Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, alpine meadows, rivers and forests on the shores of Shuswap Lake, is the lakeside vacation community of Sorrento.
Originally known as Trapper’s Landing, after the meeting place of Shuswap Indian trappers returning with their furs, the town was renamed by James Kinghorn after the Italian town of Sorrento, because Copper Island on Shuswap Lake reminded him of the Isle of Capri, off Sorrento in Italy.
Sorrento’s history dates back to the year 1910, and is today enveloped by motels, resorts, campgrounds and summer cottages, offering a fabulous array of recreational activities, during both summer and winter.
Visit Spes Bona, at Sorrento Centre, the large brick house that was once home to James Kinghorn.
If passing through Sorrento, stop off for a visit to the beautifully restored St. Mary’s Anglican Church, which dates back to the 1910s.
Follow Notch Hill Road up the hill to the ruins of the 1920s buildings that are all that remain of the once-booming railway town of Notch Hill.
Vintage car fanatics shouldn’t miss the White Post Auto Museum, 15 km east of Sorrento on Highway 1. The museum displays restored vehicles and also offers for sale vintage vehicles in need of restoration.
Shuswap Lake Marine Provincial Park is among some of the most popular boating and canoeing locations in the Southern Interior. Shuswap Lake is shaped like an addled H and is made up of four large arms: the Shuswap Lake Main Arm, Salmon Arm, Anstey Arm, and Seymour Arm. The product of the glacial scouring that also rounded the surrounding Shuswap Highlands, all four arms converge at Cinnemousun Narrows, northeast of Sicamous.
Those mariners interested in an extended visit will find 14 campsites, some vehicle-accessible but most the preserve of boaters and paddlers. On Salmon Arm, launch at the public wharf in Canoe, about 6 km east of Salmon Arm on Hwy 1, or in Sicamous, 21 km farther east on Hwy 1. There’s also gravel road access from Hwy 1 to Seymour Arm at Silver Beach Provincial Park.
Camping: Wilderness campsites with basic facilities include Two Mile Creek, Albas, and Fowler Point on the northeast shore of Seymour Arm; Anstey View on the northwest shore and Four Mile Creek and Anstey Beach on the south shore of Anstey Arm; and Marble Point on the south shore and Hermit Bay on the north shore of Salmon Arm.
Herald Provincial Park is also situated along the shore of Shuswap Lake, on Salmon Arm. The park is very popular and fills up quickly during July and August. For these months, reservations should be made well in advance. If you can’t make a reservation, put your name on the waiting list for the small number of first-come, first-served sites that are available each day at noon. Campsites are located both at lakeside and a short distance uphill in the cool forest. Swimming, fishing, and bird-watching are the order of the day here. For picnickers looking for a break from Hwy 1, it’s worth the short drive to reach the park, situated on the grounds of an old homestead; there’s a feeling about the place as if you’ve come to visit your grandparents. Herald offers some interesting hiking, with two distinct geographical units (upland and flat delta) creating great hiking terrain. There are also Native Indian pithouse depressions, or kekuli, in the area west of the creek, as well as some old Native cache pits. Take Hwy 1 east of Sorrento for about 20 km, and then follow the north shore of Salmon Arm on the Sunnybrae Road.
In the Shuswap Highlands region southwest of Sorrento, hike the gentle trails in Niskonlith Lake Provincial Park in fall to see a host of migratory birds. The park offers camping in a lushly forested environment, sheltered by towering cottonwoods. (Allergy sufferers beware in June.) Spring wildflowers bloom in extraordinary profusion, as birds make their northern migration through this area of the Shuswap Highlands. Come fall, the birds are back again. Fishing and easygoing hiking are both good reasons to camp here. Take the mostly gravel road off Hwy 1 about 15 km northwest of Chase.
Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park has several beautiful walks and low-key hikes; the Lower Trail System provides access to viewing the salmon run along the Adams River. You shouldn’t miss the Reinecker Creek self-guided nature walk here, which leads to Margaret Falls. Roderick Haig-Brown was a magistrate, writer, angler, and conservationist dedicated to preserving, among other wildlife, the sockeye salmon so key to British Columbia’s economy. He even wrote a poem about salmon, which appears in its entirety on a plaque in the park named in his honour. This 988-hectare park encompasses the entire length of the Adams River, the site of the largest sockeye salmon run on the West Coast. There’s an excellent interpretive area that explains the whole phenomenal trek. A ‘dominant’ run happens every four years, followed by years of much smaller runs. Many wild critters live in this park, among them bears, beavers, and river otters. To get to Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, travel west on Hwy 1 from Sorrento and follow the signs to Squilax. The park is about 5 km north of here.
Shuswap Lake Provincial Park is wildly popular. Everything you need for summer fun is right here: camping, picnicking, fishing, boating, paddling, swimming, hiking, windsurfing, sailing, houseboating, water-skiing, nature study, photography, visitor programs, and bicycling. With 12 km of paved trails, Shuswap Lake may also be the cycling capital of the BC Parks system. The park is open in the fall during the Adams River salmon run. Don’t confuse this park with Shuswap Lake Marine Provincial Park. Turn off Hwy 1 at Scotch Creek, then go about 20 km farther.
Take a boat over to Copper Island, just a short ride from the shores of Shuswap Lake Provincial Park. Copper Island offers 3 kilometres of winding trails that circle the island, and a trail up to the summit (488 metres) that provides superb vistas of Shuswap Lake. An impressive variety of plants and animal life are to be found on Copper Island.
Fishing: As well known as the famed steelhead are the Kamloops trout. Kamloops trout are a unique strain of trout that put on an eye-popping, acrobatic performance for fly-fishers skilled enough to hook one. These wild rainbow trout, native to central and south-central Interior regions of the province, are the prize in Niskonlith Provincial Park and Silver Beach Provincial Park, at Seymour Arm at Shuswap Lake.
Larch Hills Cross-Country Area in Salmon Arm has an impressive 140 km of cross-country ski trails, about 40 km of which are groomed. To reach the trailhead, drive 17 km south of Salmon Arm on Hwy 97B, turn left on Grandview Bench Rd and go 5 km, and turn left on Edgar Rd and drive 2 km farther. The Larch Hills Ski Club maintains a chalet, which is open to all, the site of the annual ‘loppet,’ or cross-country ski race. A map of the Larch Hills trails is available at the Salmon Arm and District Visitor Centre.
Golf: Golfers can choose from a number of golf courses in the immediate area. Chase has the Sunshore Golf Course on the shores of Little Shuswap Lake, where golfers can dock their boat adjacent to the 8th tee, and the Shuswap Lake Estates Golf & Country Club is a championship golf course in Blind Bay. Salmon Arm offers three golf courses: The Salmon Arm Golf Club, Sonseekers Ridge Golf Course, and Canoe Creek Golf Course. Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Native history, heritage and culture are presented at the Squilax Indian Pow Wow, held annually in July.
The Shuswap Lake Festival of the Arts attracts artists, artisans and art-lovers from the Shuswap area to the annual show in Sorrento in mid July. View paintings, photography, sculptures, and more.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on Okanagan and Kootenay Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through the Southern Okanagan, starting and ending your sun-drenched voyage in Osoyoos, the place where two lakes come together. Circle Tours in British Columbia.