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Fall Adventures in BC’s Okanagan, Shuswap,
and Boundary Country

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With numerous lakes for paddling and mountains laced with hiking and cycling trails, it’s easy to access the outdoors in the Okanagan Valley and beyond. Once the summer tourists pack up their beach umbrellas and bicycles to head home, you’ll have those pristine lakeshores and scenic paths all to yourself (or your bubble group).

This fall’s travel means reconnecting with loved ones and rediscovering pockets of the province in safe and respectful ways, which is easy to do in BC’s wide-open spaces. And once you return to civilization, rest assured the hotels, lodges, restaurants, and attractions that round out your vacation have implemented and are following safety measures designed with your health as a top priority. With that in mind, here are some ideas for fall adventures.

Sicamous Lookout | @tonywankenobi

Hike to Sicamous Lookout

Once the house boaters wrap up the season after September’s Labour Day long weekend, there’s a slower pace in Sicamous, with fewer faces around town and on local trails. It’s a good time to tackle the one-kilometre hike (after a 11-km bumpy drive on a forestry road) to Sicamous Lookout, which has the best view in the north Okanagan. From the iconic wooden platform—used as a take-off point for hang gliders—you’ll see both Mara and Shuswap lakes shimmering to the southwest, with the town of Sicamous below.

Fall is also an ideal time to mountain bike the Larch Hills Traverse, a 38-km cross-country single-track trail between Sicamous and Salmon Arm that rolls past rock gardens and lake viewpoints, and through forests of larch trees that turn bright gold in October before dropping their needles. Base yourself at the Anchor Riverfront Motel, right on the Eagle River. The property has clean, comfortable rooms plus RV spots along the river’s edge.

Cycle the New Okanagan Rail Trail

What was once a railway line between Kelowna and Vernon is now the Okanagan Rail Trail, a 50+-km recreation pathway that connects the region’s two largest cities. What makes this accessible, mostly flat trail special is its variety—it passes three beautiful lakes, fruit stands and food stops, plenty of picnic tables, and numerous quiet beaches as it winds its way through the valley.

The multi-use trail is open to on-foot adventurers, but the best way to explore it is on a bicycle. Families love the Wood Lake Loop, a 17-km circuit that diverges from the Okanagan Rail Trail at the Oyama isthmus to circle back along a paved path on the lake’s west side. Pull off for a burger and fries at the OKF Grill in Oyama and then dip your toes in the lake, or stop to refuel with fresh produce at Gatzke Orchards.

Turn your day trip into several days’ exploration with a stay at Oyama Lake Eco Lodge, a 30-minute drive from Oyama. Here, 15 rustic cabins overlook a gorgeous alpine lake dotted with 27 coniferous-covered islands. Go full Canadian and paddle between them on a rental canoe while fishing for trout in the stocked water.

Get off the Beaten Path in Kelowna

Autumn is one of the city’s best seasons for hiking. The days are often clear and sunny, the fall colours are spectacular, and the mild temperatures mean you can hit the nearby trails any time of day. Head into Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park for a quick loop with lake views, or hike to the top of Knox Mountain, close to downtown, for the spectacular vista over the lake and city.

If you’re looking for something more off the beaten path, drive up past Kettle Valley in south Kelowna to the Johns Family Nature Conservancy where nearly five kilometres of well-maintained interpretive trails await, with signs that explain the region’s history, trees, and animals. The routes are fairly easy with minimal elevation gain (so, great for kids), but what they lack in challenge they make up for in sights and scenery—the main Crags Trail parallels a rocky escarpment popular among climbers, and there are multiple spots where you can gaze up the length of Okanagan Lake.

After your hike, unwind in one of Kelowna’s lakeside resorts. At the Delta Grand Okanagan it’s all about location, right downtown and within walking distance of Knox Mountain. Also on the lakeshore, Manteo, at the Eldorado Resort, offers large suites and lakefront villas, and is close to the trendy Pandosy district and popular local beaches.

E-Bike the Kettle Valley Rail Trail

Most recreational cyclists are familiar with Myra Canyon, where a decommissioned rail trail crosses 18 historic train trestles and goes through two tunnels as it arcs around a steep canyon high above Kelowna. But that same pathway—part of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail—continues south toward Penticton, passing by the historic Chute Lake Lodge halfway between Myra Canyon and Naramata.

The lodge features eight cozy cabins, plus comfortable glamping tents and yurts, and makes a great base from which to explore the rest of the KVR. Rent an electric bike from the lodge and zoom along the wide, flat, multi-use trail, stopping to admire the larch trees that turn gold in October, and the pretty views of Okanagan Lake far below.

To capture the last vibes of summer, the nearby village of Naramata has a beach-town feel, with lakefront accommodations to match. The recently re-opened Naramata Inn offers 12 boutique rooms and quite possibly the region’s best farm-to-table restaurant, led by Chef Ned Bell. For a more family-camp feel, check out the Sandy Beach Lodge & Resort, with tennis courts, a heated pool, and adorable cottages with beach access.

Explore Desert Trails in Osoyoos

Osoyoos is located in Canada’s only true desert, so the cooler days of fall are a perfect time to visit. Walk the 1.5-km footpath at the Osoyoos Desert Centre to learn about desert life in a fragile ecosystem where prickly pear cactus and aromatic sagebrush grow in a landscape populated by coyotes, rattlesnakes, and even scorpions. Add a cultural element to your explorations at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, where hillside trails lead to a reconstructed pit house and sweat lodge that help tell the story of the local Osoyoos Indian Band.

The cultural centre is adjacent to Spirit Ridge Resort, with self-contained condos, suites, and villas that feature full kitchens. If you don’t feel like cooking, make a reservation at the resort’s new Indigenous-inspired restaurant, The Bear, The Fish, The Root and The Berry. You can also walk through picturesque vineyards down to Osoyoos Lake, or pop in to Indigenous-owned and -operated Nk’Mip Cellars to sample award-winning wines.

Biking on a trestle bridge on the Kettle Valley Trail in Christina Lake | Hubert Kang

Hike, Pedal, or Paddle in Boundary Country

With fir- and cedar-robed mountains, one of BC’s warmest lakes, and miles of historic rail trails, Boundary Country (the region close to the U.S. “boundary” between the Okanagan and the Kootenays,) attracts travellers looking for adventures that veer off the usual routes. Base yourself in Christina Lake, and come equipped with bicycles and hiking boots.

Start with a 15-minute hike through the pine-scented forest to Cascade Falls, where a torrent of water spills over a rocky drop and churns through a gorge. The trailhead is just three kilometres from the lake, which is popular in the summer for water sports and secluded beaches. It’s quieter in the fall and more serene to paddle on the clear water, or to hike the trails in nearby Gladstone Provincial Park.

For something different, Owl Mountain Ranch leads trail rides with your bubble group (max five riders) to the Cascade Falls viewpoint or along the Kettle River. Everything is within a reasonable distance from the Christina Lake Motel, which has newly renovated, modern rooms, plus RV hookups and boat parking.

Header image: Kettle Valley Rail Trail | Kari Medig

Cabins & Cottages, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Oyama Lake Eco Lodge

Oyama Lake Eco Lodge is situated on a volcanic lake with 27 islands, 15 cabin rentals, as well as a few camping sites. Stay the night or come up...

Phone: (250) 862-1013

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Hotels

Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort

Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort is fresh from extensive renovations to all 262 guestrooms in the North and South Tower. Our...

Phone: (250) 763-4500

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Hotels

Manteo Resort Waterfront Hotel & Villas

Eldorado Resort is located Kelowna, British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley Canadas award-winning wine region. Eldorado Resort is Kelownas #1...

Phone: (250) 860-1031

View Listing

Cabins & Cottages

Chute Lake Lodge

Inspired by wanderlust and adventure we are a unique experience for people who love the outdoors. Nestled in the mountains above the Naramata...

View Listing

Spas & Wellness, Hotels

Naramata Inn

Were a really great restaurant. With rooms. We found the best of the Okanagans natural bounty and put it all in one place. Youre going to like it...

Phone: (250) 496-6808

View Listing

Attractions

Desert Centre

The Osoyoos Desert Centre is a 67 acre nature interpretive facility where visitors can learn about desert ecology, habitat restoration and...

Phone: (877) 899-0897

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Attractions, Indigenous Culture, Accessibility

Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre

The Nkmip Desert Cultural Centre is a 9,000 square-foot interpretive centre that exhibits 2 films, the Inkameep Day School Art Collection, indoor...

Phone: (250) 495-7901

View Listing

Fishing, Hiking, Beaches & Lakes, Parks & Wilderness Areas

Christina Lake Provincial Park

Facilities: Public beach, day-use picnic area, flush toilets, change house. Location: Off Hwy 3, in the town of Christina Lake. Christina Lake has...

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Parks & Wilderness Areas, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Gladstone Provincial Park (including Texas Creek Campground)

Facilities: Texas Creek Campground - 63 campsites, showers, flush toilets, boat launch. Marine Sites - 8 rustic sites accessible by boat only....

Phone: (250) 545-1560

View Listing

Cabins & Cottages, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Oyama Lake Eco Lodge

Oyama Lake Eco Lodge is situated on a volcanic lake with 27 islands, 15 cabin rentals, as well as a few camping sites. Stay the night or come up...

Phone: (250) 862-1013

View Listing

Hotels

Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort

Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort is fresh from extensive renovations to all 262 guestrooms in the North and South Tower. Our...

Phone: (250) 763-4500

View Listing

Hotels

Manteo Resort Waterfront Hotel & Villas

Eldorado Resort is located Kelowna, British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley Canadas award-winning wine region. Eldorado Resort is Kelownas #1...

Phone: (250) 860-1031

View Listing

Cabins & Cottages

Chute Lake Lodge

Inspired by wanderlust and adventure we are a unique experience for people who love the outdoors. Nestled in the mountains above the Naramata...

View Listing

Spas & Wellness, Hotels

Naramata Inn

Were a really great restaurant. With rooms. We found the best of the Okanagans natural bounty and put it all in one place. Youre going to like it...

Phone: (250) 496-6808

View Listing

Attractions

Desert Centre

The Osoyoos Desert Centre is a 67 acre nature interpretive facility where visitors can learn about desert ecology, habitat restoration and...

Phone: (877) 899-0897

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Attractions, Indigenous Culture, Accessibility

Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre

The Nkmip Desert Cultural Centre is a 9,000 square-foot interpretive centre that exhibits 2 films, the Inkameep Day School Art Collection, indoor...

Phone: (250) 495-7901

View Listing

Fishing, Hiking, Beaches & Lakes, Parks & Wilderness Areas

Christina Lake Provincial Park

Facilities: Public beach, day-use picnic area, flush toilets, change house. Location: Off Hwy 3, in the town of Christina Lake. Christina Lake has...

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Gladstone Provincial Park (including Texas Creek Campground)

Facilities: Texas Creek Campground - 63 campsites, showers, flush toilets, boat launch. Marine Sites - 8 rustic sites accessible by boat only....

Phone: (250) 545-1560

View Listing

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WRITTEN BY: Lisa Kadane

From: Kelowna
Lisa Kadane is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about travel, outdoor adventure, food and cocktails for over two decades. Though she has travelled to over 50 countries, Lisa can’t get enough of Canada and loves exploring the mountains, lakes, and valleys near her home in Kelowna. She writes about BC for a variety of print and online publications including CNN Travel, WestJet Magazine, the Vancouver Sun, and Family Fun Canada. She is also a writer and editor for Vancouver-based travel company Fresh Tracks Canada. When not hiking or skiing in the Okanagan, you’ll find Lisa hanging out with her husband, two school-age kids, and Brittany spaniel.

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