Beyond the hot springs, pools and floating waterpark, there’s more to explore in and around this popular lakeside town
“I see one!” my six-year-old daughter shouts as she runs towards a towering cedar tree, her walking stick pointing towards the sky. My husband, two older children and I rush after her and look up, cupping our hands over our eyes to block the sun. She’s spotted another mask on our trek through the Spirit Trail, a short and easy one kilometre hike that features oversized ferns and a series of clay masks—several dozens of them—that were created by a local artist, and can be found affixed to the cedar trees throughout the walk.
A summer visit to Harrison Hot Springs has become an annual family tradition for us, but this year, as we continue to practice social distancing, we decided to do things a little differently, with stays in self-contained hideaways found just outside of town, outdoor activities that allow for fewer faces and bigger spaces, and takeout meals to fuel us up after our days full of outdoor adventures.
Here’s where to stay, eat and play as you explore the hideaways, hikes and happenings of Harrison Hot Springs...
1. Where to stay: Waterfront hideaways in Harrison
The Lodge on Harrison LakeWe kicked off our visit to the area with an overnight stay in the Harrison River Valley. Located 20 minutes from Harrison Hot Springs, Sandpiper Resort has expanded Rowena’s Inn on the River to include new one, two and three bedroom rustic cottages and luxury cabins, offering a range of spacious accommodations fit for groups of all sizes.
Our home base for the night was a spacious, self-contained three-bedroom Luxury Nature Series Cabin, featuring all of the comforts of home, such as a full-sized kitchen, a large patio with a dining table and BBQ, a cozy living room with a fireplace and TV, and a quaint nook with board games and bean bag chairs (which quickly became the hangout spot for my three kids during our stay). Front row views of the golf green, a petite pond, the Cheam Mountains, and the Harrison River provided the perfect backdrop for our laidback stay, and the on-site Clubhouse Restaurant kept us fueled up with delicious west coast fare, which we took to-go to enjoy from the comfort of our cabin.
Then, we headed to Harrison Lake, where we enjoyed two nights in the Carriage House at The Lodge on Harrison Lake. From the deep soaker tub found in the master suite, to the spacious modern kitchen, this two-level waterfront oasis perched in the trees offers 180 degree lake views from every window. The property boasts a private beach and boat dock, and separate BBQ and fire pit areas that are perfect for a waterfront dinner or nighttime s’mores by the lake while watching the sunset.
2. Where to play: Splash, stroll, and seek
Photo: Bianca BujanFor fun on the water, head to the Harrison Lake beach dock and rent individual bumper boats. Similar to the classic theme park bumper cars, you can zoom and bump into each other, with the added fun of built-in electric water guns, the perfect way to cool off with a water fight while you’re cruising around on the lake. If a quiet kayak paddle along the lake is more your speed, consider booking a guided two-hour kayaking tour with Harrison Eco Tours, where you can paddle along the pristine shoreline, while spotting the area’s abundance of wildlife if their natural habitat.
If you’re looking to take a dip, consider the smaller surrounding lakes by heading up to Sasquatch Provincial Park, a 20-minute drive from downtown Harrison Hot Springs, where you’ll find Hicks Lake, and the lesser-known Deer Lake and Trout Lake. Perfect for paddling, picnicking, fishing, and even overnight camping, this pretty pocket of lakes offers a tranquil setting surrounded by birch forest and scenic mountain ridges.
For an easy, family-friendly hike, head to Spirit Trail, accessed easily from town by foot or by car. The trail takes less than 30 minutes to complete, and features a series of clay masks that can be spotted along the way, created by a local artist who was walking the trails with his dog back in 2007, and upon encountering a fellow hiker who remarked that the woods seemed enchanted, felt inspired to create a series of clay masks that were as individually unique as the trees seemed to appear. Counting the masks along the way is the perfect way to entice kids to stroll through the woods while enjoying the natural surroundings.
3. Where to eat: The best dine-in and take-out spots in town
Photo: Muddy WatersFor breakfast, enjoy locally-roasted coffee and farm-to-table fare at Muddy Waters Cafe, a local favourite sitting just across from the Harrison Lagoon, where you can enjoy everything from a freshly-baked muffin to a bountiful breakfast, like the Smoked Salmon Lox, available for dine-in or takeout.
For lunch, we opted for a picnic basket lunch to go from Harrison Corner Cafe, which included a fresh baguette, house-made hummus, olive tapenade, raspberry jam, a variety of cheeses and cured meats, veggies and fruits, cookies and drinks. We took our picnic basket up to Deer Lake and enjoyed it at a picnic table by the water, and then cooled off with a dip in the lake!
A stay in Harrison Hot Springs wouldn’t be complete without a dinner at the Black Forest Restaurant, a steak and schnitzel house offering authentic German food since 1975. I opted for the Schnitzel Oskar, which came topped with fresh crab meat, asparagus and bernaise—a must-try dish that took me right back to my visit to Baden-Baden Germany, as the setting and the flavours were spot on. Enjoy your meal from the spacious, air conditioned dining room, or on the patio while enjoying views of the lake.