On a snowy New Year’s day in the Kamloops area, there’s no better activity than joining the local hiking club for some snowshoeing. On this particular excursion, the Kamloops Hiking Club headed to Hanging Valley (dubbed “Hangover Valley” by some members who had celebrated the night before), located in the Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area. Encompassing 15,000 hectares of grassland, forest, cliffs, canyons and lakes, Lac Du Bois is filled with recreational opportunities for all seasons. For ATV and 4-wheel drive enthusiasts, there is a designated area to the south of the park.
The Hiking Club embarked on a 11 kilometre (7 miles) round trip, stopping for lunch at the midpoint. The weather was mild and pleasant, with welcome sunshine glittering off the heaps of sparkling snow. The snowshoe journey began along the shores of the frozen Lac du Bois, where hockey players had cleared a portion of ice for the most quintessential of Canadiana, an ice hockey rink.
The trail itself, while not maintained, was clear and hard packed for most of the route and while the Club members used snowshoes, good waterproof hiking boots would suffice.
The trail continued into a wide expanse of open meadow, flanked by mountains draped in dark forest. It’s possible the meadow was the result of homesteads that farmed this area more than 100 years ago. While the Club didn’t spot any wildlife on this particular day, the Grasslands are home to animals such as California bighorn sheep, moose, and even wolves.
The hike continues into the forest and comes to a natural turnaround point where the cliffs drop away into Hanging Valley. This is where the Club stopped for lunch, clearing snow off fallen logs for an al fresco dining experience.
For more detailed information on hiking in the Lac du Bois Grasslands and other areas around Kamloops, the Kamloops Trails website is a great resource. If you’re interested in joining a group hike, there is contact information, including dates for future hikes, on the Kamloops Hiking Club website.