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This On-line Guide will help you find those great experiences to explore BC off the beaten path. Visit the rest of the Adventure Catalogue website to learn more about the Monashee Circle Drive and great backcountry escapes. Consider this portal as a primer to explore where the desert of the Okanagan Valley meets interior rainforests and alpine meadows.
By Don Elzer
Beneath the shadows of giant cedars is a lush world of mists that invent a truly fantastic world of nature in the balance. Here the waters from the Mountains of Peace carve the landscape and forge fantastic waterfalls that nurture ancient pockets of rainforest.
Rainbow Falls is the longest drive at approximately 70 km from the village of Lumby. The trip is definitely worth it as is evident when you enter the headwaters of the Shuswap watershed and Monashee Provincial Park. The interior rainforest of the Monashees hosts plenty of old growth Cedar, Fir and Spruce trees as well as several views of towering mountain peaks along the way that offer excellent photo opportunities. To visit Rainbow Falls from Lumby, drive 22 km east on Hwy 6 and turn left onto Sugar Lake Rd at Frank's General Store. From Frank's Store travel an additional 24 km to reach Sugar Lake. Cross the bridge and drive an additional 22 km further on the gravel road. Turn right at 22 km onto Spectrum Creek Road where signs are visible pointing to Monashee Provincial Park. After driving another 3 km you will see the turn-off to the falls on your left. Travel ½ km to the Rainbow Falls parking lot where you will see the trailhead leading to the falls. The trail down to the falls is approximately a 5 to 10 minute walk and in excellent condition, but watch your step, as there may be some slippery sections along the way.
Brenda Falls is located on the way to Rainbow Falls. Follow the same directions to Rainbow Falls and when you cross the bridge at Sugar Lake, drive 200 metres and turn left on Rieter Creek Rd. Follow the road for about ½ km to a parking lot. You may view the falls from the parking lot or choose to access a viewing area below the falls. The trail located through the trees on the lower part of the falls is short and quite steep.
Shuswap Falls at the Wilsey Dam site is an excellent place for a picnic. You may take a walk on several trails and observe a working hydroelectric dam. Shuswap Falls is a maintained BC Hydro Recreation site with a parking lot, picnic tables, interpretive signs, and pit toilets. There is a great viewing platform that overhangs the spillway offering a 'bird's-eye-view' of the falls and dam. During the spring runoff the roar of the water can be heard from quite a distance. To travel to the Shuswap Falls Recreation site from Lumby, head north on Shuswap Avenue, the name of the road changing to Mabel Lake Road on the outskirts of the Village. Follow Mabel Lake Road for 15 km from Lumby to a bridge that crosses over the Shuswap River. After crossing the bridge, drive another 500 metres to the turnoff on your left. The parking lot gate is open from May to October, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.
To get to Cascade falls from Lumby, travel north on Mabel Lake Road and follow this paved road for 36 kilometres through a picturesque landscape of farmland and ranches. The road then turns to gravel and an additional 14 kilometres will take you to Cascade Falls. The trailhead and parking area are located on the right hand side of a hairpin turn. The trail is generally in very good condition and is about a 5 to10 minute walk. The grade is moderate and winds through a moss-lined gully along a crystal clear stream. There are picnic tables and a pit toilet on site.
Explore the "Mistical" Waterfalls of the Monashee
The Monashee offers daytrippers a great opportunity to escape the heat and explore the edges of cool sparkling mist mixed with the tumbling of river rock in a medatation of a soft carpet of moss and everything else your daydreams can pack along for the day.
Within an hour from Kelowna the first of four waterfalls can be found in the Lumby area. Three of the waterfalls are located on the pristine Shuswap River and the fourth is located close to Mabel Lake Provincial Park.
While traveling to Cascade Falls, you will pass Shuswap Falls and Mabel Lake Provincial Park. The park contains a number of clean, sandy beaches, a playground, and walking trails. The parking lot for Cascade Falls is 13 km past the turn off to the Mabel Lake Provincial Park.
There's much to do along the way as you explore the waterfalls of the Mountains of Peace. Perhaps make a weekend of your experience, add some fly-fishing and hiking, or an afternoon soaking up some sun on the beach.