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May 2017

Top 5 outdoor activities around Vernon


Author: Rosanna P. Brost who works at the local Valhalla Pure Outfitters Vernon.

Vernon - a little slice of paradise in the sunny Okanagan surrounded by lakes, trails, downhill biking and wineries. Here is an overview of the best outdoor activities in and around Vernon BC, written by our local store so full with local info.

Mountain Biking

Vernon is home to world class mountain biking, with the Silver Star Mountain Resort having recently completed its epic new 35 km Beowulf cross country trail. Prefer downhill? Silver Star has that too! If you want to go somewhere more mellow, there’s also mountain biking in Kalamalka Lake, Ellison Provincial Park, and XC trails on the Commonage and up behind Blue Jay and Goose Lake to check out. Venturing a bit further afield opens up Lumby, Trinity Valley, Mabel Lake, Deep Creek, Hullcar and Falkland. Neighbouring Kelowna is home to the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, the abandoned railway’s spectacular Myra Canyon Trestles and Wild Horse Canyon.

Canoe, Kayak and SUP Board

Vernon is literally surrounded by lakes, there’s no better place in the interior to go for a casual paddle. If the traffic on Okanagan Lake has you daunted, worry not – the Okanagan Valley is a mecca of freshwater. Vernon’s crown jewel is undoubtedly the colourful Kalamalka Lake, which was once voted one of the top ten most beautiful lakes in the world by National Geographic and whose name means ‘Lake of many Colours’. Have you ever wondered how or even why Kalamalka Lake turns an emerald green every summer? Tourism Vernon has the answer: "When the lake warms in the summer, dissolved limestone crystallizes, giving the lake a distinctive blue and green hue.” There are many more available lakes available though - choose from Mable, Sugar, Swan, Duck, Otter, White, Mara, Oyama (find also Oyama Zipline Adventure Park here!), Gardom and many more. Prefer rivers? The Shuswap River is here as well and when you’re done all that paddling, there’s always a nearby beach from which to cool off or enjoy the sunset.

Hiking and Backpacking

Vernon is home to several provincial parks that are great for hiking, with the cream of the crop being Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park (Kal Park) which boasts 3,218 hectares of preserved native semi-desert grasslands with over 14 km worth of trails. From Kal Park you can hike into the beautiful Cougar Canyon Ecological Reserve, and if you start early, follow the powerlines down to Oyama from Cougar. Besides Kal Park, in the North Okanagan there is also Ellison, Kekuli Bay, Fintry and further afield, Bear Creek - all Provincial Parks that boast excellent hiking. If you want the best view in the North Okanagan Valley, we can’t help but recommend the summit of Mount Rose, from which you can see many of our local lakes. Need some lush alpine and old growth instead of all that grassland and ponderosa pine forest? We are also close to the Monashees, with trails like Spectrum Lake, Twin Lakes, and the Pinnacles to stoke your appetite. If you are willing to embark on a bit of a road trip than the hiking In Cathedrals at Crater Lakes, plus Manning Provincial Park are also just three hours away.

If you are interested in backpacking, Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park is also home to the northern terminus of the High Rim Trail, which runs over a course of 55 km between Kal Park and Wrinkly Face Bluffs in Kelowna. In the Monashees, there is also the Marc Berger Traverse for experienced hikers and Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park near Kelowna is possibly the Okanagan’s premier backpacking destination, offering many beautiful backcountry camps in a very unique environment. In 2003, the park was incinerated by a wildfire, which left open stands of burnt out forest interspaced with beautiful wildflower meadows. Discover secluded lakes Baker and Divide and camps along Okanagan Lake as well. Further away, Manning Provincial Park is home to the magnificent Heather Trail and the Skyline Trail.

Rock Climbing and Bouldering

The Okanagan has some incredible climbing to offer and both sport climbing as well as bouldering can be found in Cougar Canyon, Ellison Provincial Park and the Aberdeen Columns. With hot, sunny Okanagan summer weather, what better way than to spend an afternoon lake-side climbing at Ellison Provincial park and finishing off the day with a swim in Okanagan Lake. The Aberdeen Columns comprised of over 130 basalt columns is located about 20kms south-east of Vernon are definitely worth checking out if you're into trad or crack climbing. Cougar Canyon has plenty of sport climbing routes in a range of grades and definitely takes the cake on hot Okanagan summer days for bouldering as the temperatures drop significantly at the bottom of the canyon but be sure to bring bug spray! The outdoor climbing season in the Okanagan ranges anywhere from mid April sometimes all the way through to the end of October. However, if the weather doesn't allow for an outdoor climbing adventure, there's plenty of fun to be had at our local indoor climbing gym. The Rock Garden Climbing center has something to offer for all levels. A 2000+ square foot facility with 19+ feet of vertical wall for top-ropes and plenty of bouldering including a cave! For more information on climbing in the Okanagan, have a look at Vernon Tourism and

Wineries, Breweries and Orchards

The Okanagan was originally made famous by its orchards, so it’s no surprise that fruit stands are still a very common sight here. Here in Vernon, we have Davison’s Orchards Country Village, where you can pick apples right off of the tree, sample tasty fresh baked goods and buy their delicious apple juice. (And trust us, you have not tasted an apple until you have had one right off of the tree!) Vernon is also home to Planet Bee, where you can buy local bee products ranging from the honey itself, to royal jelly and tasty mead. Elsewhere in Vernon you can find Okanagan Spirits, which is western Canada’s original craft distillery, making everything from single malt whisky to gin, vodka, fruit brandies, absinthe and aquavit. More of a wine connoisseur? The Okanagan is famous for its outstanding wines and it is the birthplace of Icewine in Canada in 1972. While our valley is home to over a hundred wineries, particular favourites include Sandhill, Burrowing Owl, Inniskillin and Summerhill Pyramid. Tours and tastings can be found at many of these farmgate wineries, making the Okanagan a foodies dream.

Here at Valhalla Pure Vernon we’re always eager to point you on your next great adventure, come in any time for some local tips!