track trail winds up through the sagebrush and splits into two.   Take the left fork as it climbs a hill next to the canyon.   Follow the track for 0.5 km and watch for a turn down to the canyon floor.   The route continues up the dry stream course for 1km where the terrain opens up.   A trail goes to the right to the top of the ridge (a good place to have lunch).   Turn there and follow the ridge south to complete a loop route of about 4 km.   The canyon features hoodoos, ragged erosion features, colorful cliffs, and fine views from the ridge.   This rugged trail requires good hiking shoes/boots and trekking poles are recommended.  

Directions and more information can be found here.  Click here to view a feature article on Mara Canyon.

 

  1. Sunset – Mesa Trails

Kenna Cartwright Park is the largest city park (800 hectares) in British Columbia.  There are over 36 designated trails ranging from easy to difficult.   Hikers can combine trails to their own interests (Kenna Cartwright Park  map). One of the best trails on the slopes of Mount Dufferin is a series of single and double tracks on the west end of the park.   There are several official trailheads to choose from, but the one on Hillside Drive will be the best choice.   Follow the Ponderosa Trail over to Sunset Trail to go to the viewpoint to enjoy the view out to Kamloops Lake, then follow the Mesa Trail as it winds its way through gullies, over ridges, up to viewpoints, working its way back Ponderosa again to return to the parking area, a 8km route on open slopes with many views.  

 

  1. Grasslands Community Trail

North of Kamloops is the Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area, 15 712 hectares of grasslands, dry forests, hills, ponds, mountains, and a wide variety of habitats and terrain, all in close proximity to each other, but also close to Kamloops.   One trail traverses multiple ecological zones from its high point in the McQueen Lake- Isobel Lake area down to the end of the trail near Deep Lake.  
This trail is best done using a two vehicle system.   Leave a vehicle lower down on Ida Lane (or at Westsyde Shopping Center) and start the hike at the trailhead in the forest at 990m elevation.   Follow the signed trail through the forest on the east side of Griffin Lake staying outside the McQueen Lake Environmental Education Center over to meadows east of Clay Lake.   The trail then winds through the forest and down through the gully of McQueen Creek before emerging into the open upper grasslands.   The final section of the 14 km trail climbs over hills before dropping down to the lower grasslands near Deep Lake, then out to Ida Lane. 

Directions on how to find the trailheads is found here and a featured article on the trail is found here – Grasslands Community Trail.

 

There are hundreds of trails to explore in the Kamloops area. Hikers and snowshoers take to the trails in all 4 seasons. We will see you on the trails.

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A Summer Daycation in Kamloops, BC!

What I wouldn’t do for an afternoon in Kamloops soaking up the sun, hitting a patio, enjoying conversations over a glass of vino and tasty eats. No kidding, we found just that in the heart of downtown. 

 

I have to say this was my first and definitely not last trip to Moxie’s Grill and Bar in Kamloops. As a vegetarian it’s not always the easiest of tasks to find a mainstream eatery that offers many options but there was literally too many to choose from that we’ll have to go back.  So my partner-in-crime chose to indulge in the chicken enchiladas and I experienced the fish tacos but subbed the fish for soy protein (a-mah-zing!). I love that you can sub almost any dish with soy protein - next time I think I'll try the red thai curry bowl with soy protein...Mmmm.

What a great atmosphere - more of an upscale pub feel with moderate pricing and sports on the tube. Even the hallway to the powder room was quite quaint with bookshelves placed in contemporary brick-laid walls.

For hours, menu and more info head to their website here.

Following a delicious afternoon we took a short skip, hop and a jump over to Riverside Park (ok it was across the street, so maybe just a skip) and took a stroll down the River’s Trail to Pioneer Park with the hound!  The beach, sand and the cool Thompson River on this mighty hot afternoon felt so refreshing for us all. 

Still fueled up from a powerful lunch we ventured up to Peterson Creek about a 15 minute walk from downtown and hiked up to the waterfalls. It's hard to believe we have all this within minutes of the downtown core.

The lovely views and lightly misted air from the waterfall was the perfect end to a fantastic afternoon hike in the sun.  Now, if only I could press the repeat button!

~Moto Meghan

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Bigger than Stanley Park ~ Kenna Cartwright Park

Bigger than Stanley Park" ~ Take a read of the latest Westworld article highlighting our very own, beautiful Kenna Cartwright Park. http://digital.canadawide.com/i/258790 (Page 19).

 

 

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Kamloops Kendel Meets.... The Dog Whisperer!

For anyone who follows our blog or social media pages - it's no surprise that our entire office is full of dog lovers. So, you can imagine our delight and excitement to hear that Cesar Millan was making a stop in Kamloops on his Canadian Tour. To be honest, when I first heard about this a few months back, I didn't think it was true. However, Kamloops is really starting to hold its' own in the concert and events department. Over the past few years, we have had several large name acts pass through (literally), so why wouldn't this be true!

I have to say, I have been a dog owner and lover all of my life! Here's a photo montage to prove it:

(1987) My mom handing me my very first puppy -  'Pickles' Cocker Spaniel

 

(1990) 'McGoo' - Shepherd Cross


(1993) 'Patches' - Sheltie

 

(2007)   'Rufus' - Rodesian Ridgeback Cross

(2012) 'Kona' & 'Bailey' - Boxer x Shepherd & Boxer x Lab

Seeing Cesar live was such a great opportunity and even for non-dog owners, his show was really entertaining and funny and he had alot of good advice for life in general. Cesar - if you ever read this blog post... I just want to thank you on behalf of Tourism Kamloops for picking our City as one of your stops!

The Tourism Kamloops Team (missing Lee & Kris)

Our events calendar is jam packed with more exciting stuff for 2013 - Check it out!

~ Kamloops Kendel

 

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Dogs love Kamloops! Watch our new Commercial!

Watch our new Fall Campaign commercial here:

 



 

Want to win a dog friendly vacation to Kamloops? Enter here: www.tourismkamloops.com/luckydog

For more ideas and things to do with your dog - check this out: http://www.tourismkamloops.com/home_showSection_ID_810.html
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I Heart BC Wildlife Park

I’ve been pretty fortunate to have spent quite a bit of time at the BC Wildlife Park, located just 10 minutes east of downtown Kamloops, as a kid and now as an adult. Whether I’ve emceed events or have just been a visitor, the BC Wildlife Park is a great place to spend an hour or two, or an entire afternoon.



Now that we’re heading into September and the leaves are going to start changing colours, the Park is a gorgeous place to spend time with the family. There are 65 different species of animals which include two new grizzly cubs named Dawson and Knute – and boy, are they a big draw! Another big draw is the miniature train – I’ve got at least a dozen rides under my belt and it’s a great way to see the Park. I generally suggest to friends that they do the train ride first as it gives you a general overview of what you can see and do.

This fall, my family and I are coming up to Kamloops for our first ever visit for Boo at the Zoo at the BC Wildlife Park. I’m told the Park transforms into a Halloween playground with a Freaky Family Farm, Haunted Maze, Haunted House, pyrotechnics show and costume contests. Plus there are lots of opportunities to see wolves, owls and bears. This year’s event is October 19 – 21 and 26 – 28.

And not to rush the season, but I highly recommend making plans now to attend the Wildlights event. This is simply the most outstanding Christmas light display I have ever witnessed…with hundreds of thousands of lights, not only in the trees but also in the shapes of animals! It is a highlight of the holiday season for sure running December 14 – January 6.



Watch my YouTube visit here:



 

Until next time,

Mark Madryga

 

 
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You Scream, I Scream, We all Scream for Gelato!

The weather in Kamloops is warm, so that makes for a delightful time consuming the best summer treat … ice cream. But have you ever had gelato? I haven’t, until today and sad to say, I’m hooked.

A beautiful afternoon in Kamloops, and my two boys and I were taking a nice walk down the brick sidewalks of Kamloops. The trees have exploded into various shades of green and people are out walking their dogs, wearing sunglasses and sporting flip flops. I was looking for coffee and walked into the locally owned Zack’s Coffee, and what to my boy’s wondering eyes should appear, but a case full of specialty gelato. I’m an ice cream fan, as are they, but there’s something about the presentation of that Italian style ice cream known as gelato, sitting there looking all yummy and covered with special oozing icings and chocolate drippings.


The lady at Zack’s was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. She asked if the boys would like to sample before making their decisions, and after two samples for my 6 year old, and ahem … FIVE samples for my 8 year old, the youngest went for chocolate and chocolate chip and the eldest picked vanilla and chocolate. Of course, as their loving mother, I made sure I helped them finish the gelato which was so nicely put into their little cupcake-style cups.


I still did get my coffee and we sat outside on their sidewalk patio enjoying watching the people pass by, loving the sun and happy that summer has now been welcomed by a scoop (or two) of gelato! Mmmmm!

 

~ Awesome Aleece
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Wild! Fresh! And Oh So Natural!

Posted on July 4th, 2012
Kamloops’ Farmers’ Markets are a true delight for the veggie lovers out there. Some of you might be thinking …“But Mark, I HATE vegetables and now that I’m older, I just won’t eat them.” If I can’t convince you to try the difference truly fresh veggies make in their taste and quality, then how about I tempt you with other delectable items like fruits, homemade breads, honey sticks, native-made bannock and tasty sweets.

[caption id="attachment_521" align="alignnone" width="295" caption="Mark, 1964 - Age 1. Retrieving vegetables from a Woodwards shopping bag."][/caption]

 

Now we’re talking, right?! There are actually FOUR Farmers’ Markets in Kamloops which sell local produce and products from April through October. My Mom and Dad had a great garden when we lived in Kamloops and we were never short of fresh peas, carrots, beans, corn and tomatoes. I for sure ate more veggies when I was a kid, but the Farmers’ Market is a fun place to meet the farmers, growers, bakers and makers of great food, which more than makes me happy for good, healthy produce… yes, even veggies!

[caption id="attachment_522" align="alignnone" width="295" caption="Mark, 1968 - age 5. Planting garden in backyard with dad in North Kamloops"][/caption]

 

So what’s your favourite vegetable? Mine is asparagus, believe it or not. We used to pick it wild when I was little, out by the Kamloops Airport. And for fruit, I'm a berry kind of guy… blueberries and raspberries, and oh yes, I definitely love watermelon!

[caption id="attachment_523" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Mark, 1970 - Age 7. Posing with big vegetable garden in North Kamloops."][/caption]

 

So head out to one of the Farmers’ Markets this year in Kamloops, meet the locals and stock up on some really amazing food!

~ Mark Madryga

 

 
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Find out how Mark Madryga's Stand In fills in for Let Loose Lisa!

Kamloops Kendel catches Let Loose Lisa slacking off from work.... but who is Standing In for her back at the office answering the phone???

 

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