This past week I had the pleasure of staying in the town of Vernon, in the Okanagan region of British Columbia. I was able to get out and hike regularly in the company of two lovely large dogs. The last hike we did was in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, which is located just outside city limits to the south-east of Vernon.
Hike Name: Lookout Trail
Date: Saturday December 4
Location: Coldstream, BC
Approx. drive time: 15 minutes
Distance: 6 mi. / 10 km
Elevation gain: unknown
Max. elevation: unknown
Time on trail: 2 hours
Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park is a large park which only came under Provincial protection in 2008. It protects a large area of grasslands and forests at the north end of beautiful Kalamalka Lake. The lake is a glacial lake and is often a bright cyan blue colour due to calcite in the water.
There are many trails that criss-cross the park. Earlier in the week I had done the easierCosens Bay Trail, crossing through the rolling hills and grasslands to a beach on the lake.
The Lookout Trail was next on my list, as it would take me up to the higher points on the hill/mountain on the north side of the park. I could also hike the Lookout Trail as part of a larger loop, making it longer or shorter as I wished.
With the dogs loaded in the truck, we headed to the main parking area in the east end of the park.
There was some fresh snow on the ground, and a bit of ice on the trail, but we had no problems with traction with our hiking boots. With a bit more snow we might have wanted our trail crampons, and of course the trails will be great for snowshoeing later in the winter.
The first section of trail is called the Grassland Trail. It climbs gradually through a thin pine forest and then opens into grass fields. At a trail junction we continued left, joining up with the Corral Trail, so called because you travel through an old cattle corral.
We came to another junction and this time turned right, starting our climb on the Lookout Trail. The climb was mostly gradual, with lots of switchbacks to help us through the steeper sections. We were soon rewarded with great views south to the lake and the high hills beyond.
The trail stayed to the south edge of the hill, continuing to offer great views. The highest point on the trail is known as “John’s Jump Lookout.” As intriguing as the name is, there is very little information available about why it’s called that.
The trail turned north, following a hydro corridor. We had the option of shortening our hike by taking a shortcut trail called “The Parabola.” We decided to continue with our original, longer hike and so stayed on the main trail which continued north, dropping down into the forest for a kilometer or so.
When we next came to a junction we turned left, joining up with the “Comin’ Round the Mountain” trail section. While not as interesting as the high points, the trail still treated us to views north of nearby orchards and the outskirts of Vernon beyond.
After a couple more kilometers, we closed our loop, passing back through the corral and the grasslands.
If you have a couple hours to spend in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, then I would definitely recommend doing the Lookout Trail. It gave us a great taste of the different ecosystems of the park and some awesome views of the surrounding area. Plus, if you want to make it longer, you can turn right at the “Comin’ Round the Mountain” junction and join up with the Cosen’s Bay trail, dropping through the wider grasslands to a beach on the lake. A swim in the lake would be an especially great reward in the summertime!