Painted Bluffs Hike - Kamloops Trails

Painted Bluffs Hike – Kamloops Trails

Doug Smith  May 16, 2021 at 9:00 am

Painted Bluffs Provincial Park is located on the north side of Kamloops Lake and is accessed by boat or overland from the Copper Creek Road.     This has been a hiking destination every year for decades and we have chosen different routes almost every year.      On a sunny April morning we hiked into Painted Bluffs, through the hills, and back out, a 6 km route taking about 2.75 hours.   Access to the bluffs requires traversing hills on grazing leased/licensed land (mostly Copper Creek Ranch), but we have spoken to the owner in the past few years and this year to a ranch hand and so we proceeded across the hills, leaving no trace, respecting fences and grazing cattle, passing quietly, accessing the provincial park from the west.   On the way in we went around a colorful ridge on the south side.   There are no actual trails into the park.   We contoured the hills, occasionally following game/cattle trails.On the traverse across the hills, we enjoyed views down to and across Kamloops Lake.    No wind on the lake allowed the Six Mile Hills to be mirrored on the water.   We made the steep descent into the park and then wandered through the eroded bluffs.   We usually establish a “basecamp” at the foot of the bluffs, then let everyone explore to their own tastes on foot, or by scrambling up ridges and gullies.   Over the years I have explored a different route each timeI hiked up an eroded watercourse on the east side, a good route to access the higher bluffs.   I found a crumbly reddish ridge to scramble and ascend to the top of a set of wavy “aretes.” Most hikers don’t get to these types of viewpoints, but scrambling on the bluffs can be done safely using good technique, but agility and some courage is required.   Some of the keys are to keep the body low, establish footholds for every move, use the hands to brace, access gullies to wedge into on the way up or down steep sections, use good boots with a stiff sole, spider up or down tricky sections, spreading limbs out to distribute the weight across a plane, explore to look for a different route to descend if it looks easier, and bumslide, if needed.  There are some picture-ready spots in the Painted Bluffs that we photograph every time.   We had lunch, scrambled up and down, then returned the way we came, enjoying the views on the way back.   For more route information, go to the KamloopsTrails page on Painted Bluffs (link).  

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Doug Smith

Doug writes for Kamloops Trails, a not-for-profit (and ad free) website, offering information on trails, waterways, routes, featured spots, viewpoints, and explorations in the outdoors in the Kamloops area (and beyond).

Doug started exploring this area in 1976 and continues to follow tracks and routes wherever they lead, with the aid of map, compass, GPSr and camera. After many dead-ends, but also many discoveries, he chose to share this information.

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