Long Hill

The road to the Trophy Mountains clears up by the end of May, but the hike to the meadows is not worthwhile until later in June.   As the snow melts, the first wildflowers emerge.   By early July, the trails can be hiked right up to Plateau of the Tarns.   South-facing slopes also clear early and hikers can go to the top of some of the Trophy Peaks.   The westernmost part of the Range is Long Hill and the exposed south-facing peak makes a good destination for an early-season summit.

Long Hill 016c

Follow the main trail through the meadows and up the side of Little Hill to Plateau of the Tarns.   Continue toward the large cirque below Trophy 2.   A cairned route leads off west up the steep slopes of Long Hill.   Sometimes the route is hard to spot or crosses snowslopes, but we just continue to aim for the lowest spot on the west ridge finding the "path of least resistance" up the slopes.   This is the easiest and most-forgiving of all the Trophy Summits, but the top is also a nice spot for lunch, offering wide views in each direction.

Long Hill 049c

An early season hike misses the main fourish of wildflowers in the meadows (about August 1st), but the patches of snow in the gullies, the running streams, and the quiet has its own special quality.  

Long Hill 056bc

In the distance, Table and Battle Mountain are directly north, and beyond them, the glaciated peaks of northern Wells Gray.

Long Hill 042c

The top of Long Hill is the destination, but all of the Trophy Mountain Trail has muich to offer.   We enjoy the meadows at any time of the year.

Long Hill 066c

On the way down the mountain, the north side of Raft Mountain invites us for another hike on another day.

Long Hill 068bc

We have hiked Trophy Mountain every year for 35 years and in some years, we go somewhere in the ranges 2-3 times.   This is one we will continue to do for as long as our legs will keep going.

More detailed information on the Trophies can be found at some of these links:

Paddle Heffley

One of the best spots for paddling in our area is Heffley Lake.   If we follow the shoreline (including the bays), we can cover 13 km in all.   Although it can be busy on a warm summer afternoon, it is a long enough lake to accommodate a number of boats.   Kayaks and canoes are frequently seen on the lake, but fishermen and power boaters also use the lake (big boats should find a bigger lake).    The far west end of the lake is the quieter area, but it will take an hour to get out to the turn-around point.  

Heffley Lake 

The launch area is near the campsite.   Go the far east end of the lake and take the one-way campsite road.   Follow the gravel road to the boat launch.

Heffley Lake campsite

This lake is a good choice on weekdays or off-season from ice-off to fall.   On summer weekends, it can be a busy spot and a few bigger boats can spoil the quiet and flatwater for everyone else,  so a smaller lake might be a better choice for paddlers (and the loons) on a sunny weekend afternoon.     We enjoy Heffley Lake, but we pick our times carefully.

Heffley 001

Sunburst to Summit

When the chairlift opens at Sun Peaks Resort, we hike from mid-station at the top of the Sunburst Express to the summit of Tod Mountain.  This is a steady uphill to Top of the World, then an up and down venture to the final hill that is the peak of Tod Mountain.   The return hike is about 9km.   Early in July there are some muddy and wet spots and some snow up near the summit, but overall this is a moderate hike to a nice viewpoint.

Tod Mountain 015c Tod Mountain 008c

The big wildflower show is later in July, but the earlier blooms include anemone, alpine buttercups, shooting stars, marsh marigold, chickweed, spring beauties, and violets.    

Tod Mountain 005c Tod Mountain 028 butterweedc
Tod Mountain 027c Tod Mountain 031c

If you go early in the season, you will see less flowers, wetter conditions, and more bugs, but there will less people too.   The flower show changes every 2 weeks so several visits (early July/later July/August) are recommended before the chairlift shuts down over Labor Day weekend.

More information:

Tod Mountain 021c


East Barriere Lake

The multi-year goal is to paddle all of the lakes in the area and East Barriere Lake was well overdue for a day in the kayak.   The road to the lake is an easy drive and the best launch spot is at the BC Recreation Site boat launch on the northwest corner of the lake.

East Barriere Lake

This is a fairly large lake best paddled on a day that is not too windy.   To paddle the entire shoreline is about 23km.   We went along the north shore to the "scout camp," crossed the lake, and then came back on the south shore, for a day of about 15km of paddling.   The setting is scenic, the water is warm, and the whole area has a wonderful ambience to it.   A number of large homes with large power boats were seen at docks, but this was a Monday and there wasn't much activity.   We assume that it is a busier lake on summer weekends.   We enjoyed lunch on a small beach and a swim afterward in the clear water.   East Barriere Lake is a gem up in the hills. 

East Barriere Lake 001c East Barriere Lake 004c
East Barriere Lake 007c East Barriere Lake 003c


Kirkland Ranch Road Ride

Our friends Steve and Darcy took us on a drive and mountain bike ride from Ashcroft to Spences Bridge.   We took turns with one driving and two riding, switching every 5-10km along the 35 km route (I rode about half, happy to drive, take pictures, and explore).   The route starts at the junction of the the Highland Valley Road (to Logan Lake Road) and the Kirkland Ranch Road, 5.5km from Ashcroft.  


The first 10km of the road is a good gravel road servicing a few homes in the community of Basque:

  • Basque once had vineyards (link to articles).   
  • Basque Siding was also the site for the Last Spike for the Northern Great Railway in 1915.  
  • The Basque Ranch is one of the oldest ranches in BC, going back to the opening of the Cariboo Wagon Road.
  • At the south end of Basque is a pumping station which sends water up tot he Highland Valley mines. 

Beyond Basque the road becomes narrow (one vehicle at a time) and rough.   Careful and slow driving is required.   For mountain bikers, the road goes up and down with some longer climbs and descents along the route.   We saw no other vehicles along the route and no people, but there were some isolated homes and ranches on the Indian Reserves (Munroe, Spatsum, Toketic, and Pemynoos) along the way.   The road bypasses these homes/ranches, but goes through the abandoned Village of Pokeist (see the previous article) with its scenic church.  

Kirkland Ranch Ride 001c Kirkland Ranch Ride 007c
Kirkland Ranch Ride 022c Kirkland Ranch Ride 039c

We passed old fences, fenced graveyards, abandoned vehicles, some cattleguards, gates, and some minor sideroads, but on the whole the area is dry and sees little activity.   The hillsides are covered in sagebrush, grasses, and ponderosa pines.   In some of the larger gullies were small creeks and these narrow oases had a variety of trees and shrubs.   We found a pocket of saskatoons in fruit and stopped for a snack.   Few flowers do well exposed to the dry, hot summer conditions, but we spotted sagebrush mariposa lily and milkweed in bloom.

Kirkland Ranch Ride 041c Kirkland Ranch Ride 034c
Kirkland Ranch Ride 012c Kirkland Ranch Ride 043c

Along the route, we spotted stellar jays, the usual crows and magpies, feral horses, and a clutch of young chukar.   Steve and Darcy have previously seen bighorn sheep along the route.  

At the Spences Bridge end of the road, we rode above a working ranch before we came down to Highway 8, the end of our 35km ride/relay.   We chose to drive through Merritt back to Kamloops to complete a large scenic loop.   On the way back, we scouted sections of the Merritt Subdivision track (from Merritt to Spences Bridge) for a future exploratory ride.