Hiking in the Okanagan Similkameen of British Columbia

Hiking in the Okanagan Similkameen, BC, Canada

Hiking the Okanagan Similkameen of British Columbia

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  • Travel info for the Okanagan Similkameen.   Trails in this area.

    The Similkameen runs from the desert like region of Osoyoos along Highway 3 to the historic town of Princeton, some 100 km (60 mi.) away, while the Okanagan Valley stretches some 250 km (155 mi.) starting at Osoyoos and making its way to Enderby. Some of the warmest and dries climate in Canada is found here, where history, recreation, working farms and orchards all make up a very special part of the province. More than 250 lakes including Skaha, Okanagan and Kalamalka are in this region, where fishing and water sports are just part of the life style. Golfing, skiing, horse back riding, mountain biking and hiking are all favourite pastimes of both residents and visitors. This natural wonderland with alpine meadows, rushing rivers and streams surrounded by sage covered mountains is orchard country and is home to a number of wineries. From excellent day hikes to adventure filled backpacking trips, its all waiting for you in the Okanagan Similkameen in British Columbia.

    Cathedral Provincial Park: Cathedral Provincial Park at Keremeos with 32,384 ha (80,000 acres) of wilderness that includes alpine meadows, glacier lakes and wildlife is excellent hiking and becoming very popular because of its extreme beauty. From Keremeos travel south on the Ashnola River Road to the resort parking lot.

    Cascade Mountains:

    You are now high in the Cascade Mountains with 32 km (20 mi.) of hiking trails and wilderness camping. Most hikers use Cathedral Lake Resort at Lake Quiniscoe as a base, where they can get information on the hiking and camping from the park warden. One of the many added attractions in this park is the wildlife, so don't be surprised when you see bighorn sheep, black bears, mountain goats, mule deer, porcupines and ground squirrels. The best time to hike in Cathedral Park is anytime from July to September. Should you decide to do your hiking in September, you will be pleasantly surprised by the golden alpine larch growing on the mountain sides. This particular variety of alpine larch is only found in Cathedral and Manning Park, as well as in small areas of the Rockies. Although this is a wilderness park, hiking is not strenuous and the rewards are many.


    A great day hike from Keremeos is to the Keremeos Columns, a return trip of 12 km (7.5 mi.) which should take approximately five to six hours. During the summer this area of BC becomes very hot, so carry drinking water, or else do this hike in early spring. Take Highway 3A from Keremeos and travel north to the cemetery where you turn right and go east for a short way. On your way to the columns you will hike through arid-country wildflowers, found only in dry areas. The columns are 100 metres (328 feet) wide and 30 metres (98 feet) high and were formed during volcanic activity more than 30 millions years ago.

    Apex Mountain:

    Enjoy superb views and easy summer hiking on Apex Mountain, just south east of Penticton. Hikers will find themselves in subalpine area and wildflowers galore. This area offers inspiring views of Manning and Cathedral parks.

    Kettle Valley Railway:

    The Kettle Valley Railway, easily the most historic rail line in BC can be seen and hiked from many different areas of the Okanagan Similkameen. The KVR ran from Vancouver to Hope, Princeton, West Summerland, Penticton, Osoyoos, through Naramata along the south side of Lake Okanagan, and then swung due south to Rock Creek and finally Midway. There are a number of hikes from the different cities and town in the region, the most popular and well known is the Myra Canyon. a 13 km (8 mi.) stretch of the old railway, which can be reached by heading east of Kelowna on McCulloch Road to the Myra Forest Service Road, follow it until you come to where the road and KVR meet.

    Okanagan Mountain Park:

    Okanagan Mountain Park, a desert like wilderness area, has 24 km (15 mi.) of hiking and riding trails. To reach the northern access to this park head south from Kelowna by way of Pandosy Street, down the east side of Okanagan Lake along Lakeshore Road to the parking lot. The most popular hike in the Okanagan Mountain Park is to Wild Horse Canyon, a deep and isolated spot. The southern access, to this park, is north of Penticton on the Naramata road to Chute Lake and along Gemmill Lake Road to the parking lot. The hike from one end to the other end of the park is about 25 km (15.5 mi) and will take approximately ten hours, but you can do much short hikes. Parts here are very dry and it's rattler country, wear sensible hiking boots, leave rocks and other tempting items alone.

    Cougar Canyon:

    Cougar Canyon, east of Kalamalka Lake offers excellent day hiking. The canyon floor features small ponds and a wild array of wildlife, from rattlesnakes to mallard ducks with numerous wildflowers in the spring. From Vernon, take the Kalamalka Road east, turn right on Coldstream Road, then on Cosen's Bay Road to the parking lot and the trail head. Canyon Creek trail branches left after crossing under the power line, follow under the power line to the canyon. It can be very hot and dry in the summer time, be prepared with drinking water, sun screen and a hat. There is no camping here, and the hike is 9 km (5.5 mi.) one way, so pace yourself. Be safe, have fun!

    Silver Star:

    Silver Star, only 30 minutes from Vernon, best known as a down hill ski resort, is also a very popular hiking region. Hikers can use the chairlift to reach the mountain alpine meadows, where you will find wonderful trails offering views that are unbelievable.

    There are many other hiking trails and back packing opportunities in the Okanagan Similkameen, check with local clubs and hiking equipment dealers for complete trail information. Always consider the terrain, the climate and your abilities before you take off, and be well prepared. Be safe, have fun!

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    Hiking in the Okanagan Similkameen of British Columbia