Where the hell is Spences Bridge? Until we went, I'd never heard of either. We decided on a weekend away, wanted to make sure we'd be able to hike, and expanded the AirBnB radius until there was something available. And we were off to Spences Bridge!
In short, it's a tiny town (of about 150 people) in between Lytton and Ashcroft in the interior. It's situated in Gold Country, positioned as the entry point to Canyon Country, and is in the Thompson Okanagan. It's also beautiful, and the perfect spot for an early season hiking weekend since the semi-arid climate means no snow (most of the time).
We took off on a sunny Friday in March for the 3 and a half hour drive north-east. We stopped at the classic Hope Drive-In (pro tip: always get the pie) and then took the dog for a break at Skihist Provincial Park. It's great place to run around and to watch the trains go by in the canyon below.
When we arrived in Spences Bridge, we realized there wouldn't be much to do (a bar, a cafe and the curiously named Baits Motel made up most of the commercial endeavours) - but that didn't matter, since our host had left detailed maps of nearby trails and we'd seen a beautiful waterfall on our way in.
One of the best things about British Columbia is how varied it is, and although we were only a couple of hours from the coastal mountains, the climate was totally different. We walked through town and along railway tracks before we came close to the falls - tumbling down from dry, steep and shrub-covered rocks. The trail was precarious at best (loose rock, steep slopes), and probably best avoided with kids.
The next day we took off to the Cornwall Hills Provincial Park, one of the worst-signed parks I've ever (missed). After turning around, cutting through a farm and taking off up the road, we realized that mountains and snow still exist in the interior, no matter how desert-like it had felt minutes prior. We made it most of the way to the park before the road was too treacherous for our 4x4 and after half an hour trudging through the snow, we decided to take the local advice we'd heard over breakfast and forego trying to find dog-friendly trails in favour of tramps around the hills of the canyon.
For sunset, we drove up to the mesa overlooking the town, and discovered plenty of dirt bikes and even more piles of tiny cacti - thankfully Lucy avoided both pretty well.
On our way home, our only mission was to make the turn for Alexandra Bridge park, something I'd spotted on the way. The park was technically closed, but we found somewhere to park and made our way towards the old bridge. It was beautiful, a little creepy, and totally worth it.
It was a short trip, but we're lucky in living somewhere like Vancouver where are there are so many interesting places within grasp for a weekend. Think beyond Whistler and Seattle, check out AirBnB, and try on another life. Life's too short not to.
Where to go: Spences Bridge (aka Canyon Country) in the Thompson Okanagan.
How to get there: Drive to Hope and then take the "long way" to Kamloops. Stop at all the parks.
Where to stay: We liked our AirBnB, but you could also be brave and try the Baits Motel.
What to do: Wander the hills, check out the waterfall, go horseback riding in Ashcroft, listen to the trains go by, read a book and cook some food. Grocery pickings are slim, so get supplies in Lytton or Ashcroft. Fishing is also quite popular, and you could go white water rafting in summer.
Who to bring: Your dog and your best humans. It's a sleepy place.