Grasslands Gravel Grind

 Sunset on the Plateau 

Sunset on the Plateau 

Starting in arid Kamloops, this route climbs up through pine and sage scrublands into the rolling Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area, then continues up to the mass of lakes and mixed forests on the Bonaparte Plateau before traversing west and returning through the Tranquille River canyon. 

Following well maintained gravel roads, the route is fairly simple to navigate and offers plenty of stunning views, easy camping and water access, opportunities for wildlife sightings and stops at lakes for swimming and fishing. Designed to be ridden over a weekend, there are plenty of options to stretch this route out and a lot of potential to extend the route with trips to side lakes or further up to destinations like Deadman Falls. 

Logistics

  • Start/Finish:
    • The route starts from the Kamloops Airport, making it possible to literally hop off a plane and start riding. It also makes driving logistics easy. Overnight parking at the Kamloops airport is $9.50. If you don’t want to shell that out, you can park at one of the trailheads for Lac Du Bois Grasslands protected area, just be careful of any overnight parking restrictions. 
  • Water:
    • The plentiful lakes and streams on the Bonaparte Plateau means water shouldn’t be an issue most of the year. Bring a filter or treatment system. 
  • Sleeping: 
    • For free camping, there are 4 BC recreation sites along the route, Saul Lake being the best positioned for a two day trip. 
    • Wendego Lakes Lodge is a great place for an overnight and resupply. They offer cabins that sleep 6 for $100 a night and campsite for $35 a night, along with flush toilets, hot showers and a small convenience store. Call ahead to make sure they’re open and to reserve a cabin in the summer. 
  • Food:
    • If you want to travel extremely light, Wendego Lodge has a convenience store where you can get snacks, drinks and cobble together a road meal, but you might want to call and double check before you head out. . 
    • Kamloops has pretty much anything you want or need. You can stock up at a grocery store, or just buy a bunch of burritos and bring them with you. After your trip, stop by Iron Roads Brewery for beer and tacos. 
  • Cell Service: 
    • There is intermittent cell service all along the route, usually at high points. Wendego Lodge has a satellite phone connection.
  • Bike Shops:
    • There are number of shops in Kamloops where you can get most things you might want/need. Some offer rentals. 
  • Season
    • This route is rideable through spring, summer and fall. Each season has it’s own quirks, too early or too late and there could be snow in the high country. Rain, snow and melt could turn some of the roads into serious mudholes. Mid-summer can be very, very hot, and throughout the spring and early summer, mosquitos can be a nightmare. Pick your timing and be ready. 
    • While I’ve never done it or scouted it, I think this could go as a winter fat-bike route. Much of the area is used by local snowmobilers, and there is a Kamloops Snowmobile club warming hut along the route. According to their website, Wendego Lodge offers winter rentals in wood heated cabins, so it seems possible, if anyone is feeling adventurous. 
Cameron Fenton