On the Trans Canada Trail near Summerland
By Carol Stathers
There is nothing better than a snowy, sunny Okanagan day to entice you to get your snowshoes out and hit the trails! We often think that snowshoeing is just for the winter months but as we start to head towards spring, you can find some great snowy trails through March and sometimes into early April. Snowshoeing has become increasingly popular and for good reason – it is economical, easy to access and a great way to keep fit.
For groomed trails, two of our favourites include the Telemark Nordic Club, near West Kelowna and the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre, near Penticton. Both have a great variety of trails that cater to all skill levels and if you want to spend an hour, two or longer.
Telemark Nordic Club is about a 25 minute drive from downtown Kelowna. To get to Telemark, head west up Glenrosa Road, which is an easy nine kilometre paved drive from Highway 97. The club maintains over 60 kilometres of snowshoe trails and has a lodge which is a great place to bring your packed lunch or pick up a few snacks (such as their yummy cookies!) We enjoy the friendly atmosphere, which is a mix of families, singles, couples, serious athletes and those out for a fun family day. They have cubby holes along the back wall to stash your lunch and extra layers while you are out on the trails. If you need rentals, head downstairs to the rental centre.
Telemark’s many trails range from the Chalet Loop which is considered an easy trail taking about 20-30 minutes to their thirteen kilometre Crystal Mountain Trail for those who are in great shape and with lots of experience. Pick up a map at the office to see all the other trails for those looking for something in-between. Wanting to snowshoe with your dog? Check out their K9 trail!
Nickel Plate Nordic Centre is a 50 minute drive from Penticton, just past Apex Mountain Resort. Nickel Plate’s 25 kilometre trail system also includes a log cabin style lodge with cozy warm roaring fires to keep warm. I personally love their large deck, which is a great place to relax after snowshoeing on a sunny day. They have five trails that range in difficulty from novice to advanced, including “Claim Jump”, which is their dog-friendly trail. If you do not have snowshoes, they are available for rent; just bring your hiking or snow boots.
Another family favourite is the non-groomed section of the Trans Canada Trail between the Summerland Rodeo Grounds and Summerland. This recreational area is a great place for hiking and biking in the summer, but we especially love it in the winter for snowshoeing. You can pick up the trail across the road from the Prairie Valley Station of the Kettle Valley Steam Railway or alternately from the east end of the trail off Fenwick Road. The trail winds its way along the base of Conkle Mountain, named after pioneer William Conkle, who had a large cattle ranch in Prairie Valley. Conkle moved to Midway, BC in the early 1890s where he has both a creek and a lake named after him.
You may find remnants of the old wooden water flume line along the side of the trail and below is the Kettle Valley Railway. This section of the railway was built and services began in May 1915. It linked the West Coast with the Prairies, providing a valuable route for both passengers and locally grown fruit.
The trail is fairly flat with a hill at the east end and we have found the west end to be pretty icy at times as it winds down to the parking area on the road. For those more adventurous or wanting some up-hill exercise, you can head up the side trails on Conkle Mountain. These are very popular with mountain bikers in the warm weather but make a great workout with snowshoes on.
Whether you want groomed trails or a path through the woods, all three of these areas are great choices for snowshoeing in the Okanagan. Grab your gear and enjoy those crisp winter days!
For a list of the right snowshoeing gear and safety tips before heading out visit AdventureSmart
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Published: February 21, 2019
Carol loves being in the outdoors whether it is hiking, camping, kayaking or enjoying time at the lake. With a health background in nursing, she has written for many health-related journals and is also writing a historical non-fiction book about the Peach Valley area of Summerland where she lives. Along with writing, she and her family love camping. She grew up camping on Vancouver Island and has explored many parts of BC with her husband, three kids and their golden retriever. She and her newly-retired husband just upgraded to a newer trailer and are looking forward to more camping adventures throughout British Columbia.