The sun drenched landscape of British Columbia’s southern Okanagan Valley lends itself perfectly to scenic hiking trails, with a concentration around the community of Penticton.
This post showcases our favourite fast and fun Penticton hikes, all of which have beautiful viewpoints and are less than 10km in length. Think sparkling lakes, dramatic rock formations, bronzed grassland, gorgeous vineyards and more, showcased on short, easy and accessible trails.
Finding Penticton hiking trails
Use the map below to locate the trailheads of these Penticton hikes. The closest hike to downtown Penticton is only 1km away and the furthest 20km.
As we hopefully head towards a ‘new normal’ (see pandemic note below), I will be updating this post to feature other Penticton hiking trails. This post purposely focuses on easy, short trails.
Living in Penticton for over three years now, JR and I have explored the southern Okanagan pretty extensively and still continue to find new trails.
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KVR Trail: McCulloch Trestle
Length of hike: 5km
Difficulty: Very easy (mostly flat, wide trail)
Trailhead location: Vancouver Place, Penticton
Facilities: Benches, bins, flush washroom building en route (around 1.5km)
The decommissioned route of the Kettle Valley Railway (of which Penticton was once the headquarters) is now an incredible multi-use trail network.
Our go-to hike for visitors to Penticton, this section of the KVR is super close to downtown, is almost completely flat and offers wonderful views of Okanagan Lake, Okanagan Mountain Park, Summerland and Penticton.
This trail offers the chance to get close to the iconic Penticton sign and learn some KVR history along the way from the interpretive placards. The turnaround point is the impressive wooden McCulloch Trestle bridge, named after the Kettle Valley Railway’s chief engineer Andrew McCulloch.
Parking at the trailhead can be limited, so if you can, walk from downtown Penticton instead. The climb up Vancouver Hill is the perfect warm up!
Munson Mountain Viewpoint
Length of hike: 900m
Difficulty: Easy (short, uphill trail)
Trailhead location: Munson Mountain Road, Penticton
Facilities: Benches, shelter
OK, so this one is more of a short stroll but it’s still a must do. Munson Mountain is home to the giant Penticton sign and provides panoramic views of Okanagan Lake, Naramata Bench vineyards and Penticton itself. Originally built in 1937, the iconic landmark is actually larger than its Hollywood counterpart.
From the parking lot, it’s an easy walk to the first viewpoint. There’s a shelter and benches here. More adventurous visitors should continue up the hill to the summit of Munson Mountain itself. The views get remarkably better and you can even look down on the startling white Penticton letters.
Campbell Mountain Summit
Length of hike: 6km
Difficulty: Easy but does feature constant elevation gain (200m)
Trailhead location: Greyback Mountain Road, Penticton
Campbell Mountain is the peak that looms closest to downtown Penticton and is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a short workout combined with city panoramas.
The ascent to the 844m summit isn’t steep but it is steady. The rewards are seen quickly as the trees dissipate just beyond the cell phone towers at the top to reveal wide ranging views of towards Skaha Lake.
This is a popular mountain bike area so the easiest and safest route for hikers is the gravel road. It leads all the way to the cell phone towers at the top. From the main parking lot just beyond Campbell Mountain Landfill, walk across the cattle grid and look for the turn off on the right. A yellow gate signifies the start of the summit hike.
Campbell Mountain Traverse
Length of hike: Approx 6km (but free to turn around at any point)
Difficulty: Mostly flat path, but winding and narrow
Trailhead location: Reservoir Road, Penticton
This lovely trail offers something a little different in that it is not a summit climb nor part of the KVR. Instead, you’ll find a winding traverse along the side of Campbell Mountain with stunning views of the Upper Bench as well as both Skaha and Okanagan Lakes.
The trailhead is at 1550 Reservoir Road, at the end of a private driveway – look for the old farm equipment. Being that the small parking lot is on private land (thanks Dave), please be extra respectful to help keep this trailhead open.
To reach the trail, go through the gate and head left and then right at the junction. This path continues for about 2.5km along the base of the mountain. There are quite a few forks so be mindful of the route you take. When the path finally petered out, we decided to head up the hill and then took another parallel trail back.
Please note that this trail is a lot narrower than other paths mentioned here. It is also used by bikes, so keep alert!
KVR Trail: Little Tunnel
Length of hike: 8.8km
Difficulty: Very easy (flat, wide path)
Trailhead location: Smethurst Road, Naramata
Facilities: Benches, outhouse at trailhead and en route
My second favourite section of the KVR features an impressive railway tunnel and stunning Okanagan Lake views. Despite being the smallest of two tunnels in this area, this tunnel is so big that it’s actually visible from downtown Penticton if you know where to look! The rocky area just beyond the Little Tunnel is the perfect location to take a break.
Like the rest of the Kettle Valley Railway trail, the Little Tunnel route is exceptionally flat and easy to hike. It’s more shaded than some of the other sections and the higher elevation can mean it is a little cooler in the spring and autumn too.
Naramata Creek Falls
Length of hike: 2.5km
Difficulty: Easy with some harder sections (see details below)
Trailhead location: Just off Naramata Road, Naramata
Facilities: Outhouse at trailhead, benches
In an area where waterfalls are uncommon, the Naramata Creek Falls trail is particularly unique. The forested path follows the creek to a stunning multi-layered cascade. The cooling spray from the falls and shaded trail makes this an ideal hike for warmer days. This also means that snow can linger later here.
The approach to the falls starts as a fairly wide, well defined flat path and crosses several bridges. After 1km, the path splits and you can choose to take a dusty, narrow uphill trail to the left or stay along the creek. The latter involves crossing the water a couple of times, using rocks and logs to prevent wet feet. Plenty of viewpoints await, though be cautious of slippery moss and rock.
The trailhead for this hike can be easily missed. Slow down after passing the Naramata Fire Department and keep watch on the right. The road leading to the trailhead is in between the bus stop and the green ‘Creek Park’ sign.
Length of hike: 2km
Difficulty: Very easy (flat, wide trail)
Trailhead location: Just off Green Lake Road, Summerland
This relaxing short stroll follows Trout Creek as it heads west into the dramatic canyon of the same name. The hike starts on a wide, exposed path with views towards Giant’s Head Mountain (you can see the face from here!) and the relaxing noise of the creek.
About 500m in, the path heads into the trees and the canyon itself before abruptly finishing at the side of the creek. If you look carefully, it’s possible to spot the Trout Creek Trestle (below) upstream.
If you’d like to extend the walk, it’s possible to walk further along Trout Creek (from the parking area) towards Okanagan Lake, via Sun-Oka Beach Provincial Park. This adds approximately 2km return.
KVR Trail: Trout Creek Trestle
Length of hike: 6km
Difficulty: Very easy (flat, wide trail)
Trailhead location: Canyon View Road, Summerland
The highlight of this hike is the Trout Creek Trestle, a 73m high, 76m long deck truss bridge across a deep canyon. This was the highest structure on the Kettle Valley Railway. Follow the flat path beyond the impressive trestle to take in scenic views of Okanagan Lake, Okanagan Mountain Park and the Sun-Oka Beach peninsula.
This section of the KVR still features a working 1912 steam train during the summer and special events throughout the year (check the schedule here). No pedestrians are allowed on the bridge when the train crosses.
From the trestle, the KVR trail continues all the way back to Penticton. In reality then, you could walk as far as you like before turning back and returning to the trestle. We found the best views to be around the 2.5-3km mark.
Giant’s Head Mountain
Length of hike: 3.2km
Difficulty: Easy but does feature constant elevation gain (350m)
Trailhead location: Milne Road, Summerland
Facilities: Benches, bins, outhouses near summit
The short and steady climb to the top of Giant’s Head Mountain offers a satisfying workout as well as stunning views of Okanagan Lake, Summerland and across to the Naramata Bench. The surrounding scenery is a constant reward all the way to the 850m summit, where a Canadian flag, time capsule and numerous viewpoints await.
Hikers can choose to hike the paved road or numerous side trails to reach the top of Giant’s Head. The road is less adventurous but certainly easier and still just as scenic as the dirt hiking trails. The latter do offer a little more shade, however.
A local landmark, Giant’s Head Mountain is the remnant of an ancient volcano eruption. When approached from the southeast, there is a face-like profile visible on the side of the mountain – walking the Trout Creek Trail (above) is an easy way to see it.
KVR Trail: Kaleden to Okanagan Falls
Length of hike: 9.2km
Difficulty: Very easy (flat, wide path)
Trailhead location: Pioneer Park, Kaleden
Facilities: Benches, public washrooms at trailhead (in season)
Another wonderful section of the KVR Trail, this time staying low and close to the edge of Skaha Lake. Views abound across the water, highlighting the peculiarly shaped Peach Cliff alongside vineyards and other rocky outcrops. At the end, a long wooden trestle bridge leads to the community of Okanagan Falls.
Though I have noted above that the trailhead is Pioneer Park, the hike starts properly at the end of Ponderosa Ave. There is a dead end street with no parking and little turnaround space, so it’s best to walk from Pioneer Park.
Alternatively, you could start this hike in Okanagan Falls and walk to Kaleden and back. For a shorter walk, turn around at any time.
Length of hike: 5km
Difficulty: Easy to moderate, features uneven surfaces and elevation gain (200m)
Trailhead location: McLean Creek Road, Okanagan Falls
One of the most distinctive rock faces in the southern Okanagan is Peach Cliff, created from a violet history of volcanoes, earthquakes and glacial melt. As well as providing a backdrop for Okanagan Falls, Peach Cliff also offers hikers spectacular panoramas of Skaha Lake.
The trail approaches the top of the cliff from behind, meaning that the views are only revealed towards the end of the hike. Think of it as a reward for making the trip! An interesting side trail takes in an old quarry pit, usually sparkling green and turquoise in the sun.
The final section of the Peach Cliff trail becomes quite narrow and steep at times, but it is not necessarily to go to the top for the best views. For more info, check the below post.
Essential tips for hiking in Penticton
- When hiking during the summer months in Penticton, be prepared to start early (before 9am) to beat the heat
- Many of these Penticton hikes are very exposed, with little shade – bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat
- In my opinion, April, May, September and October are the best months to hike in Penticton. The temperatures are cooler, the majority of local trails are free of snow and there are less people around
- All of these Penticton hikes have cell phone signal but it’s still a smart idea to tell someone where you’re going as well as your expected return time
- Black bears, snakes, deer, bighorn sheep and other animals live on and around these trails. Take appropriate precautions, stay alert, make noise and keep your distance from wildlife
- Ticks are common in this region, with both deer and wood ticks being present. Cover up, avoid grassy areas where possible and check your clothing (and body) after hiking
- Poison ivy can be found on some of these Penticton hikes – make sure you know how to identify it
- Unless posted otherwise at the trailhead, leashed dogs are allowed on these trails. Please be careful to pick up after your dog
- Remember to Leave No Trace of your visit on any these beautiful Penticton hikes. This means staying on trail at all times and taking care to pack out everything you bring in (including trash)
Looking to book a stay in Penticton?
Penticton Lakeside Resort – Awesome lakefront location on north side of town, within walking distance to beach, shops, entertainment, restaurants, trails
E’Laysa Guesthouse and Vineyard Retreat – Gorgeous property on the Naramata Bench, very close to the KVR Trail. A full breakfast is included with every stay
Casa Grande Inn – Highly rated B&B situated across from Okanagan Lake with large outdoor patio