Black Canyon is a narrow spot among black cliffs where the Thompson River takes a curved path. It can’t be seen from Highway 1, nor from the Highland Valley Road so hikers have to turn onto the Kirkland Ranch Road which goes down the east side of the river to Spences Bridge. Much of the land in the area is private property, but there is one section of Crown Land just past the Sundance Guest Ranch. At a gate we parked and then hiked down to the river and back.
There is no trail to Black Canyon, but there are some single tracks used by cows and horses and some double tracks used by ranchers and the railroads. We combined these and made our way down to a hilltop above Black Canyon. Along the way were patches of bitterroot. At the hilltop, the CN line crossed the river and went through a tunnel on the west side.
Below Black Canyon the river continues downstream on its way to the confluence with the Fraser River at Lytton.
This was an open, shadeless 7km route from the Kirkland Ranch Road down to Black Canyon with lots of elevation loss on the way down and a warm, steep climb back up. Black Canyon is a very nice spot and worth the drive and the hike, but it would probably be a lot more fun to go down in a raft with Kumsheen instead, going through the rapids on the way to Spences Bridge.