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Hiking Giant’s Head Mountain, Summerland, British Columbia

Giant’s Head Mountain is the ideal destination for a quick hike in the southern Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada.

Not only super easy to access, there’s a range of interconnecting hiking trails so you can ‘choose your own adventure’ to reach the summit!

Bench looking out over elevated view of Summerland township with Okanagan Lake and snow capped mountains in background on Giant's Head Mountain Roadway trail
Looking out over Summerland from the Giant’s Head Mountain Roadway trail

Hiking at Giant’s Head offers the chance to see expansive views of the local area as well as Naramata, Penticton and the mountains beyond, no matter what time of day or season you visit.

Read on for our experience plus all the details you need to hike Giant’s Head Mountain in Summerland yourself. Updated 2021

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View of lookout area at Giant's Head Mountain Summit, with fencing in front of valley views
The Giant’s Head Mountain summit area

Backcountry necessities

View from Friendly Giant Trail on Giant's Head Mountain, lookign own to the town of Summerland, with Rattlesnake Mountain on left, Okanagan Lake on the right with the rugged peaks of Okanagan Mountain Park in the background
Hiking the Friendly Giant Trail

About Giant’s Head Mountain

Giant’s Head is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive peaks in the southern Okanagan region.

When approaching from the southeast, this 850m extinct volcano does indeed look like the profile of a very large man looming over the nearby town of Summerland.

One of my favourite aspects of Giant’s Head is that you don’t have to be a keen hiker to summit it. There is a narrow paved road leading almost all the way to the top of Giant’s Head, open from late spring to early autumn.

Paved path leading slightly uphill, lined with trees and dry ground
Starting the Giant’s Head Mountain Roadway trail

The road lessens the natural feel but it makes Giant’s Head a very inclusive destination for family groups.

Those wanting a longer hike can start from the base parking lot (550m elevation) and walk on the road or follow one of the many trails to the summit instead.

Sunset view of southern views from Giant's Head Mountain with vineyards and houses below, with Okanagan Lake in background and hills beyond
Looking south from the Giant’s Head Mountain summit

Giant’s Head Mountain trails

Hikers have a choice of four routes to ascend Giant’s Head Mountain:

  • The Grind Trail – 1.9km, 275m elevation gain, difficult rating
  • East Ridge Trail – 3km, 335m elevation gain, difficult rating
  • Friendly Giant Trail – 1.6km, 135m elevation gain, moderate rating
  • Roadway (paved) – 2.6km, 240m elevation gain, moderate rating

The ratings given above are those noted on the official signage in the parking lot. In my personal experience, I find these ratings on the cautious side.

Close up of two hiking trail signs on Giant's Head Mountain - East Ridge on yellow rectangle and Friendly Giant on blue rectangle
The trail signage on Giant’s Head Mountain is very clear and colourful

Please note that the Roadway and Friendly Giant Trail do not lead all the way to the summit – there’s another 500m and 50m elevation gain needed to reach the top.

There’s an additional trail accessible from the two parking lots near the top of Giant’s Head:

  • Upper Loop – 0.9km, 15m elevation gain, easy
Looking down on the town of Summerland with houses and condo buildings, with Okanagan Lake and mountains visible in the background
The views on the Giant’s Head Mountain Roadway trail appear quickly

Climbing Giant’s Head Mountain

From the parking lot, follow the paved Roadway. The other trails splinter off gradually – look for the colourful signage and occasional trail maps.

Being that the main parking lot is already at around 550m, spectacular views over Summerland and the lake appear pretty quickly.

Connection trails make it possible to hike one trail and then switch to another later. This interconnected trail system offers so many different hiking possibilities!

On our most recent hike, we stayed on the Roadway for 1.4km and then moved to the Friendly Giant Trail. At a later junction, we moved onto the East Ridge Trail and then followed this route all the way to the top. The views of Okanagan Lake were spectacular!

View of bench in font of scenic lake and mountain views on the Giants Head Mountain trail
Gaining elevation on the Giant’s Head Mountain Roadway trail

The quickest route to the summit of Giant’s Head Mountain

If you’re looking to reach the summit of Giant’s Head in the quickest and easiest way, choose the paved Roadway route (keep an eye out for traffic!)

The paved Roadway first swings out east towards Okanagan Lake before returning to the western side of the mountain for the rest of the journey.

It is soon possible to see large mountain summits in the distance, including Brent Mountain in the Apex Ski Resort area. Snow is usually visible on these peaks from November to April. 

Another perspective seen from this direction is the hidden agricultural and industrial areas of Summerland. While it may not be the prettiest of places, the backdrop certainly helps matters!

It is possible to make out the route of the Kettle Valley Railway mid-way through the Roadway hike. If you manage to time it right in the summer (and on special event days), you may even be able to spot the heritage train operating. 

Looking down on large industrial buildings and packing houses surrounded by rolling hills
Looking down on the industrial area of Summerland, on the western side of Giant’s Head Mountain

Arriving at the summit

A small parking lot signifies that the top of Giant’s Head isn’t too far away. The Friendly Giant Trail and the paved Roadway both terminate here.

There are two main ways to reach the summit from here – via the East Ridge Trail or the Grind Trail. I’d recommend hiking them both, creating a loop route.

A Canadian flag, usually waving in the wind, waits at the top. It sits behind a large boulder, mounted on concrete.

View of rock on concrete base. with Canadian flag in background at Giant's Head Mountain summit
The time capsule at the summit of Giant’s Head Mountain

Not only a great place to sit and admire the views, there is a time capsule buried underneath the summit boulder. Placed at the summit for Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967 (Giant’s Head Park was created the same year), it will next be opened in 2067.

Beyond the summit flag, there’s a large fenced viewing area. It’s still a good idea to be careful near the edge, however, since it’s a very long way down! The wind can pick up at the edge too. 

No matter which way you look from the Giant’s Head Mountain summit, there is something special to see.

Check out the patchwork of vineyards across the water on the beautiful Naramata Bench, lined by the sparkling waters of Okanagan Lake. 

Summit views towards the industrial side of Summerland, with rolling hills, snow topped mountains and Gemma standing at a fenced viewpoint
Checking out the views west from the Giant’s Head Mountain summit near Summerland

Giant’s Head Mountain, Summerland: Essential details

  • The Giant’s Head Mountain trailhead is easily and quickly accessible via Highway 97. Turn off at the Prairie Valley intersection (the one with Tim Hortons) in Summerland, make a left soon after on Atkinson, another left on Giant’s Head Road and then finally a right on Milne Rd
  • The parking lot for the hike is found after 500m on the left. Parking is free. There is space for around 15-20 vehicles
  • Giant’s Head is open 8am to 9pm, with the gate closed at 9pm
  • Two small parking areas are available at the top, with space for about 6-8 vehicles. I wouldn’t recommend driving a RV up. From the summit parking lot, it is a quick hike (500m) on a dirt trail to the Giant’s Head summit
  • A number of benches can be found on the way to the top if you need a break. There’s an outhouse in the upper parking lot close to the summit
  • A round trip from the lower parking lot takes around 2-3 hours, depending on your fitness, chosen trail and how much time you spend admiring the views at the top!
  • Dogs are welcome on the designated trails, but must be on a leash
  • Mountain bikes are restricted to the Roadway route and uphill on the East Ridge Trail only
A rock sign with carved 'Giant's Head Mountain Park'
This sign greets you to the lower parking lot at Giant’s Head Mountain

Looking to book a stay in Summerland?

Summerland Waterfront Resort and Spa – Amazing location

Rosedale Motel – Good value

Dogwood Bed and Breakfast – Highly rated on Booking.com

Sunset view from Giant's Head Mountain hiking trail looking down on trees and farms beyond, with Rattlesnake Mountain and Okanagan Lake in the background. The blue sky is tinged with orange underneath the clouds
Sunset on Giant’s Head Mountain, Summerland

Check out these other awesome hiking trails in the southern Okanagan area:

McIntyre Bluff, Oliver

Peach Cliff, Okanagan Falls

Kettle Valley Rail Trail, Penticton

Myra Canyon Railway Trestles, Kelowna

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Giant's Head Mountain is the ideal destination for a quick hike in the southern Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada. Not only super easy to access, there's a range of interconnecting hiking trails so you can 'choose your own adventure' to reach the summit! Click here to discover everything you need to know about hiking Giant's Head Mountain. offtracktravel.ca

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