Half an hour from Kamloops, along a straight road, the hidden rivers trail is close yet distant. An exciting trail loaded with history is just 25 minutes from Thompson Rivers University. This place of spectacular beauty is called the Tranquille River, named after Secwepemc Chief Pacamoos by fur traders of the Hudson’s Bay Company, whose “quiet, easy manner” gave him the name Tranquil, according to BC Geographical Names.
This river meanders through a parched canyon set against the brown hills of Lac Du Bois Provincial Park, ending at the once bustling settlement of Padova where the former asylum dominates the skyline. If you have time after the hike, seeing this piece of British Columbia’s history is well worth it.
To get to the Tranquille River one must follow Tranquille Road, which starts after the Overlander Bridge on the North Shore and continues all the way to Padova. Along this road, hills known as Cinnamon Ridge shine brightly, their golden sanded hoodoos peaking out at you along the way.
Continuing on Tranquille Road, you need to take Tranquille-Criss Creek Road (it’s the one on the right across the railway tracks). From there you can park your car in a small parking lot which is little more than a piece of cleared dirt off the gravel road. Be sure get some sunscreen and water ready as this walk is around an hour round trip.
You will first off notice the old turnstile gate, which creaks loudly as you go through it. All the old infrastructure following the Tranquille River Trail is from the days of the old settlement, and the rust that covers every remaining piece of metal does truly give you a feeling of immersion in the past.
Starting off is a lush forest, the greenery contrasts nicely with the dry hills above the small canyon valley. Along the route you may see people panning for gold. Surprisingly, the river apparently still produces a fair bit for the adventurous prospector. As the river cascades through the small valley, trees have grown tall.
Keep your eyes wide open as there is a small wetland on the right side of the path just prior to the desert area. If you are lucky, frogs and the odd beaver can be spotted in this unique ecosystem.
As you continue along there comes a spot on the trail where it opens up and the lush canyon gives way to what feels like Canada’s own little Sahara. On a hot day I’d suggest keeping this in mind as the higher the temperatures that longer the walk will feel. Remember again to bring water.
Not far on ahead is shade. An old abandoned washroom facility is in a fenced in area, which also features picnic tables that are generations old. If you pack a lunch this is a lovely place to have a picnic.
After a nice lunch it is only 15 more minutes to the end of the hike and the highlight of the trip, an artificial waterfall, created by the old settlement’s water intake system. This concrete monstrosity stands tall, almost a watery playground for the adventurous kind. Be careful though as this area is not looked after.