Author: Shannon Turner
Nestled along the shore of Shuswap Lake and the base of Bastion Mountain, west of Salmon Arm, lies the small community of Sunnybrae. I spent this last year living in the area and exploring a few of the sites and trails it has to offer. Shuswap Lake is known as a great tourist destination for boating, camping and fishing. By May long weekend, the lake is buzzing with activity. Living on the lake throughout the offseason, it was my own oasis. Some days it felt like my own private lake as not another boat or paddleboard could be seen. I took advantage of the quiet fall evenings when the lake was like glass to photograph sunsets.
Sunnybrae is home to Herald Provincial Park, a popular camping destination for locals and tourists. One of my favourite spots, Margaret Falls, has been closed for restoration since flooding on June 2, 2017. Massive flooding damaged the trails and wiped out all the footbridges. This short wander up the canyon to the base of Margaret Falls will hopefully reopen in 2020.
However, due to this closure, I began exploring the upper Margaret Falls trail system. The trail begins in the parking lot of Herald Park, crosses Sunnybrae-Canoe Point Rd and climbs up wooden steps to begin your ascent up the mountain. There are a few lookout viewpoints along the way. One towards Salmon Arm and the other towards Sicamous. Wildflowers speckle the landscape in June and animal sightings are a regular occurrence. Bear spray should always be carried even on these smaller trails. The trail winds along the mountainside then you have the option to veer off to the left or you can continue along the Reinecker Creek trail. I personally like to veer left and go up to the upper falls. It’s a quiet area featuring a heavy tree canopy with beds of green moss along the forest floor. Care must be taken to stay on the trail to help preserve the flora in the area. The trail follows the gorge and opens up to a small but impressive fall.
Spring run-off (May and June) displays a crashing fall into a whirlpool of jade water that continues down the gorge. Impressive rock walls display years of layers where the water has cut through. Care definitely must be taken as the bank is slippery, steep and the water is fast-moving. And don’t forget, you are above the big fall at this point.
After this hike, a wander along the beach at Herald Park is always nice. Around September/October the spawning salmon are visible along the shoreline in the bay.
In my opinion, the Shuswap Lake/Sunnybrae area is a 4-season destination, not just a summer playground. Maybe I should keep that part a secret!
Go explore! Happy wandering.