Places to paddle in the Shuswap

Adams Lake

The tide is beginning to turn. Shuswap’s reputation as a mecca for high-speed, motorized aquatic recreation is slowly evolving into a destination for low-impact, sustainable, environmentally friendly, healthy paddling. The Shuswap Trail Alliance wants to encourage this transition by promoting what will be called “Blueways.” They hope to work with their partners to create a Blueways guidebook that will complement its popular trail guide and mesh with Secwepemc traditional values.
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The Haig-Brown Legacy

There is an effort underway to re-name Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park with a Secwepemc name. While it may be considered appropriate to recognize local First Nation’s over 9,000 years of life here with a name change, it would also be disrespectful to reject the contributions of one of BC’s most respected conservationists whose efforts led directly to the creation of the park. Although Haig-Brown passed away in 1976, his legacy carries on through the work of the Institute named for him that is based out of his well preserved home in Campbell River.

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Shuswap’s first trail guides

Long before the Trail Alliance was even a glimmer of an idea, seven outdoor enthusiasts produced the first trail guide for the Shuswap region. In 1973, this group of like-minded friends who enjoyed exploring the backcountry obtained a federal Opportunity for Youth grant to publish a thin book with maps, photos and descriptions of local trails as well as canoe and cycle routes.
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North Fork Wild dream now a reality

One of many new walkways in the park

Peter Jennings would be extremely pleased with the progress made towards his vision of North Fork Wild. The Shuswap is a richer place thanks to Peter’s generosity and foresight, as he donated his 21 hectares to the CSRD in 2012 for a park. The network of trails constructed by Peter and his close friend Gerald King have been vastly improved and are already being well used by the public and school groups.

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Many opportunities for camping in the Shuswap

Visit the Sites and Trails website to find a camping site or trail to visit

One need not despair over the lack of camping spaces in BC Provincial Parks, because there are over 40 recreations sites in the Shuswap. And, as a bonus, these sites provide more of a wilderness-like experience than the parks. You can locate these campgrounds using either a map book or the website, sitesandtrailsbc. As well, there are a number of smaller, lesser-known parks that do not fill up with pre-bookings.

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More places to explore in the Shuswap

Pushing my bike up this trail was tedious, while the return trip down was exciting

Over the last few weeks, I have been visiting various locations in order to capture more images needed for my book, Everything Shuswap, which is now in production. Trips to the Larch Hills twice, Mt. Ida, and Scotch Creek have reinforced my appreciation for the amazing diversity of ecosystems, the magnificent vistas and the excellent trail networks we have in the Shuswap. For those who live in or near Salmon Arm, the nearby Larch Hills provide a wealth of opportunities.
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Bear Creek flume trail steeped in history

The first new bridge over the creek at the beginning of the trail

Many hikers were disappointed when the Bear Creek Flume Trail in Roderick Haig-Brown Park was closed last year due to a washout and decayed bridges that were no longer safe to cross. Fortunately, BC Parks was able to fund the reconstruction of the trail during the last few months. Four new steel bridges, new stairs, and cedar handrails have been installed by a contractor, which has vastly improved the route. The trail remains officially closed however, because the last bridge has yet to be replaced. (Latest news – BC Parks is planning to open the trail soon up to the last bridge)
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An expedition into the Mara alpine

The view of the foggy valley from the shoulder of Morton Peak

With a goal to visit every part of the Shuswap, it was time to explore Hunters Range and attempt to hike to the forest fire lookout. After studying the maps and trail guide, our group headed out early in the morning via the Owlhead route on a glorious fall day.

Trail map from

At the beginning, the trail through the mixed age spruce and balsam forest was well worn and clearly marked, and the blazes on the trees looked 50 to 75 years old. But as we neared the alpine, we were thankful that one hiker had a GPS as there was no longer a visible trail or markers.
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Life’s a beach during a Shuswap summer

Nice sand at Mara Provincial Park and a large lawn with picnic tables

The T-shirt motto, “Life’s a Beach” certainly applies to a Shuswap summer, when residents and tourists alike flock to the shores of Shuswap Lake to enjoy the sun, the water and the scenery.  But since not all beaches are created equal, there are some that are definitely better than others.

There are certain criteria that can be used to rank Shuswap and Mara Lake shorelines for summertime pleasures.  Key factors for ranking the beaches include: sand, access, cleanliness and temperature of water, depth of water, safe swimming, nearby hiking trails, shade availability, lack of weeds and peacefulness.  Since the vast majority of the lakes’ shorelines are either steep or rocky, the ideal beaches are rather few and far between.

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Hiking the Tplaqin Trail to the top of the Enderby Cliffs

It has been 20 years since I last hiked to the top of the Enderby Cliffs, so it was a real treat for us to make the climb recently and experience the vastly improved Tplaqin trail. In 2010, thanks to the collaborative efforts of BC Parks, the Shuswap Trail Alliance and the Splatsin Band, the steep, eroding sections were removed and replaced with long switchbacks that provide a pleasant route to the 1100 metre ridgeline.

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