Joss Peak

We returned to Joss Peak in 2015 on a hot, hazy day in the summer.   It takes about 2.5 hours to get up to the trailhead of Joss from Kamloops.   At Three Valley Gap, we turned south onto the Wap FSR and at the 6.0km mark, we turned up onto a high-clearance road in an active logging area.   After about 10km of climbing, a sign marks the parking area and trailhead (at N50 50.369 W118.29.941).

From the start, the trail is steep, climbing through cedar-balsam forest to a subalpine ridge, then through meadows to the alpine summit.   Flagging tape marked the route to the peak.

Climbing the upper part of the mountain, the route skirts cliffs to access the summit meadows.

Joss Peak 005brIt is obvious that a glacier had been in the shaped-eroded cirques on both sides of the mountain, but now only late-season snowfields remain.   Note the Dominion Forestry Lookout on top of the mountain.   It was built in 1921 and restored in the 1960’s.   We noticed it had been further restored since last year.

Joss Peak 008rThe lookout makes a fine place for lunch.   Views of the highest peaks of the Monashees lie to the east and south east.

Joss Peak 010rA third of the route is through alpine meadows with open views.

Joss Peak 019rIn a dry summer and late in the summer, a few wildflowers could be found at the upper altitudes where some snowmelt has seeped through the ground.

Joss Peak 004r Joss Peak 003r

We really like Joss Peak and we will return to hike the trail again.   We haven’t yet taken the longer east approach (article) so that may be our choice in an upcoming summer venture.


Trophy Views

The premier hike of our area is into the Trophy Mountains in Wells Gray Provincial Park.   It is a 2 hour drive from Kamloops to the trailhead.   The trail is a good one with a large parking lot, signs, and a well-graded trail.   We can hike up to the end of the trail in 2 hours and from there, we can go to one of several summits or we can scramble over to other alpine areas.   One the way up into the meadows, Raft Peak dominates views on our south side.

Trophy Tarns 081r story 2Once we are up into Plateau of the Lakes, four of the seven Trophy summits can be seen.   Trophy One is the highest of the peaks.

Trophy Tarns 079 story1To our north, Long Hill and Trophy 2 stand above, inviting a hike to the skyline.

Trophy 1 story 3Once we are high enough, we can see Dunn Peak beyond Raft Mountain to the southeast.   Dunn is the tallest of the peaks of our area.

Trophy Tarns 061r story 3From atop Trophy Two, Table Mountain, Battle Mountain and the northern Wells Gray Peaks extend north as far as we can see.

Trophy 028r storyThe glaciers of the Premiers Range at the northeast end of Wells Gray Park are the source of the North Thompson River

Trophy 035r storyAnd, with binoculars or a long lens, Mount Robson can be spotted standing farther to the northeast, the tallest peak of the Interior.

trophies 015r story 6The Trophy Mountain meadows, tarns, ridges, cirques, and wildflowers are special enough to bring us to hike there, but the additional views are a bonus to this special spot.

Scramble Painted Bluffs

Each time I return to Painted Bluffs,  I pick a different month and hike a different route, and every time I hike in the park, I am rewarded with a visual kaleidoscope of colors and shapes of the Bluffs badlands terrain.

Painted Bluffs 032brOn this last trip I paddled across from Savona, landed on the beach, then hiked into the wash at the foot of the bluffs.

Painted Bluffs 004rAll routes from the foot of the bluffs will involve some scrambling.   Some routes are easier, following well-established erosion gullies and hikable ridges.

Painted Bluffs 012crThe steeper sections require some route-finding and careful scrambling.

Painted Bluffs 010rOn a bright day, I try to keep the sun behind me for the photos to be taken along the route, but since the park faces south, the shots have to be taken obliquely once up in the upper parts of the park.

Painted Bluffs 015rMost people who travel to the bluffs never get up to the middle or top of the bluffs where there are new perspectives to be gained.

Painted Bluffs 029rIron, copper, and cinnabar stain the bluffs and water and wind erosion have created the gullies and ridges.   The bluffs are mostly barren badlands right down to the tracks.

Painted Bluffs 030brAll of the scrambling up through the bluffs, then over the hills and back down is slow work and care must be taken to avoid falls and also to reduce any human erosion to the bluffs.   This last route was about 5km and took 2 hours.

Painted Bluffs 047rThe paddle over and back is about 2.5 hours plus the 2 hour hike, a good workout on a hot day (with no shade at all), but it is always a privilege to scramble Painted Bluffs.

“Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear-the earth remains, slightly modified. The earth remains, and the heartbreaking beauty where there are no hearts to break….I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun.”
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness

Needle Peak

Needle Peak is a destination hike in the Coquihalla Summit for hikers, skiers, and snowshoers from the Coast, Fraser Valley, and Interior of BC.   There is an abundance of information on this hike online and in guidebooks.   We start at the Zopkios Ridge Rest area (through the tunnel and bear west) and we climb steeply through the cedar-hemlock forest to the end of the ridge.   The second leg follow the ridgeline in a sub-alpine zone up to the top of the meadow that separates The Needle from the Flatiron.   From the meadow, the trail climbs through rockbands to the base of bluffs.   This is the most difficult section and hikers have to scramble up the cliffs.   Some exposure will be encountered so the upper section is not for everyone.   Once on top of the summit ridge, we bear east to the base of the final peak and we have to go through the Eye of the Needle (a chimney) to get to the top, a small area surrounded by cliffs.   This track was taken on the way down, starting just below the Eye.

The trail up is a steep one.  The views improve all the way up though.   The Needle stands above the trail to our southeast.

Needle 004rAn equally pleasing hike is to follow the Needle Trail but bear west at the top of the ridge meadow over to The Flatiron.

Flatiron 003rFrom the top of the Needle, views extend down through the Cascades south, over to the Coquihalla Summits north and east, and over to the Coast Range to the west.

Needle 007rThe Needle has become a must-do hike and can be a busy spot, especially on weekends in the summer, but it is also skied and hiked in the winter.   I do enjoy The Needle, but think that The Flatiron, Guanaco, and Zupjok Peak (and beyond to Alpaca) are excellent too.   Do The Needle once, then try the others too.


  • Trailhead start – N49 35.705 W121 07.524
  • Steep forested section – 1.1 km
  • Lower Ridge section – 2.7km
  • Junction – The Flatiron or The Needle – N49 34.179 W121 07.524
  • Junction to Peak – 1km
  • Summit at 2074 m (6805 ft.)
  • Total elevation gain – 870m (2854m)
  • Not recommended for wet conditions; the route is steep, rocky and rooty which becomes very slippery (many falls and injuries have happened on this trail)

Paddle to Painted Bluffs

Every year a paddle across Kamloops Lake to Painted Bluffs is planned, but I vary the hike in the hills.   To avoid the strong winds that can blow down Kamloops Lake in summer, I watch the weather forecast carefully.   This year the launch point was in Savona and a double loop was chosen, one on the lake, and one in the hills.

The 2km crossing of Kamloops Lake is best done in calm conditions in a seaworth kayak.   The south-facing barren hills across the lake rise above the north shore of the lake.

PB x H2O 001rPassing Copper creek, the edge of Painted Bluffs Provincial Park comes into view.

PB x H2O 005rBy July there is a good beach landing spot in the bay past the train tunnel.

Painted Bluffs 050rFrom the beach, there is no trail up the shoreline and over the tracks.   There is some poison ivy above the waterline, but also a number of wildflowers there and above in the hills.

Painted Bluffs 001r


white clematis

white clematis

blazing star

blazing star

Painted Bluffs 049r

poison ivy

The shapes, colors, and alien landscapes of Painted Bluffs comes into view right after crossing the tracks.

Painted Bluffs 011rThe park area is surrounded by rocky grass-covered hills overlooking Kamloops Lake.  A loop through the bluffs and then up to the tops of the hills was part scramble and part hike.   The view east extends past Six Mile Point and Peregrine Bluffs.

Painted Bluffs 034rLast year I launched from Tobiano, following the shoreline west from Peregrine Bluffs.

Painted Bluffs 027rIt is about 13.5 km to paddle from the east end of Savona to Painted Bluffs and back.   The lake was calm on the return paddle, about 1.25 hours each way.

PB x H2O 006rThis is an annual event within the summer schedule, one of the best paddling routes of our area.