Flying into Kelowna, I couldn’t contain my excitement as I saw white peaks through the clouds and I knew I was almost in the mountains. Coming from Eastern Ontario, where it’s fairly flat, the change in elevation and scenery was a breath of fresh air and brought on the anticipation of new places to discover and adventure. This was my first trip out west in the winter months to experience my first big snowboarding trip!
Last year I was unable to make it out due to a knee injury but this year I was determined to travel out west to see friends and to hit up the world renown slopes of British Columbia. To say the least, it did not disappoint. The week was filled with fun times laughing with friends and a lot of fresh powdery snow that we never seem to get back home. A week was more than enough time to take in all the views that Kelowna had to offer and maybe… just maybe… next year, I’ll be ready to hit up other famous mountains. Once you get the taste of that fresh powder you just can’t wait to go back.
Read on for some great spots to check out if you’re ever in Kelowna, British Columbia!
- Myra Canyon/Trestles: An old railway turned hiking trail, this trail is 6km one way, a full 12km loop, but with plenty of photo stopping trestles scattered throughout. You can definitely walk a smaller portion to see some awesome outlook points. We hiked 3km from the Myra Station entry and passed by half a dozen trestles and a tunnel too. The trail head can be found at the end of the parking lot on the right. It’s a fairly flat trail, popular for locals taking their dogs on a walk. I would not travel too far off of the path as you well quickly find yourself in knee deep snow. The most impressive trestles could be seen across the canyon and are marked as #6 and #7, but due to our time constraints we didn’t make it that far. In the summer, this trail is open to bikers which would definitely make the 12km loop an easy feat.
- Crawford Falls: An unsuspecting location for a hike off of a neighbourhood street. This is a fun and quick hike that will allow you to see two waterfalls. This hike was quite slippery with a lot of downhill and uphill terrain; difficult if you do not have the appropriate shoes when hiking in the winter or after a rainy day. I definitely recommend making the trek to the second waterfall as it is much more impressive and just stunningly beautiful. I wish we were able to see both waterfalls in a more frozen state, but it was pretty nonetheless. I could see this being a popular summer location for picnics by the water.
- Knox Mountain: Not quite a hike, probably more like a casual walk but popular among the locals for its proximity near downtown Kelowna. Similar to Mont Royal in Montreal, this hill allows you to gain a beautiful outlook of the city of Kelowna. We did the Apex Trail which led us to a pavilion lookout. In the summer, the roads are open so if you don’t feel like having burning calf muscles, you are more than welcome to drive up to see the lookout point. But hey, challenge yourself and get some fresh air!
This was the main reason why I went to Kelowna. Many of you may be wondering oh why not Whistler? Or Fernie? Maybe even Revelstoke? Well, for one, my dear friend was working at this resort but also I don’t think my intermediate snowboarding skills were ready to take full advantage of some of the other famous hills. Big White is known for being an all around great hill that offers routes for all levels and experiences. I loved the rolling blues and greens which allowed me to practice my carving skills. But the best part was probably the two feet of fresh powder the hill accumulated while we were there, offering up the softest pillow-y falls when wiping out from a nasty edge catch. That Okanagan powder is like nothing else and I already dread next local season back home where everything is hard packed snow and ice. I can see why people love it out west when you get insane snowfalls, mild temperatures and just great conditions all around. Big White gets the most snow in late March so don’t be afraid to book a trip near seasons end as there is always more than enough snow left on these mountains.
Some of my favourite runs were from the Bullet Chairlift, offering up tonnes of off-trail boarding between trees; the Ogopogo run is a real fun one as you try to make a clean run through the trees hitting all parts of a dragon. Honestly, I can’t wait until next winter rolls around to head back out west! Canada truly has some of the best mountains and Big White is one of them!
Food & Wine:
We did a bit of food exploration while in Kelowna and here are some places that are worth checking out! After a hard days work pushing that powdery snow or hiking up a mountain, one can definitely work up an appetite!
- Salted Brick: An awesome local place that offers up house cured meats and local cheeses. I especially enjoyed their warm dates with blue cheese!
- Wasabi Izakaya: Another awesome local spot for a cheap warm meal after a day on the hills. The kaarage chicken ramen is to die for! Extra cripsy and packed with flavour, it makes the ramen super filling and a perfect meal after a day on the hills.
- Train Station Pub: a ten minute walk from the downtown core of Kelowna, this place has amazing burger options! Live music and a great place to just hang out with friends.
- Ice Wine: Kelowna is well known for their wineries and before we left we made sure to hit up a few local spots to try out some famous wines and iced wines. There are so many wineries to try in Kelowna, but if you are in search of one with an awesome view, I recommend going to Volcanic Hills Estate Winery.
And that wraps up my one week trip in Kelowna, British Columbia. If there are any spots that are your favorites be sure to leave them down below because I would love to check them out next time I’m in that area!