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The Nicola Valley is a fisherman's paradise, offering excellent sport fishing in the nearby lakes, rivers and streams.

Hundreds of cool, clear lakes in the valleys are home to the Kamloops trout, one of the wildest strains of the rainbow trout in the world. The size and abundance of Kamloops trout have made the lakes a mecca for anglers. The variety of fish waiting to be caught include coho, chinook, sockeye, Ling cod, dolly varden, rainbow trout, brook char and white fish. There are tales from the early years of cowboys catching 300 fish in a day on the most basic tackle made from a willow stick with a piece of string tied to the end, and a single fly.

"A lake a day as long as you stay" is no idle boast for the Nicola Valley. Close to 50 percent of the province's total freshwater sportfishing occurs in the Thompson-Nicola region.


Occasional strong winds make Nicola Lake a popular place to go windsurfing and sailing. Boat launches are located at Monck Provincial Park, and on the southeast shore of Nicola Lake, halfway between Quilchena and Nicola Ranch. Nicola Lake is home to the Kamloops Sailing Association, which operates the Quilchena Sailing Centre on the lake, a facility with moorage, docking, and boat-storage facilities. They also offer a childrens "Learn to Sail" program at Nicola Lake, for more information please visit

Swimming is popular during the summer in Nicola Lake, and the Nicola River.



Expect a thrill on the 14 miles (22 km) of Nicola Lake which boasts winds second only to the Columbia River Gorge. Just north of the Douglas Lake Road turnoff is Kokanee Beach, a good spot for beginners, as prevailing winds usually blow towards the shore. Strong winds blow out into the centre of Nicola Lake at Snake Point, south of the Quilchena Sailing Centre on Highway 5A.

Canoeing and Kayaking

These are extremely popular outdoor activities in the Nicola Valley. The Merritt District Forestry Recreation Map (available locally or at Forest District offices) marks the following good paddling locations; Andys Lake, Billy Lake, Chain Lake West, Dewdney Lake, Lac le Jeune, Leroy Lake, Link Lake, Old Headley Road East, Old Headley Road West, Osprey Lake, and Pimainus Lake.


Relative to its size, this region is unsurpassed in British Columbia for its sports fishery. The Thompson and Nicola Rivers are historic salmon-spawning tributaries of the Fraser River, and the smaller tributary streams are where rainbow trout, dolly varden, and kokanee lay their eggs. It's the lakes, however, that are the main attraction for anglers.

Chapperon, Douglas, and Nicola Lakes have long been noted for their ample fish stocks. Nicola Lake, renowned for its depth, is said to harbour 26 varieties of fish, some weighing up to 20 pounds (9 kg). Nicola Lake is the easiest to reach and is located about 4 miles (7 km) east of Merritt on Hwy 5A. Use the boat launch at Monck Provincial Park for access to the big lake. Douglas Lake and Chapperon Lake are located about 12 miles (20 km) and 18.5 miles (30 km), respectively, east of Hwy 5A on the Douglas Lake Road. Angling is the most popular form of sportfishing in the Nicola area lakes, but ice fishing, spear fishing, and set-lines methods are also used.

Mountain Biking

The many cross-country ski trails in the Kane Valley cover varied terrain and double as mountain-bike trails in summer. A branch line of the Kettle Valley Railway leads between Hope and Merritt, passing the Coquihalla Tunnels and Brookmere, a distance of about 87 miles (140 km). Due to washouts and the construction of the Coquihalla Highway, not all of the line is suitable for biking. One of the best places to begin is Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Recreation Area. Much of the railbed north to Brookmere is intact. For a detailed description of this route, consult Cycling the Kettle Valley Railway by Dan and Sandra Langford. Guided tours and bike rentals can be arranged in Lower Nicola.

Horseback Riding

The open grassland around Merritt is a delight for those who like to trail ride. This is ranching country, home to the Douglas Lake Ranch, one of British Columbia's oldest and largest working ranches. It lies east off Hwy 5A from the crossroads settlement of Quilchena. For information on horse-trail riding, contact the Douglas Lake Ranch, the Grant Ranches, or Winding River Ranch, all in the Merritt region.


In addition to the campsites at Monck Provincial park, the BC Forest Service maintains numerous small, rustic campsites in the region. They are located near lakes and rivers, blending in with the natural surroundings. Although these sites do not offer sophisticated amenities such as power hookups and piped water, they include basic sanitary facilities, fire rings, picnic tables, and, where appropriate, boat-launch ramps. Access is mostly via narrow unpaved roads, not always suitable for large RVs. Three popular sites with two-wheel-drive access via gravel road are those at Harmon Lake West (16 vehicle/tent sites), Harmon Lake East (18 sites), and Kane Lake (5 sites), and can be reached from Hwy 5 or 5A. To find them, drive about 12 miles (20 km) south of Merritt on Hwy 5A, then about 5 miles (8 km) west on the Kane Valley Forest Road.


The Merritt Forest District has two interpretive trails. The Harmon Lake Trail (easy; about 2 miles/3 km), located in the Kane Valley, demonstrates forest-management practices. To find the trail, drive about 12 miles (20 km) south of Merritt on Hwy 5A, then about 5 miles (8 km) west on the Kane Valley Forest Road. The Godey Creek Trail (easy; 1.5 miles/2.5 km return), adjacent to the Merritt Visitor Info Centre, was built in 1990 by a fire-suppression crew. Plaques explaining various aspects of forestry are located along the trail.

Monck Provincial Park, with 71 vehicle/tent campsites, is located on the northwest side of Nicola Lake, 13.6 miles (22 km) north of Merritt. This is a good park for the entire family, open May through October. Hiking trails, including an interpretive walk to some lava beds, provide spectacular views of the valley and surrounding countryside. The park features an amphitheatre, boat launch, horseshoe pitches, and three archaeological sites. This area of the Nicola Valley was a winter encampment for Natives for centuries before European settlers arrived. Pithouse depressions remain near the park's beach as evidence of their habitation. The vegetation of this part of the Thompson Plateau is chiefly ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and black cottonwood. Tule and cattail, both used in Native mat making, grow in dense patches round the shore of Nicola Lake.

Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park has 63 vehicle/tent campsites, located 24 miles (38 km) south of Merritt off Highway 5A via Look Lake Road. Only basic facilities are provided; pit toilets, picnic tables, fire pits, firewood and water.


Nicola Valley Golf Course is on Highway 5 about 75 km south of Kamloops. This 9 hole course is part of a working ranch. The stately 14 room Quilchena Hotel, which has been in existence since 1908, sits next door to the golf course. Par here is 35 for men, 37 for women. Located at Hwy 5A N, Quilchena, B.C. V0E 2R0. Phone: (250)378-2923.

Meadow Creek Golf Club is a new, 9 hole, par 36 course situated 45 km southwest of Kamloops. The terrain here is basically hilly.

Merritt Golf & Country Club. A well manicured 9 hole course with plenty of challenges. The Nicola river winds through the course and comes into play 6 times on 9 holes. Follow Highway 8 West (Nicola Ave.) to the edge of town. | (250) 378-9414.

Kamloops, less than an hour’s drive away, is a sports mecca with 84 baseball diamonds, 73 soccer fields, 5 ice arenas, 40 gymnasiums, 53 tennis courts, and ten golf courses.

Golf Courses around Kamloops:

  • Aberdeen Hills Golf Club is a 9 hole golf course near Kamloops. It is par 35 for men and 36 for women. It's a semi-private course regularly open to visitors.
  • The Dunes at Kamloops. Measuring 7120 yards and offering four different sets of tees. Toll free - 1-888-881-GOLF or (250) - 579-3300.
  • Eagle Point Golf and Country Club. Par 72. Site of the 1992 Canadian Seniors championships. Toll Free - 1-888-863-2453 or (205) 573-2453.
  • Kamloops Golf & Country Club is a flat and friendly 18 hole course. Par for men is 72, for women, 75. Though semi-private, this course is open to the public every day.
    (250) 376-3231.
  • McArthur Island Golf Center. Situated on scenic McArthur Island, it is a beautiful park-like setting for this executive 9 hole course. (250) 554-3211.
  • Mt. Paul Golf Course & Restaurant. This 32 par golf course is located just minutes from the City centre on the Kamloops Indian Reserve. (250) 374-4653.
  • Pineridge Golf Course. Designed to be, "The best short course ever built." Pineridge boasts 18 challenging holes of golf. (250) 573-4333.
  • Rivershore Estates and Golf Links. Par 72. Host of the 1999 Canadian Men's Amateur Championship. This course is located along the beautiful South Thompson RiverPhone: Toll Free 1-866-886-4653 or (250) 573-4622.
  • Sun Peaks Resort Golf Course. This challenging Graham Cooke course sits amid pine forests and rushing mountain streams. Sun Peaks Resort . . . Toll Free - 1-800-807-3257 or (250) 578-5431.
  • Sun Rivers Golf Course. Par 72. Carved out of the sunny benchlands at the base of Mounts Peter and Paul, Sun Rivers Championship Golf Course is one of the few "true" desert courses in Canada. Phone: Toll Free 1-866-571-7888 or (250) 571-7888

Winter Sports

There's great cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice fishing. Hay rides and sleigh rides are also available for the romantic at heart, and curling and ice skating add to the pure enjoyment for the whole family.

Kane Valley Ski Hills are located in Kane Valley, west of highway 5A/97C and 18 km south of Merritt. The trails are generally protected from the winter winds by the Coast Mountains, and offer very pleasant skiing, even during colder weather. The terrain is variable and offers Nordic trails for beginners to advanced skiers. The more than 25 miles (40 km) of trails, some of them groomed, follow old roads and skid trails through open timber and across natural grassy slopes. They are managed cooperatively by the BC Forest Service and the Nicola Valley Nordic Ski Club of Merritt, (250) 378-6328. A map of the trail system is available from the Merritt Forest District office or at many local hotels.

Sun Peaks Resort on Tod Mountain is 53 km north of Kamloops. It has 47 runs and Nordic trails. Harper Mountain, near Kamloops, has 13 runs and offers Nordic trails and night skiing.


Blue skies, lots of sunshine, powder snow and spectacular landscapes make this region the natural place to enjoy unparalleled snowmobiling opportunities.

Thynne Mountain in the Brookmere area, Swakum Mountain and Henning Mountain all offer great snowmobile trails.

The Merritt Mountain Music Festival is an annual event in July, which attracts thousands of visitors every summer for a weekend of country music, and the Fall Fair and Rodeo, held every Labour Day weekend.

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