Surprises abound in Southern Interior for those who enjoy outdoor recreation

Outdoor recreation surprises

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind. And that's not even getting into all of the great outdoor news.

The Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen joined e-biking buddies to explore Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park and then the KVR Trail from Penticton to Naramata's Little Tunnel, both in great shape.

While staying at our farm for a week, Sunshine Coast hiking-biking buddies Suzanne and Gerd (and our friends) cycled John Hindle Drive over to UBC Okanagan (past a wrecked Mercedes on the Okanagan Rail Trail access path, RCMP investigator still on-scene) and then downtown past the GoByBike Week's wrap-up Celebration Station at Railside Brewing. (Great salsa and crackers)

The Sheriff and CCC were joined by kayaking buddies renewing our love of Okanagan Lake and the Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park shoreline south of Bertram Creek Regional Park in Kelowna (with views of the Pigeon Creek wildfire west of Peachland). Take a breath. Whew!

The highlight of our social scene, though, was a reunion with long-time friends in the Central Okanagan Outdoors Club, formerly the Central Okanagan Hiking Club.

Just when the Sheriff thought he’d been everywhere and seen everything (haha), outdoor friends have something to share. Byron praised the maze at Fintry Provincial Park near Vernon.

Fintry has a maze? The Sheriff has climbed the hundreds of stairs to Fintry Falls (Shorts Creek) countless times, and camped and kayaked there with the Kelowna Canoe and Kayak Club. He and dirt bike buddy Cec even crossed a rickety suspension bridge (now gone) in the 1980s to reach several secret pools. And there's a maze near the Manor House? Sure enough, the website https://bcparks.ca/fintry-park/ says you can explore the beginnings of a new heritage/ornamental garden, including a 60-foot labyrinth. Who knew?

Hiking buddy Tony praised the nearly 65 kilometres of paved trails on the Ciclopista de Ixtapa from Ixtapa to Zihua's Playa Principal in Mexico. He promised to send more information, and his wife promised to remind him.

Biking buddy Kevin lauded The Loop, Tucson's “favourite way to get around.” The Chuck Huckelberry Loop is No. 1 on USA Today’s 2022 10 Best Readers’ Choice List for Best Recreational Trail. It was born out of a flood-control project in the aftermath of disastrous floods in 1983.

It is now a massive network of paths, making for a continuous 131 mile stretch that was completed in March 2018. The system connects the communities of Tucson, Oro Valley, South Tucson and Marana in Arizona.

Kayaking buddy Peter whispered the location of a bald eagle nest close to Wood Lake along the missing link of the Okanagan Rail Trail. Shhhhh!

Any Castanet readers who would like to recommend a trail, an attraction, etc. for inclusion in a future column can email [email protected].


Everybody wins when outdoor enthusiasts exchange ideas.

Tim Petruk, news director for Castanet Kamloops, passed along information about PaddleBC.ca after he learned Kamloops is considered one of the top paddling destinations due to waterways like the 29-kilometre-long Kamloops Lake. It is the largest in the area, and one of the best areas to enjoy paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking. Once again, who knew?

Launched in 2022 as a collaboration between paddling associations and tourism organizations, PaddleBC.ca is the only online directory of paddling destinations, guided excursions and essential tips, such as a day-long tour of Kamloops Lake hosted by a Moccasin Trails guide, who will share ancestral songs and stories dating back thousands of years.

"It has a convenient directory of all of B.C.’s top waterways for paddling, kayaking, rafting, canoeing and kayak fishing. Adventure enthusiasts can easily search for experiences by paddling type, waterway type, or region with a focus on vetted experiences that ensure safe and memorable excursions," says Andrea Ryman, founder of Paddle BC.

"Fun Fact: B.C. is revered as a world-renowned paddling destination, offering an unparalleled variety of experiences that appeal to every kind of paddler, from novice to expert - with over 25,000 kilometres of ocean coastline and more than 20,000 lakes to explore."

The Thompson Okanagan region, one of six regions, has a plethura of information from yacht clubs to non-profit groups to "meeting the specialists...from guides and instructors to marina owners and sales reps." Check it out.


The Sheriff's first outdoor recreation column for Castanet received rave reviews with more than 9,500 views. Does the fact they were all family members and friends count?

"I was contemplating my journalistic future and decided on a change to online posting," said the Sheriff. "Before I even had a chance to organize an online blog, the opportunity to contribute to Castanet came up.”

The Sheriff has been a long-time fan of the popular online news service which has expanded over the years to become an all-encompassing source of information, from local to national to international news.

"I think it was the almost-immediate and ongoing coverage of the 2003 Okanagan Mountain wildfire which really solidified its place as the online 'what's happening' news source that Okanagan residents can rely on," said the Sheriff.

"During the past 40-plus years of writing about outdoor recreation, I have interviewed a who's who of like-minded people and shared their stories, stories which deserve a much wider audience. I love a good story and even more, I like sharing a good story. And I look forward to continuing that 40-year tradition every Sunday morning on Castanet."

The Sheriff is already considering a series on the best trails in the Okanagan for those who are new to the region or those looking to expand their horizons to new territory.

"Maps, a little history, the sky is the limit," said the Sheriff with his usual laugh.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

J.P. Squire arrived in the Okanagan Valley from flatland Chatham, Ont. in the middle of the night in the spring of 1980. Waking up in the Highway 97 motel, he looked across the then-four-lane roadway at Mount Baldy and commented: "Oh my God, there's mountains." Driving into downtown Kelowna, he exclaimed: "Oh my God, there's a lake."

The rest is history. After less than a month in Kelowna, he concluded: "I'm going to live here for a long time." And he did.

Within weeks and months, he was hiking local hillsides, playing rec hockey at Memorial Arena and downhill skiing at Big White Ski Resort. After purchasing a hobby farm in the Glenmore Valley in 1986, he bought the first of many Tennessee Walking Horses. After meeting Constant Companion Carmen in 1999, he bought two touring kayaks and they began exploring Interior lakes and B.C.'s coast.

The outdoor recreation column began with downhill ski coverage every winter as the Ski Sheriff but soon progressed to a year-round column as the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff.

His extensive list of contacts in Okanagan outdoor recreation clubs, organizations and groups means a constant flow of emails about upcoming events and activities which will be posted on Castanet every Sunday.

You can email the Sheriff at: [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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