* Day hike. Most trails connect, a few short out-and-back trails. Well-signed throughout.
* Distance: 10-km wobbly loop
* Elevation gain: Roughly 300m
* Trailhead: Top of Sunburst chairlift (Sun Peaks resort, Kamloops BC)
If you love your hikes spotted with colorful wildflowers, then have I got the perfect spot for you! The mountain tops of Sun Peaks (near Kamloops, British Columbia) offer a plethora of walks through slopes bursting with natural beauty; sweeping vistas, lush green mountains and red, purple and yellow wildflowers scattered everywhere.
As Canada’s 2nd largest ski resort, Sun Peaks is known for its downhill skiing and biking, so I was impressed with its trail network. Many of their 14 walking paths intersect, giving hikers lots of options in terms of elevation gains and distances. Some trails are strictly for walking, but others also welcome biking, so watch out for mountain bikers whizzing past.
Access to the chairlift for hiking / biking starts in mid-June through to September. Give yourself plenty of time and plan accordingly, as the last ride down is at 6:45pm. It would be a very long and sucky walk downhill if you missed that last chairlift!
All trails are indicated by name and number. Make sure you grab a paper map from the resort, as it will be crucial for navigation once you’re up there. I hiked a network that closely resembles the Sun Peaks Mountain Loop, but I renamed it Wildflowers Galore for obvious reasons.
OK, let’s go !
WILDFLOWERS GALORE TRAIL DESCRIPTION
Hitch a ride on the Sunburst Express chairlift and watch the world glide beneath your feet for about 10 minutes. Once at the top, start walking up Gil’s (#9), a steady 2.4 kms through a lovely forest. At the junction, head right toward Tod Lake (#11).
I watched a bald eagle perched by the lakeside for over 20 minutes; this serene spot is perfect for your first snack. Then, continue past Tod Lake toward Tod Peak (#11); the trail eventually hooks left and circles upward toward a meadow.
From that meadow, head left towards Mount Tod Summit (still #11). A short trail on your right leads up to Tod Peak (1o mins); this will be 1 of 2 out-and-back trails today and the only steep section of the hike.
Coming back down from Tod Peak summit, turn right and continue along Tod Peak (#11). These meadows were crazy full of wildflowers!
At the T-junction, turn right (not left!) onto West Bowl (#7) and continue to walk through lush meadows filled to the brim (seriously, it was ridiculous!) with wildflowers for about a kilometer.
After about a kilometer, turn LEFT to leave West Bowl and get onto West Ridge (#10 - avoid continuing right/straight onto West Bowl or Dr. Feelgood). Now, the West Ridge portion of this hike is particularly beautiful as you get rewarded with sweeping, panoramic views of the surrounding mountains while walking down gentle (have I mentioned flower-filled?) slopes.
After 1.5 kms, a service road leads to a junction for both Top of The World (#5) and Whyte Bowl (#8). I opted to do both; I first climbed the steep but short Top of the World trail for 1.5 kms in order to see the short Juniper Ridge Loop (#6, 0.6 kms), which offers an amazing 360 degree vista of the Sun Peaks Valley.
Coming back down from Top of the World, I took Whyte Bowl (#8) for 2.5 kms, heading east then south through more sloping meadows filled with wildflowers. Stupendous.
I eventually hooked back onto the lower part of West Bowl (#7) and then onto the lower Vista Trail (#1) to reach the chairlift once again.
All in all, this circuit took 4 hours and was relatively moderate, with the only steep area being the short summit trail to Tod Peak.
The trails here are mostly earth or dirt, with the occasional rock thrown in to remind you to pay attention to your footing. There are no rocky scrambles and best of all, no scree! These mountains are not part of the Canadian Rockies (which are much further East), but rather the Monashee Mountain, a sub-range of the Columbia Mountains. So that means no headache-inducing altitude or scrambling up slippery scree slopes! Just gorgeous, green mountains. It also means the flowers are more abundant and much larger here than in the Rockies alpine. I won’t be forgetting this beautiful hike anytime soon.
See you on the trails!
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