When Kamloops was awarded the first BC Winter Games, organizers had to develop a cross country ski facility for the competitions. Working with the Ministry of Forests, the Bush-Timber Lake Trails were built and then used as a venue for the 1979 Winter Games. Cross-country skiers continued to use the trails right up to 1985 when the Coquihalla Highway was built right through the middle of the trail system, cutting off access to the trails. To compensate the community, the Ministry designated the Stake Lake area as a recreational area and designed and built the new trail system, which was then managed for a few years by Lac le Jeune Resort, but eventually the contract went to Overlander Ski Club.
When the Coquihalla Highway was built, no turn-offs were added, but two under-the-highway culverts-tunnels were built to provide access from the Lac le Jeune Road over to the flanks of
Greenstone and Chuwhels Mountains. These provided access mainly for ranching and logging, but a number of ATV users, hunters, and motorcyclists started to use the backroads and created some new trails. The cross country ski trails on the west side of the Coquihalla were no longer used by skiers, but sections of the old trails can still be hiked or snowshoed, especially near Timber Lake.
The original Bush Lake access area was the main one for skiers since it was the highest elevation of the three routes. For a number of years, skiers who knew the area continued to use the old trails and backroads to ski, using the Bush Lake parking lot, still available today to recreational users. There are two gates there and the trails/backroads can be used for snowshoeing, off-track cross-country skiing, hiking, and biking.
From the south end of the parking loop, cross the road and go through the gate. The track ahead was the original route, but it is choked with deadfall, so instead, follow the fenceline for 125 metres north and then turn west through a track over to the main backroad. Alternately, go downhill from the north end of the parking loop for 400m and cross the road to access the gate at the end of the backroad.
From the parking area to Bush Lake is only a kilometre. Tracks angle off here and there, all needing further exploration, but there is a nice route heading south up the hill. Over time, we hope to link up some loops for snowshoeing both north and south. On the last day of exploration on these trails, the temperature with wind chill was -23, so return visits are planned, a project for the winter of 2013-2014.