Downriver: Valleyview to Cooney Bay

The North Thompson and South Thompson Rivers provide many days of paddling each year.   Downriver paddles are easier so we try to go at least 20km and arrange for a vehicle at each end.   We started at the Valleyview Boat Launch.   This is a busy spot on weekends with many floaters entering the water to drift down to Pioneer or Riverside Park.   Be sure to park on River Road, not in the boat launch area (or you may be ticketed).  An early start is recommended to get on the river before the invasive power boats.   The first section passes some secluded Valleyview beaches and the Indian Reserve en route to the Yellowhead Bridge.

On our way downriver, we paddled past four and a half bridges.

VVW to Cooney 007rWe went down the north side of Rabbit Island and had a brief break at Mission Flats beaches before heading downstream.   A channel around an island is part of the navigation route to the lake.

VVW to Cooney 017rAs we approached Tranquille and the Kamloops Lake, the river widens.

VVW to Cooney 012rOn the last section of shoreline near Tranquille, some river otters were curious about the paddlers.

VVW to Cooney 022rThe paddle from Valleyview to Cooney Bay takes 3 to 3.5 hours and is safe, easy paddling for all canoes and kayaks.   More sections of the rivers are planned up to the end of the paddling season (November).

Zupjok Peak

We have been working on completing a series of peaks in the Coquihalla Summit area.    Some we have done a number of times and a few are slated for our first ascent.   Zupjok Peak was one of these.

Zupjok MapThe hike starts at the Zopkios Ridge Rest Area and goes northwest following an old double track towards Ottomite Hill.   This is moderate hiking for km.   At a switchback corner, a single track bears northwest through the dense shrubs.    This section is overgrown and hikers have to watch for flagging tape to get through to the base of Zupjok Ridge.   We knew the way from having snowshoed over to Iago Peak in winter.   the trail turns north and starts climbing the ridge to Zupjok in dense forest.   The trail in this section is hard to see so watching for flagging tape is the best strategy.   After 15 minutes of pushing through the bush, the trail opens up and a good trail takes us all the way to the top of the mountain.

Zupjok viewOn a clear day the views from the summit are exceptional.   To the north are Vicuna and Guanaco Peaks.

Zupjok 003rTo the west are the Anderson Peaks, a remote range sometimes used by climbers.

Zupjok 002rWe had lunch on top of Zupjok, then hiked along the ridge toward Llama Peak.   We estimated that it would take about 2 hours each way to get to the top of Alpaca and back so we opted to leave the far summit for another day.

Zupjok 004brOn our way back, views extend in a wide arc to other hikes we have done – Zopkios Ridge, Yak Peak, Needle Peak, Flatiron Mountain, Iago Peak, Zum Peak, and Zoa Peak.   From our high viewpoint, we also saw peaks yet to be done – the Illal Meadows Peaks (Illal, Jim Kelly, and Coquihalla Peaks), Thar and Nak Peaks, July Mountain, Alpaca Peak, and Markhor Peak.   We will also return to hike our favorites again – Flatiron, Zoa, and now Zupjok too.


  • Distance to the summit – 5.6km (about 2 hours)
  • Elevation gain – start at 1183m and summit at 1830m (647m or 2122 ft.)
  • Distance on the lower double track – 3.1km
  • Turn to the flagged single track in overgrown meadows – N49 36.384 W121 09.065
  • Overgrown section of trail – about 1.3km total
  • Turn up the ridge (hard to see) – N49 36.442 W119 09.571
  • Ridge climb to the summit – 1.7 km
  • Summit at N49 37.053 W121 09.359
  • Distance from Zupjok to Llama Peak (along the ridge) – 2.4km
  • Distance from Alpaca Peak (continue along the ridge) – 1.8km
  • This is a very good hike and the only drawback is the middle section which needs a work party to clear the brush.   Bring some loppers if you go.

Mt. Ida

Mt. Ida stands south of Salmon Arm at 1564m (5134 feet).   The upper part of the mountain is all rocky ridges and cliffs making interesting hiking, but the road up is a long and rough 4WD route.

After driving very slowly for 10km, we arrived at the signed parking trailhead area at N50 38.098 W119 17.338 at 1362m elevation.   Trails go east and west from the same spot.

Ida signrWe went to the west peak first, climbing 1km up a ridge to a good viewpoint.   At the end of the ridge is a scramble which extends the route a bit farther.   The actual highest part of the mountain is farther west but is separated by sheer cliffs.   It is possible to scramble down the ridge to the south, drop into the basin below and scramble back up to the true peak, but this would be a slow and careful route without the benefit of additional views.

We liked the viewpoints on the west trail, especially of the rocky north-facing cliffs of Mt. Ida.

Mt. Ida 004rViews extend north to Salmon Arm, Mt. Bastion, the Fly Hills and beyond,

Mt. ida 005rWe went up and back on the west peak trail, then went out onto the East Ida Trail.   This route goes through cedar-hemlock forest for 1.7 km.   We passed a Comshell then at the end of the east ridge, we come out of the forest to a north-facing viewpoint.   Farther back, an open area provides views east past Gardom Lake to the Shuswap River and the Enderby Bluffs.   This is also an out-and-back route.

This hike is a pleasant one, but the road in makes it a tough sell – a long, rough, punishing road and short hike.   Some people park lower and hike the road which may be the way we do it if we go back again.

Mt. Ida 003r

Upper Pinantan Lake

We have enjoyed paddling Pinantan Lake, but we really like paddling up a narrow channel to the hidden upper lake.

Little PinantanThe entrance to the lagoon channel is at the east end of the lake.   It can be paddled in a canoe or kayak, but there is a dam-like blockage partway through that requires getting out of the boat and pulling it over the obstacle.

pinantan 005rIt is easy paddling on the other side and we emerged into the upper lake, an extra one kilometer shoreline loop.

pinantan 011rThere is no road access to the upper lake and it surrounded by swamp and meadows, a peaceful spot that is inaccessible to most other people.   We saw only loons and ducks on the lake on this last paddle.

pinantan 006brLaunching from the community park, we did the shoreline of both lakes, a 6km morning paddle.   The main body of Pinantan allows only electric motors so it is less busy and much less noisy than other area lakes.

pinantan 020rThis is a favorite, one we will return to do every year.

The Flatiron

Flatiron Mountain is another fine hike in the Coquihalla Summit area.   We followed the Needle Peak Trail to the meadow, then we headed over to The Flatiron.

Flatiron 003rThe parking area for The Needle and The Flatiron are the same.   Start at Zopkios Rest area, go through the underpass, and go up toward the works yard.   Turn right onto a dirt road and parking area.   The trail starts to the west and is signed.   The trail climbs steeply through the forest up onto a ridge.   The route then follows the ridge south through a subalpine zone.   At 2.5km at the top end of a meadow, a junction is reached.   The left fork goes up The Needle.     The right goes down into a saddle dropping 87m in elevation, then follows a narrow ridge over to the Flatiron.   At 3.75km, we arrive at Flatiron Lake, a beautiful tarn fed by snowmelt, set in a rocky cirque below the peak.

Flatiron 008rThe slopes above the lake rise for 100 vertical metres.   We can wind our way up the rock bands to the meadows on top of the mountain.   Wide views are the reward for the extra climb.   The Needle stands east and Yak Peak to the northeast.

Flatiron 017rPtarmigans were spotted near the snowmelt zones at the top of the mountain.

Flatiron 020rEither the lake or the alpine meadows seemed to be a perfect spot for an overnight backpack.

Flatiron 018rThe lake made a nice spot for a dip on a hot day.

Flatiron 027rThe Flatiron Trail is a 9.5km out-and-back route.   The first 2 km is very steep, but once we are on the ridge, the route is a fine one with open views for much of the route.

On the way back down, Alpaca, Vicuna, and Guanaco Peaks were directly north.   We will be hiking over to the Zupjok Ridge on the ridge to Alpaca Peak in the next week.

Flatiron 001r