Herald Park: Nature trail

A self-guided nature trail takes you from the outlet of Reinecker Creek to Margaret Falls.

Severe damage is being done to the ground cover vegetation and trees in the canyon by foot traffic off the trail. This is resulting in increased erosion and will soon permanently alter the environment along the trail. 

Stay on the trail. Failure to comply will result in prosecution and eviction from the park.

Self-guided trail stops

Stop one – getting around Shuswap Lake

Canoes carried the first Europeans here, but by the 1870s paddle-wheelers frequently transported people between Kamloops and communities on the lake. The Canadian Pacific Railway, and later an expanded road system, resulted in a much easier movement of people and goods. Starting in the 1950’s, the increase of private cars brought a new industry to Shuswap Lake, summer recreation. 

Stop two – a tree called Douglas

The Douglas-fir is best distinguished by its cone with the three-forked bracts that stick between each cone scale. Seeds are released when the cone dries and opens. On older trees the bark becomes thick and deeply furrowed, the tough thick bark making them fire resistant. Specimens of this large size are now rarely seen because they are so valuable as timber.

Stop three – sunshine, shade, and trees

In the drier, sunny places, such as along the lakeshore, grow trees like the ponderosa pine, typical of the valleys south and west of the park. Most of the park is in the lee of Bastion Mountain, where protection from the afternoon sun allows growth of trees typical of the wetter, cooler Columbia Mountains east of here, western hemlock, western red cedar, and western white pine.

Stop four – Shuswap homestead life

In the late 1800’s, Dr. Herald, a young Vancouver physician, realized his health was suffering from the wet coastal weather and decided to settle in the Shuswap area. In the fall of 1905, he bought this farm from the Reinecker family. The Herald family grew tomatoes, potatoes, onions, raspberries, and apples. They also grew grains to feed ten Jersey cows. One year spoiled milk was dumped on the vegetable garden, and the result was a 360-pound pumpkin! The Heralds sold any surplus produce in the town of Canoe, a short trip across the lake (a good road did not reach the farm until 1954). They shipped some produce, like raspberries, by rail to Calgary.

Stop five – family life

Dundas and Edith Herald prospered and raised three children: Jessie, James and Arthur. They were educated at home and took piano lessons. (A piano was brought in from Alberta, shipped by rail to Canoe and across the lake by scow, then hauled up the hill). Jessie, the oldest child, lived here all her life. She loved animals and compiled a list of over 70 species of birds that she saw on the farm. The Herald family sold the 66 hectare farm to the government of British Columbia in 1975 and it became Herald Provincial Park.

Stop six – entering the canyon

Three plant species, douglas-maple, gooseberry, and red osier dogwood, flourish in the stable but damp conditions along the creek bank in this spectacular canyon.

Stop seven – cedars and water power

The canyon’s calcium-rich soils are a perfect growing medium for cedars and have resulted in these mighty trees dominating the area. Below the bridge are the remains of a dam built by the Herald family. The water (carried to the farm by flume) was used to irrigate crops, to cool a root cellar where dairy supplies were stored and to power various labour-saving machines for chores such as sawing planks and sharpening tools.

Stop eight – the bedrock story

The limestone bedrock of this canyon originated at the bottom of a prehistoric ocean. Skeletal remains of small organisms accumulated on the ocean floor 550 million years ago and gradually hardened into limestone, now 300 to 600 metres above sea level. How did this happen? The earth’s surface is divided into rock “plates” that move, very slowly, over millions of years. The plate containing the limestone collided with another plate about 128 million years ago, forcing the limestone up to its present position. Cracks were filled with calcite that was dissolved into limestone. The calcite crystallized to become white veins.

Stop nine – a wet world

Plants that thrive in the moist, humid shade now begin to dominate. The plants include thimbleberry, foamflower, mosses, tiger lily, and northern bedstraw. Some, like the foamflower, are found in drier areas in the park but they bloom longer and grow more luxuriantly in the canyon. 

Stop ten – devil’s playground

A common plant of the interior wetbelt, devil’s club is named for the many spines found along the stems and underside of the leaves. Getting these spines in your skin can cause irritation or even allergic reaction. The large leaves trap as much light as possible, an important asset in the shady forest understory. White flowers bloom in the last two weeks of June with clumps of bright red berries appearing later in the summer.

Stop 11 – Margaret Falls

Margaret Falls is named after the first white woman to see this impressive falls. The water originates at the top of Bastion Mountain that lies directly to the west, and follows a fault in the limestone. The spray of the falls keeps the vegetation moist and allows the mosses that adorn many of the cedars to survive.

Caution, stay on the trail. 

Attempting to climb beside the falls with its steep, wet conditions could result in injury. It also damages the soil and vegetation. Failure to comply will result in prosecution and eviction from the park.