When you want to explore Kamloops and the area, but need to be back by sundown, consider a trip along Lac le Jeune Road. A more laidback alternative to the mighty Coquihalla Highway 5 heading south, Lac le Jeune Road leads to three provincial parks with plenty of activities to bring you back to nature. When you’re done, loop back to Kamloops on the Coquihalla. Here are a few places to get out and explore and activities to try.
McConnell Lake Provincial Park
First up heading south, the clear waters of McConnell Lake are a popular destination for canoers, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders (SUP). While there’s no developed beach for swimming here, the lake is known for its rainbow-trout fishing, and in the winter you can go ice fishing.
Hiking at McConnell Lake
There’s a primitive trail around McConnell lake, a loop of about 3.5 kilometres that takes about 1.5 hours return. According to Hike Kamloops, this is a family-friendly hike in summer and fall but watch for tree roots and uneven terrain. You’ll find more extensive hiking trails at Stake Lake a few minutes’ drive down the road.
Lac le Jeune Provincial Park
Further south you’ll find this popular park, which offers a great base for campers in the summer and convenient amenities for day-trippers as well.
Picnicking at Lac le Jeune
This is the place to bring the family and kick back for the day. Head to the grassy, lakeside day-use area, which has over 30 picnic tables a picnic shelter for temperamental weather. There’s a sandy beach with a designated swimming area, or get out further on the lake with a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. Dogs on a leash are welcome here too, with a restricted area for pets on the beach.
Fishing at Lac le Jeune
Lac le Jeune is renowned for its fishing; the “fighting rainbow trout” here run an average of 1.5 kilograms each. With a large fishing platform in the day-use area, this is an accessible spot for angling and a great place to take kids in the spring, according to the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC.
For those who would rather go for a hike or jump on a bike, this park offers access to the Gus Johnson trail and the extensive Stake Lake Trail system. The eight-kilometre Gus Johnson Trail circles the lake through the forest and wet meadows. Keep an eye out for wildlife here, including moose, bear, and lynx, and enjoy birdwatching along the lakeshore with waterfowl and elegant great blue heron.
Walloper Lake Provincial Park
Head west on Meadow Creek Road, and just before you connect with the Coquihalla Highway you’ll find this small lake, which is surrounded by open lodgepole pine, spruce, and fir forest.
Facilities here are more basic than at Lac le Jeune. Bring a picnic to enjoy at the day-use picnic area, or go for a swim, canoe, or kayak on the lake. The wharf also offers opportunities for fishing.