Across Kamloops Lake to Painted Bluffs

Across Kamloops Lake to Painted Bluffs

Posted on: October 8, 2019 2:48 am
by: Doug Smith

Painted Bluffs Provincial Park lies on the north side of Kamloops Lake east of Copper Creek.   Access by land is difficult, but it can be done from the Copper Creek Road just below the Sabiston Creek Road junction (link).  We have been in to Painted Bluffs five times in the last 2 years, with the last time by kayak from Savona.   We paddle on Kamloops Lake a few times each year, but we always check for weather conditions before heading out.   Typically the lake is calm in the morning and winds arise after 11:00.   Strong winds may be difficult for paddlers and they are often at their worst at about noon.    A crossing of the lake is about 2 km.



There is an official boat launch on the west end of Savona, but we hand launched from the former Savona Provincial Park area not far from the mill instead.   Access to the parking area and the beach below is blocked by large boulders so we parked on the side of Savona Access Road, then hauled our kayaks down to the beach (using rear wheels).   The beach is rocky but this is no problem in calm conditions.   We launched and then angled northeast to the far shore.  The paddle to Painted Bluffs is 6.5 km.



It takes about 1.25 hours in calm conditions to paddle across the lake and up the shoreline past Copper Creek.   The whole route over and back is very scenic.



There is a good beach/shore for a kayak landing.   We pulled our boats onto the beach and hiked up across the train tracks and into the bluffs.   As we approached the ragged ridges and gullies, there was very little vegetation below the cinnabar, iron, and copper infused slopes.



There are no trails, but with some light scrambling we can go over ridges to gullies that can be hiked or we can hike up the narrow eroded ridges.


All exploration is limited by eroded green (copper) red and orange (cinnabar and iron) ridges    Over the years we have clambered over all parts of the park.




The outing was on 9/11 and only by serendipityI spotted and took a photo with N11 in it.



Every trip into Painted Bluffs is a bit different because of changing light conditions.   Ragged shapes and patterns can be seen, depending on the angle of the view and the light.      No matter how many times I hike in Painted Bluffs, my sense of wonder is never diminished.




We paddled back just as the winds came up and we had about 1 km of concentrated paddling with waves coming out of the southeast.   We came under the shelter of Six Mile Hill and then paddled west along the south shore of the lake back to Savona.



This is an outing that we try to do every year.   The combination of paddling on Kamloops Lake surrounded by its scenic, rugged hills and hiking in Painted Bluffs is a prime Double Feature for our summer.



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About the Author

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.

The Kamloops Trails website has a massive number of interesting posts and would be of interest to anyone in Kamloops who enjoys the outdoors. Visit the Kamloops Trails website at:


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