Whether you’re looking for a stroll through mountain flowers, a brisk walk on a rolling trail, or a challenging vertical hike, the Okanagan has just the outing for you. Here are a few of my favourites.
Silver Star Mountain Alpine Flowers
There’s nothing like a peaceful stroll through Silver Star’s high mountain meadows to brighten your spirits. Mid to late summer a breathtaking array of alpine wildflowers, including purple Lupin, crimson Paintbrush and daintily swaying Daisies, lines the trails. There are several ways to access the meadows. Friday to Sunday the summit chair leaves from the end of the village. Monday to Thursday a 20-minute downhill hike takes you to the Comet Chair for the ascent to flower heaven. Keen hikers, up for a challenge of trekking to the summit from the village, have the choice of five different trails, varying in length and steepness. How ever you choose to get there, the colours, scents and serenity will soothe your soul.
Hungry from all that walking? Back on Main Street in Silver Star village have a seat and loosen your boot laces at one of the picnic tables on the deck at Bugaboos Bakery and Café. Order one of Frank Berkers’ hearty specialties, soup in a bun, or try his famous cinnamon buns with a latte. After all, you used up a ton of calories! www.skisilverstar.com
Amazing Viewpoint at Enderby Cliffs
If you are looking for a great cardio workout to challenge your glutes and quads, the iconic Tplaqin Enderby Cliffs Trail is for you. Rated moderate to strenuous, the 670 vertical metre trail starts with a family friendly section through birch and old growth forest. The middle portion rises with a consistent steep elevation gain, then the upper section wanders through sub-alpine mountain meadows to a dramatic cliff edge with views of the Shuswap and the Okanagan Valley and the Shuswap River snaking through a patchwork of farmer’s fields. Upgraded in 2010 through a collaborative effort of the Splatsin Indian Band, the Shuswap Trail Alliance and BC Parks, the trail takes two and a half to three hours each way. Take a lunch, snacks and lots of water. The cliff-side perch drops off steeply so keep a close eye on the kids. Dogs must be on a leash. Just steps away from sage brush and rabbit brush, settle down on a smooth rock, the perfect place for a picnic... and a rest. If you’re lucky you’ll be treated to a glimpse of eagles or turkey vultures soaring on the thermal updrafts. Hike quietly and you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a moose, cougar, bobcat, white-tailed deer or martin or even a grizzly. www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/enderby_cliffs/
Okanagan Rail Trail Legacy for Future Generations
Can’t decide on a form of exercise for the day? Soon you’ll have a choice of walking, running or biking, all on one trail, thanks to the collaborative effort of the municipalities of Kelowna, Lake Country, the Regional District of North Okanagan and the Province of B.C. Construction of the 4.6-metre trail could begin as early as Spring 2017 along the discontinued CN railway running from Coldstream to Kelowna. The completed trail will provide the perfect location for anything from a leisurely lakeside intergenerational stroll or easy jog along any section of the relatively flat route to an energetic cycle 48.5 km ride from start to end. Whatever your mode of transportation, there’s lots to enjoy along the way. Learn more about the Syilx along the 2.3 km that goes through Okanagan Indian Band territory. Enjoy lake views, creeks and unique natural habitats along 24 km of the trail. Most of all, relax and savour the serenity of walking, running and biking far from road congestion, noise and danger. Kudos to those who continue to make this dream a reality. Just one more outstanding feature of life in the Okanagan, for both locals and visitors to use and appreciate for now and generations to come. https://okanaganrailtrail.ca
Cool Evening Mist at Crawford Falls in Canyon Falls Park
Not for the faint of heart, unfit, or poorly equipped adventurer, this after work getaway hike offers many rewards. After a sweaty hike on a sultry Okanagan summer evening, arrival at two falls spraying cool mist makes the 2 km route well worth the effort. The first 20 minutes along the Kelowna City Parks trail is quite difficult but ends at a 6-metre-high waterfall. Continue about 10 more minutes to the larger 12 metre waterfall. Warning! Ropes that formerly offered assistance on steep ascents and descents have been removed. Work is underway to make the trail to the bottom safer. Wear sturdy hiking boots with non-skid soles, carry water and hike with a partner. Parking is limited at Canyon Falls Court and cars parked less than 3 metres from driveways will be ticketed or towed. For access details visit: https://www.tourismkelowna.com/do/outdoor-recreation/hiking/
Once part of Lord Aberdeen’s Coldstream Ranch the area was used for grazing cattle, then later during World War II (WWII) saw service as a Commando Training Area. Established as a park in 1975 the 3,700-hectare park protects several endangered species in its grassland, unique wetland and cliff habitats. The extensive trail system, one accessible to pets, offers the choice of several routes leading to beaches at Cosens, the Twin Bays Jade and Juniper. Even with three parking lots the area can get busy in summer so it’s best to start out early. The Red Gate and Twin Bay lots offer closer access to Jade and Juniper Bays. Juniper is a favourite of local distance swimmers preparing for the Okanagan’s annual Across the Lake Swim. If you want to stretch your legs a bit before settling down to a picnic, park your car at the Cosens Bay lot. There are several high rim trails to choose from. Try one before lunch and another after! Safety issues include the presence of poison ivy and rattlesnakes. Keep the kids close and the dog on a leash. www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/kalamalka_lk/
New to the Okangan? Check out one of these local clubs to find some hiking buddies who will help you discover all the Okanagan has to offer for walkers, runners and hikers.