Kentucky Alleyne Provincial Park
The bright turquoise lakes of Kentucky Alleyne Provincial Park are situated deep in the cattle country off the Princeton-Kamloops Highway (5A) south of Merritt near Aspen Grove. The park, which was established on March 5, 1981, features several kettle lakes, gentle rolling grasslands, and open forests of large Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine. Once the secret of locals, this 144-hectare park has become a very popular area for fishing, and for those wanting to get closer to nature thanks to easier access to the southern interior once the Coquihalla Highway and the Highway 97C Connector to the Okanagan were built.
Surrounded by land owned by the historic Douglas Lake Ranch, the largest ranch in Canada with a rich and colourful history spanning back to the 1880's, Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park, is known for its outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities, particularly from the well-marked 4 km walking trail that circles Kentucky Lake. The trail, which starts near the campground on the northeast side of the lake, is an easy hike with few elevation changes. The Nicola Naturalist Society makes regular visits to the area to record and observe the plant and wildlife activity in the area.
Alleyne Lake, the larger of the two, sits in an ecological transition zone between the drier grasslands above, located on the northern and eastern slopes, and the lush pine forests on the south and west edges of the lake.
Birdwatching is a popular activity on the trail and there are plenty of species to see. Waterfowl such as mallards, teal, grebe, and goldeneye are plentiful, attracted to the marshy edges of the lakes and ponds. Hawks and falcons can be seen above the grasslands, and the blue-listed sharptail grouse, whose population is declining across North America, is known to frequent the area as well. Down on the ground jack rabbits, ground squirrels and deer are often seen around the lakeshore or among the aspens.
The small lakes in the area are known to be breeding sites for the Western toad. In the summer it is not uncommon to see thousands of black tadpoles and, later, emerging toadlets, around the shores of the lakes.
The lakes in the park, including Kentucky Lake, Alleyne Lake, and smaller lakes and ponds, are also very popular for fishing. The larger lakes are stocked with rainbow trout and the area even features a 'children only' fishery, designed to inspire enthusiasm for fishing among teens and younger children. These ponds, located between Kentucky and Alleyne Lakes, are open only to those under the age of 16.