The Hamilton Corrals Commonage is Crown land in the upper grasslands above Quilchena. To get there, turn up the Pennask Lake Road from Nicola Lake and watch the mileage markers on the way up as the road climbs 1700 feet past private lands to the Commonage. At about 11.5 km (N50 05.139 W120 26.978) a road goes off to the left, bearing east. Find a place to park and then follow the road through the lower part of the west-facing slopes.
Part way along this road, a small section of private land is designated by a gate. This belongs to the Douglas Lake Ranch so hikers can ask for permission or can veer 150m south to go around the small section of land. If cattle are grazing in the area, hikers should respectfully go around and rejoin the track 700m ahead.
We followed the track as it passed several larger ponds, then wound around Deadman’s Lake and climbed southeast. We continued to use the double track which allowed access through gates, avoiding fence crossings. The ponds were low in the fall. When we were here in the spring, ducks and grasslands birds were abundant.
A few forested patches in sheltered spots are found within a grasslands environment.
This fall hike was about 12km, but hikers can vary the length to the conditions and their interests. Grazing licenses should be respected so we always so pick routes around any cattle in the pastures. Take care with fences and close gates after passing through. In spring there will be more wildlife in the area, but ticks would also be out. Wildflower season would be from April through June. In fall we saw colorful shrubs, seedheads, fungi, and rabbitbrush.
The high grasslands are a fine destination after a season of hiking in the forest and climbing to the alpine. We are fortunate to have access to this section of Crown land amid a vast area of private grazing lands. This is an area to walk quietly, respecting both the wildlife and any grazing activity. On this fall day, all of the cattle had been moved to feedlots, slaughterhouses, and winter grazing lands so we saw only coyotes, a bear, hawks, and some deer.