Cathedral Provincial Park — Off the Beaten Path
Get off the beaten path! Come and take a rugged ride or an extreme hike to Cathedral Provincial Park. You’ll be rewarded with 360-degree vistas of sapphire lakes, wandering wildlife and jagged mountain peaks. The amazing views here just might send shivers up your spine. You can spend your days hiking nature’s backyard. Then in the evenings, get cozy around the fire and relive tales from the trails with the travellers you’ll meet along the way.
Getting off the beaten path is easier than you think. Take Ashnola Road, just west of Keremeos and follow the signs 22-km (13.7 mi). It’s here you’ll come to your first stop, the Cathedral Lakes Lodge Base Camp. If you’ve reserved a seat, you can board the Unimog (think backcountry all-terrain vehicle) bus that’ll transport you to the trailhead at the core of Cathedral Lakes. Watch the cascading rapids of the Ashnola River, as you gain 1300 m (4265 ft) in elevation in less than an hour. Hard core hikers can do the 16-km (10 mi) journey on foot, taking an extra day to reach the core area of the park.
A Peak Experience
Your nearly off-road adventure delivers you to Quiniscoe Lake. It’s an alpine Shangri La at 2072 m (6800 ft). Breathe in the mountain air; old growth forests surround you. While you’re here you’ll be sharing this magical place with mule deer, mountain goats, the rare Arctic Ptarmigan and California Bighorn Sheep. Even on the hottest summer day it’s cool up here. It is perfect for hiking alpine ridges smoothed by the last Ice Age. These trails were made for nearly to extremely fit hikers. Start your morning hiking well-marked trails, carpeted with pine needles. Your hike leads you to breathtaking vistas of cascading waterfalls and alpine meadows blooming with lupine and mountain heather.
A resident herd of mountain goats may very well welcome you to Lake of the Woods campsite, one of three limited service sites in the park. As you settle in for the night, make sure you unzip your tent flap. While you look out at your rustic surrounding, you may catch sight of rainbow trout jumping in the jewel-toned lake, just begging you to drop in a line.
For something a bit less back-country, but no less rustic, plan to stay at Cathedral Lakes Lodge. It is the highest elevation full service hiking and fishing lodge in all of Canada. No matter where you stay, one thing is certain, the memories and friendships you’ll make along the way will stay with you, like the winsome call of the loon serenading you to sleep.