Lake Country’s Spion Kop hiking trails are now connected to the Pelmewash Parkway as the well known trail system links to the old highway 97 through Lake Country with a new trail head next to Wood Lake.
The addition of the connector trails brings the total to 17 kilometres of trail head on Spion Kop, the mountain whose name means look-out hill that has become a jewel of trails accessible to everyone in the Central Okanagan.
Several new connector trails make for a better loop of the mountain with a variety of options for the hiker, allowing for a number of combinations of hikes that range from 1.5 to 4.5 hours or more.
Always well known to Lake Country enthusiasts, the trails have grown in popularity as more and more hikers from all across the Okanagan take in all they have to offer.
“Spion Kop is becoming very well known as a hiker’s paradise,” said Elisabeth Dahnert of the group Walk Around Lake Country (WALC), which has been putting hours of trail grooming into the Spion Kop. “We’ve met large groups of hikers from West Kelowna, Vernon and Kelowna. For us in Lake Country, it is our back yard and on any hike up there you will find families with little children, young adults, people walking dogs, trail runners, and just regular hikers. Our trail maps are scooped up from the map boxes almost as fast as we print them.”
The new addition of the trails to Pelmewash Parkway allow for hikers to have an easy walk-out that will link to what the group hopes is eventually another park, along the old highway. The new connectors also add to the summit trail on Spion Kop, which now has an elevation gain of 485 metres, making it a challenge similar (about half the elevation gain) as the famous Grouse Grind in North Vancouver, which has 850 metres of elevation change.
The WALC group has made many advancements on the trails. The trails are flagged and marked and a trail guide is published and available. They are also in the process of adding the trails into Google maps (type in key words Spion Kop Hiking Trails).
Spion Kop features trails on 350 hectares of crown land meaning hikers exist with other users of the land such as those using motorized vehicles such as ATV’s. With all of the care and attention the hiking group has put in on Spion Kop’s trails, WALC asks that those using ATV’s stay off the groomed trails meant for hiking.
“The marked trails have been developed by volunteers of WALC for hikers to enjoy,” said WALK member Dev Fraser. “Because of safety concerns, we ask all motorized vehicles to please not use these trails. Your support and cooperation is greatly appreciated.”
So as the summer season arrives and people get out more and more, there is a great option for hiking in Lake Country and across the region. Expanded trails, more signage, trail maps and a link to Pelmewash Parkway has Spion Kop becoming a true jewel of the area.
“WALC believes that Spion Kop could be as important to Lake Country as Stanley Park is to Vancouver, said Dahnert. “This is our big picture thinking within the context of District of Lake Country’s OCP. We have flagged and marked trails, now published in a well received trail map, and thus far have achieved our visions of connecting trails through the underpasses under the new Highway 97, connecting us to what we hope one day will be a new park along Pelmewash Parkway.”