Easy Hiking at Isobel Lake Forest Ecosystem

Easy Hike near Kamloops at Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area

This is an easy half day hike in running shoes, or on skis in winter, over mostly flat ground at Isobel Lake Interpretive Forest. From Kamloops, drive out Fortune Drive and 8th Street on the North Shore to the traffic light where the three roads join at Ord Drive, Westside Drive and 8th Street. Stay in the middle lane for Batchelor Drive, and drive uphill through Batchelor Heights to where the paved road ends and the hilly grasslands begin. Here dry range land hosts occasional sparse stands of pine trees and scrub alder where cattle graze around the margins of small lakes and intermittent marshes. At change of season in November we passed occasional ranchers pulling cattle trailers behind their trucks as they began the work of moving cattle from the summer ranges into winter shelter, in preparation for the calving season in January and February.


Easy Hike in a Forest Ecosystem

Bare trees, metallic arcs and spars form snares of light in Isobel Lake.  They spider sadness in November webs of wintry cloud and sullen skies.
Bare trees, metallic arcs and spars form snares of light in Isobel Lake. They spider sadness in November webs of wintry cloud and sullen skies. | Source

Tk'emlups: the Thompson Rivers' Confluence

Confluence of North and South Thompson Rivers in the hot grassland valley at Kamloops, which takes its name from "Tk'emlups" in the Secwepemc language, meaning "meeting waters."  The northern river is clearer blue, while the southern.one is pale.
Confluence of North and South Thompson Rivers in the hot grassland valley at Kamloops, which takes its name from "Tk'emlups" in the Secwepemc language, meaning "meeting waters." The northern river is clearer blue, while the southern.one is pale. | Source

In this area, the North and South Thompson Rivers trap heat in the valleys, but in the hinterland the land changes to mixed forest and lakes where the higher altitude drops temperatures and deeper soil promotes root growth for larger species of plants. Follow the gravel road past where Batchelor Drive becomes Lac Du Bois Road, and continue from the pavement end for about 17 km to the north end of McQueen Lake. Take the right fork to Isobel lake Interpretive Forest. The road is rough here, with washboard, rocks and potholes, and requires slow driving but not four-wheel drive. Approximately 7 km in, the road forks again, the right fork marked to McQueen Lake, and the left fork marked with a small arrow on a tree up the left bank to Isobel Lake. It is easy to miss the sign, but stay in the left fork for another 3 km or so to the parking lot. We parked here and took the trail, but if you come in summer and want to camp, the road continues to the provincial camp ground and to several picnic areas.




Isobel Lake: Thirty Minute Drive from Kamloops

show route and directions
A markerIsobel Lake, Kamloops BC -
Isobel Lake, Thompson-Nicola J, BC V2B, Canada
[get directions]

B markerKamloops, BC -
Kamloops, BC, Canada
[get directions]

Isobel Lake Interpretive Forest: Once a Woodlot, Now a Park

Isobel Lake Interpretive Forest is an easy hike half an hour from Kamloops.  Logged in the 1980's, the area is now regenerating.
Isobel Lake Interpretive Forest is an easy hike half an hour from Kamloops. Logged in the 1980's, the area is now regenerating. | Source

Have You Done the Isobel Lake Hike? Rate It!

4 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Isobel Lake Easy Hike

This forest ecosystem, under licence as a woodlot to a lumber company, was logged in the 1980's, but is now a park and has reforested. The interpretive trail that rims the lake has signs along the way identifying plant species, and has picnic tables, barbecue facilities, and a wheelchair accessible trail to the Forest Inn covered picnic area about 30 minutes hike to the far side of the lake. The park is well used by youth groups on day trips from local schools, and on camping trips to the Environmental Education Centre run by the local School District 73 at nearby McQueen Lake. In early November, the area was quiet and the only person we met was the park ranger dressed in plaid bush shirt, down vest, and Wellington boots as he fed bones to his friendly dogs at the entrance to the campsite.


Part of the Isobel Lake Trail Is Wheelchair Accessible

Isobel Lake trail begins.
Isobel Lake trail begins. | Source
First glimpse of the swam ecosystem at the margin of Isobel Lake
First glimpse of the swam ecosystem at the margin of Isobel Lake | Source

Take a Hike!

How often do you go hiking?

See results without voting

Watch for Migratory Birds in the Swamp Ecosystem

The lake is edged with cat tail marshes that harbour fish, ducks and water fowl. The area is located along the interior branch of the Pacific Flyway, a pathway for migrating birds, and in spring and fall you may spot species from far away as they move to nesting areas in Alaska and the Northwest territories or the Pacific north coast in spring, or fly south to wintering places in the southern US, Mexico or Central and South America. For more about how waterways, rivers and lakes are important to the survival of migratory birds, take a look here.

In several places around the lake there are good places to fish, if you like to angle. The lake is stocked in spring with trout and, and recent reconstruction of the weir from nearby Dairy Creek has improved the oxygenation of the lake in spring to reduce winterkill of fish in the lake. With cat tail swamp around the lake margin, the decaying plant material absorbs oxygen from the lake, and reduces what is available to fish. Now, with the new weir, spring runoff is diverted into Isobel Lake and flushes the lake with fresh, oxygenated water as the ice melts and the fish become active again.

Cattails in the swamp ecosystem at the edge of Isobel Lake
Cattails in the swamp ecosystem at the edge of Isobel Lake | Source
Source
Picnic tables and a fire pit make a great place for a lunch stop on a sunny day.  Bring binoculars to watch for birds and butterflies as you eat.
Picnic tables and a fire pit make a great place for a lunch stop on a sunny day. Bring binoculars to watch for birds and butterflies as you eat. | Source
Stumps left over from old logging activity host grasses and moss and incipient forest regeneration.
Stumps left over from old logging activity host grasses and moss and incipient forest regeneration. | Source

Forest Regeneraton after Lumbering



Signs of the previous lumbering activities abound, with stumps in shallow water and on the hillocks beside the pathways. Now after thirty years or more, they are overgrown with mosses, lichens, sedges, and small grasses. In some cases, the roots have regrown a new trunk which will mature into a second-growth tree as the trunk decays back into the forest floor.



Along the shore, the stumps provide shade from summer heat, and shelter frogs, insects and fish.

Mossy log in bullrush swamp.
Mossy log in bullrush swamp. | Source
Mosses, grasses, sedges and small trees colonize rotting logs in the cat tail marshes along the easy hike at the shore of Isobel Lake near Kamloops, BC.
Mosses, grasses, sedges and small trees colonize rotting logs in the cat tail marshes along the easy hike at the shore of Isobel Lake near Kamloops, BC. | Source
Decaying logs and seedlings indicate the regeneration of the forest.
Decaying logs and seedlings indicate the regeneration of the forest. | Source

Lightning Strikes and Wildfires Inaugurate Forest Regeneration

When lightning strikes a tree, the tree may erupt in flames and burn. Sometimes the flames spread and begin a wildfire. In Canada every year millions of hectares of forest burn this way, burning off deadwood, destroying insect infestations and triggering the opening of pine cones to regenerate new growth. When these wildfires burn close to human habitation they are tragic, destroying homes and communities, requiring whole towns to be evacuated. However, when they happen in the wilderness, they are part of a natural cleansing cycle that rejuvenates the forest.

Sometimes the lightning bolt does not cause fire, and the tree survives the strike. As shown below, the bark splits and partially chars, but the tree scars over and growth continues.

Old lightning scar on Douglas Fir
Old lightning scar on Douglas Fir | Source

Ranching in the Thompson Niclola Region

Since local ranchers graze cattle in the area, some of the trails have cattle gates and fences to control the animals' access to the interpretive trail areas. These grids in the ground allow pedestrian and vehicular traffic, but the cattle won't cross over. If they try to cross, their hooves fall in the spaces, and sensing unstable ground, the cattle turn away. This style of cattle gate is common in the Thompson Nicola region, where the costs of fencing huge range lands may be prohibitive.

Thompson Nicola Region Cattle Gate

This style of cattle gate is common in the area.  The cattle won't walk across, for their hooves fall through the spaces, but the spaces give a sturdy surface to human feet on walking trails, and to cars on roads.
This style of cattle gate is common in the area. The cattle won't walk across, for their hooves fall through the spaces, but the spaces give a sturdy surface to human feet on walking trails, and to cars on roads. | Source

Binoculars Bring the Forest and Swamp to Life

Lichens and Mosses

On this easy hike at Isobel Lake, many decaying stumps and logs from logging activity are now homes to mosses and lichens as the forest regenerates. Mosses are a group of low growing plants without roots or flowers. They grow in moist, shady areas on rotten wood, trees, rocks and soil. They are photosynthesizing plants with many tiny leaves on a short stem. Not having flowers, they cannot produce seeds, but reproduce through spores, like ferns. They help produce thick layers of humus, and help the forest ecosystem by creating soil and organic material that, in time, can support the growth of larger plants.

Lichens are two plants in symbiotic relationship, consisting of a fungus and an algae. The fungus has a fibrous structure that anchors the lichen, supports the algae, and retains moisture so the algae does not dry out. The algae engages in photosynthesis to produce food from sunlight to sustain itself and the fungus.

Your binoculars will be useful to spot birds and to examine close up the features of the mosses and lichens you pass.

Mosses and Lichens

Old stump logged thirty years ago now hosts mosses and lichens.  Here the life energy from the root has sent up a second-growth trunk that will  mature into a new tree.
Old stump logged thirty years ago now hosts mosses and lichens. Here the life energy from the root has sent up a second-growth trunk that will mature into a new tree. | Source
Moss
Moss | Source
Several species of moss and lichens are growing on this rotting stump.
Several species of moss and lichens are growing on this rotting stump. | Source
Mosses and lichens
Mosses and lichens | Source
The fungus fibres of these yellow and silver lichens support the algae, which have chlorophyll for photosynthesis.
The fungus fibres of these yellow and silver lichens support the algae, which have chlorophyll for photosynthesis. | Source
Several species of lichens.
Several species of lichens. | Source
Moss and Lichens
Moss and Lichens | Source
Lichens
Lichens | Source
Decaying stumps and logs are part of the forest regeneration.
Decaying stumps and logs are part of the forest regeneration. | Source

Almost at the end of the trail, there is a chair carved out of a stump. Sit here for a bit, and watch the quiet lake lap the shore, or listen to your children tell you a story about their day at Isobel Lake.


The storyteller's chair near the Forest Inn covered picnic area
The storyteller's chair near the Forest Inn covered picnic area | Source

Ducks Unlimited and the Swamp Ecosystem

Soon after the Story Teller's Chair, the forest opens into meadow where grasses and mulleins grow. Here Ducks Unlimited Canada, a wetlands conservation organization, has built level dikes to shape the swamp ecosystem into hillocks that block lines of sight. This screens one pair of nesting birds from the next by creating a sense of privacy for each pair and supporting a denser nesting pattern in the area.

At the edge of the forest, meadows hosting grasses, and wildflowers begin.
At the edge of the forest, meadows hosting grasses, and wildflowers begin. | Source
The mullein stalks have dried and scattered seeds to germinate in spring.
The mullein stalks have dried and scattered seeds to germinate in spring. | Source
Level ditching installed by Ducks Unlimited creates a safe nesting place for ducks amid the swamp ecosystem between the forest and the lake.
Level ditching installed by Ducks Unlimited creates a safe nesting place for ducks amid the swamp ecosystem between the forest and the lake. | Source

Easy Hike with Camping, Picnicking, Birdwatching or Fishing

This half day hike at Isobel Lake is an easy drive from Kamloops. The loop of the lake can be completed at a casual walking pace in under two hours, and passes through a variety of ecosystems. It is an excellent way to introduce children or city folks to the swamp and forest ecosystems and the ways the forest regenerates after logging.

More by this Author

  • A Guide to Developing Your Psychic Abilities
    20

    Learn how to increase your psychic ability and expand your bioenergetic field. We are all capable of developing psychic ability, for it is innate. children, especially Indigo children, are intuitive visionaries with...

  • Can You Sweat Out Toxins with Hot Yoga?
    7

    Find out how to detox your body with hot yoga, with pictures and video. The warm room induces sweating out toxins, but the detoxifying effect of proper breathing twisting, folding forward and backward, inverting the...

  • Chair Yoga for Seniors
    10

    Adults beginning yoga over 50 can benefit from a gentle sequence of yoga stretches in a chair. These chair exercises for seniors, who may have high blood pressure or joint issues with wrists, shoulders, hips, knees, and...


Comments 9 comments

Armchair Builder profile image

Armchair Builder 4 years ago from Hawaii

Looks like a gorgeous place to hike!


Janis Goad profile image

Janis Goad 4 years ago Author

Armchair Builder, great to meet you! Yes, the hike is almost flat, easy, and beautiful, at all seasons. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it.


thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India

Looks like a wonderful place...

Pictures are stunning


Janis Goad profile image

Janis Goad 4 years ago Author

Thank you for visiting and commenting, Thumbi7! Last night it snowed here, so people will be out on the trail today on skis.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Looks like a gorgeous place to go for a hike.


Judi Bee profile image

Judi Bee 4 years ago from UK

Love the photos - the landscape is so different from where I live. I'd love to hike around Isobel Lake, but until I get there, thanks for the virtual tour.


Janis Goad profile image

Janis Goad 4 years ago Author

Thanks, Susan and Judi. I am constantly amazed at the stunning beauty of the region where I live. It is very diverse--desert, mountains, freshwater lakes and rivers, grasslands, and more. I try to capture that in the photographs of my hubs.


iguidenetwork profile image

iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

Looks like a real adventure out there. The story teller's chair is very interesting. Love the photos you captured. :)


Janis Goad profile image

Janis Goad 4 years ago Author

Isn't that a beautiful feature? Many school and youth groups us this park, and the storyteller's chair is great for outdoor lessons, or creative play. Thank you for your comment!!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working