With nearly 300 sunny days per year on average – Summer time holds some of our favourite activities in the Okanagan (with one of them being Hiking) and if Okanagan Valley means “People living where you can see the top” – Take our advice, and check out these four!
Christie Falls – As a newcomer to Kelowna, I’m stoked to have so many nearby trails that promise spectacular views or even waterfalls this hike for sure ticks both those boxes!
Getting to the trailhead is a bit of journey (directions), taking you up some windy forestry roads. The final stretch gets a little gnarly but once you’re at the trailhead, the hike itself is actually quite short. You’ll saunter through the bush for a bit before heading down some steep and narrow switchbacks, climbing all the way down a cliffside. This bit gets somewhat technical – you’ll be thankful for the ropes attached to trees all throughout the descent.
Once you make it to near the bottom, there’s an awesome “reveal moment” when the falls come into view when you round the final corner. There’s a rope fastened onto the far side of the cliff if you’re brave enough to swing in for a closer look!
Like I said, the hike itself isn’t that long, but the descent to the falls is steep, making the hike out a bit of a challenge. So after the arduous climb out of the canyon, take a break at the nearby reservoir that you pass on the way to the trailhead!
We grabbed some lunch from Urban Fare’s huge deli counter on our way to the westside which, after that steep climb, probably ranks among my better life decisions (Not to mention the bonus 10% Off with the GetintheLoop app)! If you’re feeling a bit parched after the hike, you’re best bet is finding a shady spot on the patio at the XChange and pouring up some of their famous sangria (just $5 when you use GetintheLoop for this one as well!)
Balmoral Bluffs, Blind Bay – Located almost 25km West of Salmon Arm lies the Balmoral Bluffs. This is one of the most well known trails in the Shuswap Area and for a great reason. This trail was created in 2008 with the purpose to connect with the Blind Bay Lookout and White Lake trail system!
If you are looking to go for a nice afternoon stroll with nothing too hard, be sure to stay on the lower loop – it is perfect for getting outside and still taking in the scenic views the trail has to offer. At the top of the lower loop is a trail that leads to the top of a ridge, which overlooks the beautiful Blind Bay! Take it from me – this is a great spot to take in the sunset and maybe even have a beer or two!
On your way back into or through Salmon Arm after your trek, be sure to stop off at Off the Beat Pub + Lounge, one place with two rooms of fun and entertainment – Enjoy 50% Off wings overnight or $4.50 Beer anytime! Check them out HERE. The Shuswap has a vast amount of trails, so get out and explore!
Directions: 9.3km East of Sorrento, 24km West of Salmon Arm, Turn North onto Balmoral Road and follow for about 1.5km and watch for the trailhead parking lot on the right, just before Alpen Paradies subdivision!
Cougar Canyon – Located in Vernon, BC this hike begins as a trail in Kalamalka Lake Provincial. With great company, a tiny road trip to get there, breath taking views, and getting slightly lost on the way down – who wouldn’t consider this a top hike? I had hunted for this location before and now looking back it’s silly to say hunted because it’s conveniently located and easy to navigate (Don’t Judge me).
You can reach this trails by exiting Hwy. 97 east by Okanagan College and driving through Coldstream. You will then enter the beautiful Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park at the east side at Cosens bay gate and from there take your car along the road (For a little bit, crossing under the power lines a few times) or option to bike the scenic terrain. I should note – There is a trail merger which says Cougar Canyon on it (1.3km)!
So you’ve now arrived, parked the car, brought snacks – Or like me, already ate the snacks, and you’re ready to head up. You don’t have to set aside your whole day, the hike to the cliff’s itself didn’t take too long and I would consider it an easy to moderate hiking experience depending on the path you take. On the way up you will see popular spots to rock climb, ponds, wildlife and lush terrain. The lead up to the view point is very pretty itself – and when you get to a fork in the trail, go to the right, not the left!
The canyon is absolutely breath taking. The view point shows off the entire canyon and main valley, Kale Lake and at the very top has the perfect bench to rest and taking in all the sights. I had also stumbled upon another view on the left side – A huge valley of dense forestry and enormous rock faces that you have to make sure you see; I truly felt extra lucky than normal to live in the Okanagan with this in my “backyard.”
In the end I would 100% hike this again, it was a quick trail with multiple pathways and options depending on what you want to see and would be the perfect spot to have a picnic. My recommendation is to go in the morning and make sure to stop by Birch Hill studio if you don’t have the correct gear, their latest GetintheLoop offer; 25% Off all athletic wear can be found HERE!
Looking for more adventure? Try Historic Ranch Tours on Horseback at O’Keefe Ranch for only $45 HERE or 20% Off on Kayaks, !5% Off River Floaties and 20% Off SUP Paddles at Innerspace Watersports HERE.
Carrot Mountain Bluffs – So it’s Saturday morning and like most Saturday’s I have a little stinger from celebrating the end of a great week the night before. My roommate, Lukas who is our lead programer at GetintheLoop, asks me if I want to go for a hike to sweat ‘it’ out and catch up, he describes the hike as easy to moderate so I think it will be a great way to start off the sunny weekend with a little exercise.
We drive the short 15 minutes out to West Kelowna (directions HERE) and start our trek up the hill.
Throughout this uphill hike you will be right in the middle of thick trees on the mountain side to crossing over creeks a few times. Depending on the time of year will determine the size of the creek… or river, as we were in the late spring when run off was at its peak so we ended up trekking through the stream as the path was, at the time, was under water.
It is at this point that easy to moderate for a triathlete competitor is advanced for a guy like me.
As Lukas, my iron man roommate who also hikes 3-4 days up in the mountains in the middle of Rockies in winter is looking back on me from 40 feet up the hill he starts cracking a few jokes about how bad of shape I am in and that this hike is good for my health. “It was a Stroll” as Lukas like to remember it.
At this point I am distracted from the muscle pain and doing everything I can to not…… push him in the river that drowned out our “easy to moderate” hiking path.
I kept my cool and persisted up the hill passed a few pretty cool water falls and some steep inclines; with each steep incline came better views and then the trail opens up and flattens out until you make your way to the top where you will find the Canadian flag and the stunning backdrop of Okanagan Lake, West Kelowna and Shannon Lake Golf Course – Plug, they are a GetintheLoop client, check them out HERE!
The hike took us about 1.5 hours in total and was about 5km round trip.
So the real question is; Would I do it again and do I recommend it? Yes and Yes – as a matter of fact I have a few times since. It was more the dissapointment in myself that easy to moderate for Lukas is ‘difficult/advanced’ hike for me and I think this hurt my ego more than anything.
I have obviously been doing too many stair climbs at BNA for another round of Pamela Blonde Beers and bocce…. and not enough time climbing up hills – But speaking of BNA check out their GetintheLoop offers HERE while you’re at it!