TrailheadBy Becky Mann

With summer just around the corner, people are shedding their winter jackets and boots, opting for a pair of loafers and a stroll in the great outdoors. So where can someone find a trail in the Kamloops area that is both accessible to those of different fitness levels and a place to discover local wildlife?
“Kamloops has a lot of really good hiking opportunities close by,” said Frank Ritcey, provincial WildSafeBC co-ordinator and a member of the Kamloops Naturalist Club.
One trail that Ritcey likes to refer the public to is the Rivers Trail. A 40+ km, series of community paths exploring different areas of Kamloops, Ritcey emphasizes the portion of the trail out past the Kamloops Airport as being particularly interesting.
Aside from being easy for most people to traverse, the dirt trail offers an opportunity for wildlife sightings — deer, owls and a creature known as the Spadefoot have all been identified. The Spadefoot is a toad that burrows into the dirt. There is some disagreement as to whether or not it should be classified as a toad or a frog.
And even if you don’t have an up close and personal encounter with a “furry friend” or reptile, the sandy walk is an optimal place to view tracks and markings created by local wildlife on the move.
Ritcey also suggests venturing to Tranquille River (commonly referred to by locals as Tranquille Creek), past Cinnamon Ridge Farms Ltd., hanging a right across the railroad tracks.
The parking lot appears suddenly and it is best to drive slowly if you are operating a small vehicle. The trail follows a portion of Tranquille River, past a wetland created by beavers, on through to Pine Park (approximately two km in) and further still upriver.
With a wide variety of reptile life to be found, Ritcey reminds anyone who comes across a snake that, “All snakes in B.C. are protected.” You are not supposed to handle or antagonize them.
The Kamloops Naturalist Club will be hosting a “Reptile Walk” in the very near future, offering anyone interested the chance to come and explore the Tranquille River area.
“It’s just a way to get people to think about the reptiles we have,” said Ken Lipinski, a member of the Kamloops Naturalist Club. Lipinski understands some people’s trepidation in regards to wildlife and learning more about nature and wildlife could alleviate some of those fears.
The walk will be on Saturday, May 30, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Everyone should meet at the parking lot for Pine Park. Pants and sensible hiking shoes are a necessity and the total distance that will be covered is approximately four km.
The event is free for Naturalist Club members and non-members can purchase a one-day membership for $2. Anyone under the age of 18 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Frank Ritcey will be leading the walk, speaking about the six species of snakes found in the area. Bring a camera and a sense of adventure.
The Kamloops Naturalist Club is a non-profit organization “dedicated to keeping nature worth knowing,” according to their Facebook page. With over 100 members of all different ages and backgrounds, members meet on the third Thursday of every month at the Heritage House near Riverside Park.
“We have a really great cross section of membership,” said Lipinski.
Each month a different presenter is brought in and the topics vary greatly from ants to bats to birds.
“All of our members love things that deal with nature,” said Lipinski.
For more information about the upcoming walk or the Kamloops Naturalist Club, please refer to their Facebook page.