Where can you find vestiges of the Cariboo Wagon road as well as old sawmills, a hike with a great view and a lake to fish and paddle around in without going off the beaten track? Travelling through the Cariboo, just south of Clinton, one can take a break from the journey to enjoy a peaceful stay at Willow Springs on Stick Lake. And it is here where one can quietly let one’s imagination roam back to an era of wagons and dirt roads and boom times.
Once a somewhat larger lake, Stick Lake became two separate lakes divided by the more modern Cariboo road, Highway 97. Stick lays on the southwest side of the road beneath steep hills and a small butte. The other lake hugs the northeast side, also with steep hills rising high
above the roadway. That lake is Kersey.
Kersey is named for former Clinton resident Samuel Wade Kersey. Born in 1882, as a young man he volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force and went to France to fight in WWI. Upon his safe return he married Amelia Tresierra in 1920 and made his way to the Clinton area where he resided until his death in 1968.
Kersey Lake was originally established as a provincial park in 1969, but the designation was rescinded nine years later. Although a dock was built and picnic tables were erected, the swimming in the lake was far too cold for comfort. None of that exists today, but a trail still runs up the north side of the lake to the hills where many interesting rocks can be found and great views await.
Stick Lake proved to be a far more enjoyable swimming lake and is a rather interesting spot. First established as a campground in the 1960s, Willow Springs sits in an area once dotted with active sawmills that provided the lumber that was loaded onto Pacific Great Eastern Railway cars heading to points north and south.1 While the sawmills may not be active today the history of those economic boom times still exists, as do vestiges of the old sawmills along the dirt road at the south end of the lake.
The climb up the road is steep in areas, but well worth the effort. Odds and sods pieces of the sawmills can be found scattered about, if one is willing to explore. And many places on the road offer good views in all directions of the great expanse that surrounds the area.
On the return after hiking and exploring, one can enjoy pedalling around the lake in a paddleboat, fishing off the dock or just lolling and lazing about the pretty lake. If one still has some energy, a stroll to where the Cariboo Wagon road once was or a scramble up the butte will offer yet another perspective to this tidy and enjoyable campground. When seeking a little respite while travelling through the Cariboo, the campground is a lovely spot to stop, explore and time travel to eras long past. A simple refuge packed with many interesting bits and bites of history, Stick Lake is a treasure waiting to be discovered in the heart of Gold Country.