Hikes in North Thompson Valley
The North Thompson Valley is a gorgeous stretch of rugged and wild terrain within British Columbia’s central interior that expands southward from the Monashee and Cariboo mountains towards Kamloops. Dissected by the imposing North Thompson River - the large tributary of the Fraser River - the landscape in this beautiful region is relatively untouched, yet easily accessible, making it the ideal place to explore and reconnect with nature, no matter the season.
Hiking trails in the North Thompson Valley vary greatly and range from easy city walks to rugged backcountry adventures, and everything in between. Vast stretches of grassland offer the chance to roam the countryside under the great blue sky, while forested hikes further to the north will allow you to explore serene woodland landscapes that are home to some of the most dramatic and beautiful waterfalls that can be found in Canada. Regardless of your age, skill level, or the type of adventure you are after, you can rest assured that a trip to the North Thompson Valley will produce amazing experiences and lasting memories that you won’t soon forget.
The 10 Most Stunning Hikes In the North Thompson Valley
The variety of breathtaking terrain and wild nature of the landscapes within the North Thompson Valley make it an ideal destination for exploring the rugged central interior of British Columbia. Vast swathes of rolling grassland hills, stretches of arid terrain, gorgeous meadows, and dramatic mountain peaks all characterize this nearly untouched region and make it the perfect place to set out on a backcountry adventure. Whether you are looking to access the challenging mountain trails to the north or the family-friendly riverside walks around Kamloops, you will be sure to find your perfect hiking adventure in the North Thompson Valley. Check out this fantastic list of hiking routes that we’ve put together below:
- Stake Lake Cartwheel Trail: This short trail in McConnell Lake Provincial Park will lead you around a charming lake for beautiful views of the water and surrounding woodland landscape. The laidback terrain of the forests and grassland meadows make this quick adventure perfect for a family excursion.
- Margaret Falls Upper Loop: Located in Herald Provincial Park, the Margaret Falls Upper Loop is a wonderful forest hike that will take you to a viewpoint looking onto a stunning waterfall. There are a few steep stretches on this hike, but for the most part it is suitable for hikers of every skill level.
- Battle Bluff Trail: This awesome trail in Kamloops will lead you uphill to a rocky lookout with views that sweep across Kamloops Lake and the surrounding valley landscape. With a moderate overall distance and well-maintained paths that are dog-friendly, this hike is sure to be a hit with the whole family.
- Lac du Bois: A stunning hike through Lac du Bois Grasslands Provincial Park, this trail will lead you through rolling hills and picturesque meadows for amazing lakeside views with a mountain backdrop. This is another dog-friendly trail in the Kamloops area, meaning you won’t need to leave any family members behind when out exploring the area.
- McConnell Lake Trail: A quick adventure just south of Kamloops, the McConnell Lake Trail is a family-friendly experience that will take you through a charming woodland landscape to reach a wonderful lakeside setting.
- Lundbom Lake Loop: This intermediate length trail can be found within the Sugarloaf Mountain Bike Recreation Site and takes you through a beautiful grassland landscape characterized by scenic rolling hills. The easy to navigate terrain and access to countless other routes in the area make this awesome hike suitable for those of beginner and experienced skill levels.
- Rivers Trail: This 12.9 km out-and-back trail near Kamloops will lead you along the Thompson River, providing beautiful views of nearby mountains and the surrounding valley landscape. Bordering the Tranquille Wildlife Management Area, this features some pleasant terrain that is suitable for hikers of nearly every skill level.
- Deep Lake Hike: Another short trail in the Kamloops area, the Deep Lake Hike will take you to a charming lakeside setting with beautiful views of the city. Don’t underestimate this hike, as initial portions of the trail are quite steep and are not suitable for everyone.
- Cinnamon Ridge Trail: Offering beautiful views of nearby hoodoo rock formations, the Cinnamon Ridge Trail is a 1.8 km hike that can be found just west of Kamloops. For more experienced adventurers that want a more challenging route, the trail continues uphill through a stretch of steep and rugged terrain.
- Gibraltar Rock: This short 3.2 km trail will take you to the lookout at Gibraltar Rock for some stunning views overlooking Paul Lake and the surrounding valley landscape. Be bear aware for this adventure, as a nearby campsite often attracts bears that are in search of an easy food source.
When is the Best Time to Hike in the North Thompson Valley?
While the North Thompson Valley is a great destination for year-round exploration, some seasons will definitely provide a more comfortable experience than others when out hiking the trails in the region. As the valley lies in the immediate rainshadow of the Coast Mountains and Cascade Range, summer here will produce some of the hottest weather in Canada, with temperatures often above the 40 ℃ threshold. As such, the most pleasant time of year to explore this beautiful region by foot is in the spring and fall seasons, when temperatures are warm and weather is mild.
Other Outdoor Activities in the North Thompson Valley
In addition to hiking, the diverse landscape of the North Thompson Valley offers access to a number of other popular outdoor activities throughout the various seasons. Fishing, mountain biking, golfing, horseback riding, and watersports like white water rafting, kayaking and canoeing are all popular activities during the summer. For those looking to explore the region during the winter, skiing (both cross-country and downhill), snowshoeing, and dog sledding are all popular activities. No matter what season or activity you are after, the North Thompson Valley offers a wealth of possibilities to enjoy its breathtaking landscapes.
Frequently Asked Questions About the North Thompson Valley
What is the Thompson Valley?
Centred around the hub city of Kamloops, the Thompson Valley can be found in the central interior of British Columbia along the North and South Thompson Rivers.
What type of fish are in the North Thompson River?
As a major tributary of the Fraser River, the North Thompson River is home to a variety of migratory fish species, as well as others that are confined to its waters year-round. Fish species that can be found here are Salmon (Sockeye, Chinook, Coho, Pink), Sturgeon, Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, and Mountain Whitefish.
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Best Hikes in North Thompson Valley
Stake Lake Cartwheel Trail
The Stake Lake Cartwheel Trail is a 2.6 km hiking circuit within McConnell Lake Provincial Park that will take you along the edge of a beautiful woodland lake for some scenic views looking out across the water. Along the trail, you will experience an amazing forest setting of mature trees, as well as charming stretches of grassland meadows that feature wildflowers in the summer months. With flat terrain and gorgeous views, this is a quick hike that can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts of any skill level.
Margaret Falls Upper Loop Trail
The Margaret Falls Upper Loop is a 5.5 km hiking circuit in Herald Provincial Park that climbs uphill through the forest along Reinecker Creek and offers some amazing views of the falls. Along the trail, you will experience a scenic forest setting filled with mature trees and other types of vegetation, as well as some amazing views of Margaret Falls and Shuswap Lake. This route is made up of wide paths that are well maintained, so while some stretches are a bit steep, they are easily manageable for hikers of most skill levels.
McConnell Lake Trail
The McConnell Lake Trail is a 3.7 km hiking circuit south of Kamloops, BC, that will allow you to explore the natural beauty of the woodland landscape within McConnell Lake Provincial Park. Along the trail, you will experience a tranquil forest setting that offers some picturesque views across the calm waters of the lake. Featuring flat terrain and amazingly scenic views, this trail is a fun, family-friendly experience that will get you out enjoying the wonderful trails in the Kamloops area.
Lac du Bois Hike
The Lac du Bois Trail follows a 10.3 km out-and-back hiking route in Kamloops, BC, that will allow you to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the terrain that makes up the Lac du Bois Grasslands Provincial Park. Along the trail, you will have views of beautiful rolling hills, charming grassland meadows, the picturesque lake, and rugged mountains in the backdrop. In addition to being a family-friendly hike, this trail is also dog-friendly, providing the perfect opportunity for your canine companions to run free through the open grassland terrain.
Lundbom Lake Loop
The Lundbom Lake Loop is a 15.1 km hiking circuit within the Sugarloaf Mountain Bike Trail Recreation Site that sets out from the edge of the lake and traverses a beautiful grassland landscape filled with rolling hills. With easily traversable terrain, breathtaking scenery, and access to numerous other routes, this is a fantastic hiking option for both casual and experienced hikers alike. This trail is popular with hikers, mountain bike enthusiasts, and horseback riders, so make sure to pay attention when out on the trail and provide enough space for others to pass.
Deep Lake Hike
The Deep Lake Hike is a 3.4 km hiking circuit in Kamloops, BC, that will take you through the grassland terrain to a small hillside lake. Along the trail, you will have some amazing views looking over the city and surrounding mountains, and of course the picturesque lake that is framed by the green grass and blue sky above. While the trail is fairly easy overall, the initial stretch is quite steep and may limit mobility for some hikers.
Coyote Crossing Hike
The Coyote Crossing Hike is a 2.9 km out-and-back hiking route in Kamloops, BC that will take you through the Valleyview Nature Park for some elevated views of the Thompson Valley. Along the trail, you will gradually climb uphill through the beautiful grassland landscape and experience views of the surrounding hills and mountains that frame the valley. This trail is also popular with mountain bikers, so keep an eye out on the trail and leave enough room for them to safely pass.
Battle Bluff Trail
The Battle Bluff Trail is a 5.3 km out-and-back hiking route in Kamloops, BC that will take you uphill to a rocky bluff with some amazing views overlooking Kamloops Lake and the North Thompson Valley. Although the route does have some steep sections, overall, it is a pleasant hike with well-maintained trails that make it perfect for a family-friendly excursion with some scenic views. This trail is also dog-friendly, meaning that you won’t need to leave your canine companions at home while the rest of the family is out exploring the beautiful outdoors.
The Rivers Trail is a 12.9 km out-and-back hiking route in Kamloops, BC, that follows closely alongside the Thompson River to provide scenic views of the mountainous landscape. The hike borders the Tranquille Wildlife Management Area to the west and passes through the narrow tract of land between the river and the airport, reaching its terminus at Crestline Park. This route features flat, well-maintained trails that are suitable for hikers of all skill levels, including dogs.
McGillivray Lake Trail
The McGillivray Lake Trail is an 8.5 km lollipop hiking route that sets out from the Sun Peaks Mountain Resort and heads through a beautiful forest to a charming woodland lake. Along the hike, you will experience a tranquil forest setting and some amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Although there are several intersecting paths, this trail is well marked from start to finish. Follow the blue markers on the way to the lake and the orange markers on the way back to avoid getting lost. You will be required to purchase a hiking pass to utilize the trails in this area.
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