HIKING KELOWNA & THE OKANAGAN VALLEY

HIKING KELOWNA & THE OKANAGAN VALLEY

Brief Summary

If you are looking for your next hiking adventure with stunning scenery and great amenities, then choosing Kelowna is an excellent choice. Kelowna is located in the Canadian Rockies along the shoreline of Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley. The city boasts many attractions for outdoors adventurers throughout the whole year from skiing in the winter or camping, hiking, and kayaking in the summer months.

Kelowna, derived from the Okanagan language as "grizzly bear," sits a region surrounded by three mountain ranges: the Cascade, Coastal, and Columbia Mountains, with a multitude of parks and trails to provide hikers of various skill levels an opportunity to explore the breathtaking landscape of the Okanagan Valley and beyond.

We've compiled around 30 parks, and trails surround the city of Kelowna based on their difficulty and duration to help you plan your next hike around Kelowna.

Our Recommendations

Family Fun

Kettle Valley Railway

A Kettle Valley Railway that has been restored by volunteers to create an usual hiking and biking trail through Myra Canyon.

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Day Hiking

Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park

The Okanagan Mountain Park covers 10,000 hectares of rugged mountainside down to the shore of the lake in the valley below. 

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Multi-Day Backpacking

Monashee Provincial Park

Monashee Provincial Park has some great trails leading through alpine meadows, spruce forests and up to Mount Fostall.

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Kelowna & The Okanagan Valley

Kelowna is located about a 4-hour drive east of Vancouver, on the western side of the Canadian Rockies. Kelowna sits on the eastern shoreline at the roughly the north-south midpoint of Lake Okanagan in the Okanagan Valley. The metropolitan area of Kelowna has a population of close to 200,000 and has several neighboring smaller towns including West Kelowna (also known as Westside), Peachland and Vernon.

History

The Okanagan Valley is known to have been populated over 9000 years ago by the Syilx people following the last ice age that sculpted the valleys features. A French missionary became the first European to settle the area in 1859 with the town officially being incorporated in 1905.

Climate

Kelowna, with its humid continental climate, has warm, dry and sunny summers and relatively cold (but not perishingly cold) and cloudy winters, with four definite seasons.

​During the summer expect the Okanagan Valley, and Kelowna to be hot, typically exceeding 32 °C (90 °F) during the day with heat waves that can persist for weeks. As such, the risk of wildfires is real so please take precautions.

Despite the warm temperatures, please take care if backpacking though, as due to the lack of cloud cover, nighttime temperatures, particularly on the slopes above the valley can drop substantially. Kelowna is also an extraordinarily windless locale, with moderate precipitation (although, June is typically the wettest month of the year).

Thanks to its location next to Okanagan Lake, Kelowna experiences a relatively warm winter due to the warming effects of the lake and the sheltering effect of the surrounding mountains, with typical average winter temperatures in the city around -3°C (26.6 °F). Temperatures in the surrounding mountains will typically fall to even lower temperatures with persistent snow cover. Arctic air masses will sometimes sit in the valley producing even lower lows.

Kelowna Climate

Climate Data for Kelowna International Airport, Canada

Hiking Kelowna & Surrounding Area

The area around Kelowna and Okanagan Valley has numerous parks, and trails for hikers and backpackers of all calibers, from very short scenic, walks that could be completed in under an hour to more grueling multi-day treks along the High Rim Trail. We've pulled together and categorized around 30 parks and trails for you to peruse.

Provincial & Regional Parks

There are approximately 30 regional parks around Kelowna operated and maintained by the Regional District of Central Okanagan. The regional parks tend to be smaller, generally covering less than a couple of hundred hectares, thus, having shorter trails. That said, there are some quick trail gems to explore. These parks do allow overnight camping (indeed most close after dark), and you should stay on the designated trails to protect the native wildlife. Most allow dogs on a leash.

Within about an hours drive, there are eight provincial parks - the provincial parks are much more significant wilderness areas with some excellent trails and camping (both campsite and wilderness) possibilities.

In all parks in the region, please be Bear Aware particularly in places such as trails along creeks during the salmon spawning season.

Family Friendly Short Hikes & Trails

If you are looking for shorter hikes with more established trails a stroller or tiny legs can tackle then we recommend the following routes. There are also some great trails here if you are short of time but want to get out of the city.

  • DILWORTH MOUNTAIN
  • BERTRAM CREEK
  • mission creek
  • ROSE VALLEY
  • SCENIC CANYON
  • KELOWNA MOUNTAIN
  • MYRA CANYON TRESTLES

Myra Canyon Trestles

Difficulty: Very Easy

Trail Length: 11 km

Location: 40 mins South West of Kelowna

The Myra Canyon Trestles is a 11km long section of the Kettle Valley Railway that has been restored by volunteers to create an usual hiking and biking trail through Myra Canyon. The hike will take you over 18 trestles and through 2 tunnels and can be used as a leaping off point onto other trails for a more serious adventure. The route is fairly flat, but beware if you have a fear of heights. More info.

Short & Half-Day Hikes

If you are looking for something a bit longer and/or challenging then try the following parks.

  • KALAMOIR PARK
  • KNOX MOUNTAIN
  • KUIPER'S PEAK
  • CANYON FALLS
  • BEAR CREEK
  • FINTRY PARK

Fintry Provincial Park

Difficulty: Mod-Difficult

Trail Length: 2-3 km

Location: 40 mins north of West Kelowna

Formerly the Fintry Estate, the Fintry Provincial Park offers many amenities in it's sprawling 360 hectares. The park has over 2km of shoreline which offers the opportunity for swimming, kayaking or just relaxing at the waters edge. In addition, the park has camping facilities from spring through fall and some short hiking trails. More info

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Day-Hikes & Multi-Day Backpacking

For those serious about getting out into the wilderness for a longer trek, then we recommend the following Provincial Parks.

  • MYRA BELLEVUE
  • GLEN CANYON
  • OKANAGAN MOUNTAIN
  • MONASHEE PARK

Monashee Provincial Park

Difficulty: Difficult

Trail Length: Various

Location: 2 hours northwest of Kelowna

A great backpacking (or day trip adventures) awaits at Monashee National Park (about 2 hours northwest of Kelowna). The park has some great trails leading through alpine meadows, spruce forests and up to Mount Fostall (for the technically more competent) with stunning views to boast of. More info

Other Hiking Trails

If you are not already tired out by the numerous parks on offer in the area, there are also several possible trails to take that criss-cross the area. As with the parks, we have split them into length/difficulty.

Short Hikes (Under 2 hours)

If you are looking for a shorter hike, that will take you likely less than 2 hours (assuming you are reasonably fit), then take a look at the following three trails.

  • HARDY FALLS
  • CHRISTIE FALLS
  • PINCUSHION MOUNTAIN

Pincushion Mountain Trail

Difficulty: Mod. Difficult

Trail Length: 4 km

Location: Peachland (25 mins southwest of West Kelowna)

Pincushion Mountain is located about 25 mins south of Kelowna, on the western side of the lake. The mountain took its name following a wildfire in the 19th century which leaving the decimated tree stumps sticking out of the mountainside like a pincushion. The trail is moderately difficult with several steep gravel sections, that require appropriate footwear. More info

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Moderate Hikes (2-4 hours)

If you have the time to spend several hours hiking the trail, then there are several options around the central Okanagan Valley.

  • TREPANIER CREEK
  • MOUNT BOUCHERIE
  • CARROT BLUFFS
  • SMITH CREEK
  • SPION KOP

Spion Kop Trail

Difficulty: Difficult

Trail Length: 6 km

Location: 30 mins north of Kelowna

Name after the battle for Spioenkop in the second Boer war in South Africa, by one of its veterans, this well marked trail will take through dense forest and up to spectacular basalt cliff near the top. The summit has great views over the Okanagan Valley. More info

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Day-Hikes & Multi-Day Backpacking

If you are serious about doing some serious day (or multi-day) hiking or backpacking then consider either the shorter McDougall Rim or the longer High Rim trails.

  • MCDOUGALL RIM
  • HIGH RIM

High Rim Trail

Difficulty: Difficult

Trail Length: 55 km

Location: 30 mins east of Kelowna

The High Rim Trail runs along the east side of the okanagan valley, from Vernon to Kelowna. There are camping spots along the trail, but with 5 or 6 access points, it can easily be hiked in stages. The hike has some gorgeous areas, cedar groves, monumental Douglas Fir, great lookouts, and also traverses active forest harvesting areas. More info

If there any trails or parks you feel we should include then please feel free to contact us.

* All trail durations and difficulties are estimates. Ground conditions are constantly changing, weather conditions and the groups fitness will all play factors. 

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About the Author Scott Jackson

I'm Scott, one-half of the duo behind MyOpenCountry. In an age when everyone seems to be locked to their small blue screens, I am vehemently passionate about getting more people outside to enjoy the wonder of nature. I grew up with the outdoors on my doorstep, and when I headed off to university I picked a degree in geology that allowed me to spend a lot of time outside on field trips! Over the last 30 years, I have camped or hiked through the wilderness on 5 continents. I hope my posts are informative for both the grizzled veteran and the complete novice alike.

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