The Most Underrated Hike in Kelowna: Scenic Canyon Regional Park
Kelowna, BC, Canada is surrounded by mountains and lakes, so it’s no wonder there are so many amazing hiking trails to choose from. I recently wrote an article for Explore Magazine on Ten of the Best Hikes Near Kelowna, but there was one extra that I felt needed to be added to that list. If you’re like me, you love hiking the popular hot spots in different places around the world. However you probably also love a good, uncrowded, hidden gem. It’s so nice to go off the beaten path, so I’ve decided to share with you one of my favorite spots in my hometown. I truly believe that Scenic Canyon Regional Park is the most underrated hike in Kelowna, BC.
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Scenic Canyon Regional Park: A South East Kelowna Hidden Gem
There’s not nearly as much information online about Scenic Canyon Regional Park as there is on Knox Mountain, for example. In fact, there’s not much information on Scenic Canyon as compared to most hikes in Kelowna. This is largely due to the fact that Scenic Canyon is nestled up in South East Kelowna. Usually, when I try to explain to friends and coworkers that I live in South East Kelowna, they say, “Where’s that?” Most of these friends are Kelowna locals or people who have lived in Kelowna for at least a few years, so that’s saying something.
South East Kelowna is a beautiful area about 15 to 20 minutes from Downtown. It’s an eclectic mix of orchards, wineries, golf courses and insane views overlooking Kelowna and Okanagan Lake. There are a few different hiking trails up in the South East Kelowna area, but my favorite, and the most underrated, is Scenic Canyon.
How to Get to Scenic Canyon
There are two main entrances to Scenic Canyon Regional Park and one hidden entrance as well. One option is to take Hollywood Road South and access Scenic Canyon through the Mission Creek Greenway. The other option is to drive all the way up McCulloch Road and then head up Field Road until you reach the parking lot. The hidden entrance can be found way up McCulloch Road just before you get to a part of the road that makes a big bend to the right. There’s not much signage, but there’s a small white gate there nestled into a bunch of trees. Right before the gate is a wide, dirt, pull-over spot as well. If you drive through the white gate you will find a tiny parking lot hiding in the forest and a trailhead there as well.
It can be kind of confusing getting to Scenic Canyon for anyone not accustomed to winding country roads and it can be easy to get lost in the orchards as well. In this case, this map, along with Google Maps are your friends! Google Maps tends to be very accurate for this park and can help you access the trails with ease. When you type ‘Scenic Canyon Regional Park’ onto Google Maps, two options will pop up. One will say ‘Scenic Canyon Regional Park – Kelowna’ and the other will say ‘Scenic Canyon Regional Park – Field Road’. The one that says ‘Kelowna’ is the Hollywood Road South entrance. If you want to start at the hidden entrance then just take McCulloch until you see the black gate.
Why Scenic Canyon is the Most Underrated Hike in Kelowna: The Trails
I mentioned above that Scenic Canyon is mainly underrated because of its location. However, any old hiking trail could be a little out of the way and that wouldn’t necessarily mean that it was underrated. The main reason I think Scenic Canyon is so underrated is because of how beautiful the trails are.
Forest surrounds the trails leading down and around the canyon. This forest breaks apart at different points to offer incredible views of Layer Cake Mountain and Pinnacle Point. Cooling and shrinking volcanic rock formed these unique structures. There are actually so many unique rock formations to see throughout Scenic Canyon, you can never really get bored by them. Aside from these views, there’s also a beautiful, gurgling, creek running through the park called KLO Creek. Not only can you enjoy a forest surrounded creek with mountainous views, you can also hike along clearings of small mountain ridges that drop off to reveal stunning valley views.
Cultural History of Scenic Canyon
Chinese laborers originally used Scenic Canyon as a base camp while building the Kettle Valley Railway through Myra Canyon. This railway was completed in 1914. At various points throughout Scenic Canyon you can find big, shallow, blackened caves carved into mountainsides. The laborers used these as rock ovens over 100 years ago.
One mystery of Scenic Canyon is the crushed red car at the end of one of the trails. It seems as though the car either fell, or was pushed, off the side of the cliff into the river. I have seen this car many times but haven’t been to this part of the trail in a while so I’m not sure if it’s still there. When I asked my dad about it, he told me that the first time he hiked Scenic Canyon was about 20 years ago, and the car was there then too.
Scenic Canyon’s Wildlife
There are plenty of birds in Scenic Canyon and you can sometimes see deer throughout the trails and forest as well. Scenic Canyon also experiences a bit of bear activity so be sure to read up on bear safety if you haven’t already done so. I have personally never seen a bear on the trails, but I grew up and still live extremely close to Scenic Canyon and we sometimes get bears even in our own backyard. It’s unlikely that you will see one since the surrounding area is constantly becoming more developed but just be prepared in case you do.
Beating the Crowds: Why Scenic Canyon is the Most Underrated Hike in Kelowna
South East Kelowna is really not that far away from Downtown. Yet because there are so many trails closer to Downtown, Scenic Canyon often gets overlooked. One thing I can guarantee is that Scenic Canyon is a quiet set of trails. It definitely gets a little busier in the summer, but still, most tourists will end up sticking to Knox Mountain. So if you’re a local who wants to try something different, or a traveler looking to find an off-the-beaten-path adventure, then Scenic Canyon is the Park for you!
PS. Always Leave the Trail Better than You Found It
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