Because in the end you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.
– Jack Kerouac
One beautiful trail per week. With over 52 breathtaking trails in the Kelowna area alone, the Okanagan is loaded with opportunities for the hiking and outdoor enthusiast. With a fair balance between easy and difficult trails, there is enough variety to satisfy all skill levels from the casual to the hardcore. Be it the spectacular lake and valley views, or the constant wonder of nature within every trail, each hike will clear your mind and leave you eager to explore the next.
While the Okanagan’s smaller chain of hills cannot compete with some of the massive and challenging climbs that can be found in parts of the Rockies, the network of trails that exists in the valley is quite impressive. For the most part, the trails are quite accessible and well maintained and many are dog friendly. Commuting time to the trails is not a barrier as many of the best hikes are either located right in the Kelowna area or within a short drive away.
When we moved to the Okanagan one of the things we noticed right away was how inviting it is to spend time outdoors. With mild winters, an idyllic spring and fall, and nearly endless summer sunshine, hiking is a year-round activity. In fact, when looking for relief from the hot Okanagan sun you can find reprieve on many of the trails as the higher elevation and cooler, shady hikes make it a pleasurable summer activity.
So what are some of the best trails to hike in the Okanagan? A local group of hikers have built an excellent website dedicated to ranking each trail. However, I will present my list (in no particular order) of the top 5 trails in the area.
- Myra Canyon: One of the most accommodating trails around, this section of former rail bed offers spectacular views of the Okanagan Valley and the opportunity to traverse across 18 trestles and through 2 caves.
- Knox Mountain: One of Kelowna’s most popular hiking spots given it’s proximity to downtown. The lookout points on this network of trails offer some of the best views of the city hands-down.
- Spion Kopp: Located in Lake Country this is one of the best network of trails in the Okanagan. With several trailheads, there is a variety between casual and difficult and the views offered at the summit are unparalleled.
- Mill Creek Regional Park: This is an excellent trail for people that are looking for a more casual hike or those families that have a dog (as they are welcome on leash). Along the way you’ll hit a small waterfall which is a popular spot for a dip.
- BX Falls: Located in Vernon, this trail winds you through a beautiful cedar forest. Hiking along BX creek there are several bridges to cross as you zigzag across the water and end at a fast-flowing waterfall.
The benefits of hiking are numerous. With each step you take into the wilderness the stresses of the mind seem to dissipate. Before long you become completely unaware of any problem that was previously occupying your thoughts as the freshness of the air and the sound of nature resets your system and restores balance to your body. Each hike is an adventure and fulfills the urge to explore and discover. So the next time you are looking for that perfect activity, whether a solo meditative journey or a social outing with friends, choose a trail to hike and take advantage of the privileged access to nature that we have here in the Okanagan.