Giant’s Head Mountain provides one of our favourite quick hikes (3.2km return) in the southern Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada.
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.
The Giant’s Head hike offers 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 2020
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The Giant’s Head Mountain trail
The Giant’s Head Mountain hike is a fairly straightforward 1.6km (3.2km return) ascent to the top with some steeper sections near the end.
There is a narrow paved road leading almost all the way to the summit (open in summer only). Hikers starting from the base parking lot can either walk on the road or follow the many trails to the top. The latter offer a shortcut around several long switchbacks.
The paved road first swings out east towards Okanagan Lake before following the western side of the mountain for the rest of the route.
Gorgeous views abound on Giant’s Head Mountain
Being that the main parking lot is already at around 500m, spectacular views over Summerland and the lake appear pretty quickly. As the trail heads west, it is soon possible to see large mountain summits in the distance. Snow is usually visible on the 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 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.
Arriving at the summit
A small parking lot signifies that the top of Giant’s Head isn’t too far away. The path becomes steep for a short time and soon you can spot a Canadian flag waving in the wind. A large boulder mounted on concrete greets hikers to the summit.
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 be opened after another hundred years.
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.
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
- 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 on a dirt switchback trail to the top
- A number of benches can be found on the way to the top if you need a break
- A round trip from the lower parking lot takes around 1.5-2 hours, depending on your fitness and how much time you spend admiring the views at the top!
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