Spences Bridge-Merritt-Ashcroft Loop
courtesy of Jan Lee and John Lee-Thiem
Smith's burial site, Spences Bridge.
a scenic travel route in BC is a bit like gambling with perfect odds.
No matter what you do, you can't lose.
the weather seems to conspire against you, and you lose the hot sun
and clear skies you were hoping for, great experiences still seem possible.
So do breathtaking vistas, which are special attractions BC's coastal
and mountain areas. As I recently discovered while travelling through
the Merritt-Logan Lake and Ashcroft areas, there is actually a benefit
to travelling during inclement weather. You experience things that you
would have missed under sunny skies. The vista of clouds cradling snowy
mountain tops, the fragrance of country spring rain, the wind filling
Canyon - all are familiar trademarks for this area at this time
to investigate sights we had not seen, my husband and I started off
early one Sunday morning. We were heading north on Highway 1 to Spences
Bridge, 36 km (23 miles) away, where we would take Highway 8 to
(65 km, or 41miles).
not gone far when we spied river
rafters coming down the Thompson
River. Even the inclement weather had not deterred these hardy voyagers.
Bridge is frequently known for its great steelhead
fishing. But it is also known for its unusual collection of historical
characters - It is also known for its unusual collection of characters,
including a pioneer by the name of Widow Smith. Her grave site marks
a small park in the middle of town.
east, we followed Highway 8 along the Nicola River. Farm and ranch lands
dot either side of the river which is high this time of year with spring
runoff. Its muddy rapids mix with the Thompson river at Spences Bridge,
only to be swallowed by the Fraser River further south at Lytton.
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Recreation Site on the Nicola River.
a number of small camping sites on this road, including the N'kwala
Recreation Site, which is run by the BC Forest Service. It is located
about two thirds of the way to Merritt from Spences Bridge. The campground
provides a perfect location for observing the river and is often fairly
empty at this time of the year. One camper we met comes to this area
each year to paint and "get away". He said that one of the redeeming
qualities of the park is its unspoiled nature and almost primitive setting.
lunch at the Quilchena
Hotel, 20 km (13 miles) north of Merritt on Highway 5A. It is a
bit out of the way if you are heading to Logan Lake, but worth the jaunt.
Follow the signs in Merritt that lead you to Hwy. 5A. The Coquihalla
(Hwy. 5) parallels 5A and is easily accessible when you return from
Quilchena Hotel. The hotel also offers rooms and has formal dining facilities
as well as a golf course on site. The Nicola Ranch is also located on
Highway 5A and there is a petting zoo on site for the little ones.
we headed to Logan Lake via the Coquihalla (70 km, or 44 miles) north.
The Logan Lake area is well known for its fishing opportunities. There
are dozens of lakes and parks to explore in this region, some of which
offer lodging and tour services.
may differ according to its stock and terrain. If you are looking for
a location for a good family outing, Chataway
Lake has a variety of facilities and offers good fishing for small
rainbows (take the Logan Lake-
Connector, then follow Aberdeen road). The other lakes on this road
require a 4WD to access.
on Tunkwa Lake.
Lake is an extremely popular trophy lake 16 km (10 miles) north
of Logan Lake. It also offers camping and lodging facilities. Follow
the signs just west of the town centre on the Logan Lake - Ashcroft
connector. Leighton Lake (next door to Tunkwa Lake) has been found to
have good fishing as well.
25 km. (16 miles) north of Tunkwa will be hosting its annual fishing
derby in mid July. Contestants will be fishing for Kamloops or rainbow
trout and there will be more than $16,000 in prizes to be won. The
registration fee is $25 and the derby is open to all ages. If you do
decide to visit Kamloops lake, be aware that the road between Tunkwa
and Savona is unpaved.
Tunkwa Park, we journeyed west towards Ashcroft
on Highway 97C. The weather had cleared, leaving a silver hue to the
sunset over Tunkwa. The air was cool, but not uncomfortable, and it
was easy driving to Ashcroft (approximately 60 km, or 38 miles). On
the way we passed the Highland Copper Mine, the largest mining operation
of its kind in North America.
to Ashcroft began quickly and we soon found ourselves on a steep hill
that wound gracefully through sagebrush and high desert landscapes.
The forest had disappeared, and before us stretched a unending vista
of hills and mountain ranges.
sits at the base of a valley, nestled up against the Thompson River.
Camping and lodging facilities can be found both in Ashcroft and Cache
Creek, 5 minutes north of Ashcroft on Highway 1.
of activities will be taking place in Ashcroft and Cache Creek during
the months of June and July. The Ashcroft and District Stampede takes
place on mid June. Cache Creek's Barbecue and Barn Dance is scheduled
for early July and a music festival takes place in late July.
Cache Creek, there are any number of travel routes and sites to see.
Highway 1 east takes you to Kamloops, while 97 north takes you to Clinton
Lake. Of course, if you are interested in taking part in Canada
Day celebrations, Highway 99 to Whistler
will connect you with some excellent events. See Travellin'
News for a list of upcoming festivals.
to read other articles by Jan
Lee in the BC Adventure Network