#805 Hiking the Okanagan Valley

Popular Day Hikes: Northern Okanagan, Vernon Shuswap Lumby
by Gerry Shea

Victoria: Rocky Mountain Books, 2019 (revised and updated; first published 2013)
$20.00 / 9781771602457

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Popular Day Hikes: South-Central Okanagan, Kelowna Penticton Oliver
by Gerry Shea

Victoria: Rocky Mountain Books, 2019 (revised and updated; first published 2015)
$20.00 / 9781771602778

Both books reviewed by Ritchie Leslie

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Both of these hiking books by Barry Shea, Popular Day Hikes: Northern Okanagan and Popular Day Hikes: South-Central Okanagan, offer a good range of well and lesser-known hikes in their respective regions of the Okanagan Valley. The hikes range in difficulty from easy strolls of a couple of hours accessible from well-travelled roads to more significant hikes that would take most of a day and require more advanced hiking and navigation skills. Most of the hikes are at the easy to intermediate end of things.

These slim and attractive volumes will easily slip into a backpack, but they are too big to fit in a pocket. With lots of colour illustrations they give an excellent idea of what you will see and experience along each hike. They’re easy to follow, consistently laid out, and a great introduction to the easier hikes in the region.

Looking north up Okanagan Lake along the trail to Paul’s Tomb, from the South-Central Okanagan volume

There’s also some brief coverage of what to wear and take along, although beginner hikers should visit some of the excellent material on the web from sources like MEC or REI, who also both carry excellent “how to” videos.

If you’re a newcomer to the Okanagan, looking for a good range of shorter hikes for evening or half day outings, or just interested in getting started in hiking, then these are excellent additions to your bookshelf.

Beginner hikers and families with younger children will find a great range of options with many shorter hikes of under 5 km included. The South-Central Okanagan volume is particularly strong in that regard. If you pick one of the Knox Mountain hikes you can even find a beach, ice cream, or draught beer within five minutes’ drive of the trailhead. At the other end of the scale, hikes in the Northern Okanagan volume such as Enderby Cliffs and Shorts Creek Canyon Rim are much more challenging.

In Stephens Coyote Ridge Regional Park, from the the South-Central Okanagan volume
Gerry Shea

Like any guidebooks, these have some limitations. “One size fits all” never quite works in the world of clothing or in the world of guidebooks. The maps are not sufficiently detailed for navigation on the more advanced/remote hikes. Readers must rely on their own judgement when they are in more remote or challenging territory that requires the possession of an appropriate map and compass or hiking GPS, and the knowledge of how to use them.

Despite the recent publication date, the books contain at least one hike – the Shorts Creek Canyon Rim in the North Okanagan volume — that has been inaccessible for several years due to a catastrophic backroad washout. For the hikes accessed by forest service roads there is no discussion of the quality of the road. These vary from something you can manage easily in a small SUV right up to eroded, steep, and twisty roads that demand a 4WD pickup or similar. Finally, the books lack contact information for local hiking clubs and Rec (Recreation) Sites and Trails BC, which can be a great source of information.

Again, this underscores the conclusion that these are super “first timer” guides to popular day hikes in the Okanagan Valley that may, however, disappoint avid or experienced trekkers — who typically will head for more challenging terrain.

In Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park looking west, from the Northern Okanagan volume

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Now semi-retired, Ritchie Leslie of Vernon spent his entire career in the information technology industry and has hiked all his life as work and family permitted. He got hooked on the outdoors working on a dairy farm in Scotland as a teenager and was introduced to hiking at his enlightened Scottish high school in the early 1970s, which included hillwalking in its list of approved sports. He loves the easy access to varied terrain close to his home in Vernon as well as further afield in western Canada and the northwest United States. Ritchie is past president of a local hiking and cycling club based in Vernon.

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The Ormsby Review. More Books. More Reviews. More Often.

Publisher and Editor: Richard Mackie

The Ormsby Review is a journal service for in-depth coverage of B.C. books and authors. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Robin Fisher, Cole Harris, Wade Davis, Hugh Johnston, Patricia Roy, David Stouck, and Graeme Wynn. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Provincial Government Patron since September 2018: Creative BC

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Echo Lake from Eagle Crest Cliffs, from the Northern Okanagan volume
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