Among the Canadian provinces British Columbia puts up a good argument when it comes to the greatest amount of protected land area dedicated to provincial or national parks. Located in the BC interior with varied terrain, spectacular overlooks, and diverse natural ecosystems, Vernon, British Columbia is a popular haven for hiking and nature enthusiasts worldwide. Adding to the appeal of the area, the climate in Vernon is pretty temperate year round with great sun exposure in the summer months, so most hikers are treated to good weather. To help you maximize your trip to the BC interior, we've compiled a list of the best hiking spots in the Vernon area:
Polson is a local favourite. Located right in the middle of Vernon, it's a gathering place for the community. A large space, Polson Park is home to the Vernon Lawn Bowling Club, Heritage Hall, and a beautiful historic clock that was established in 1958. The park's land was donated to the community in 1908, and the space has been dedicated to leisure and community building ever since; the use of the park today makes for a great legacy for Samuel Polson, the man who donated the land. In terms of leisure, the park is one of the best places in Vernon for horticulture—visitors eager for some nature and activity should walk through the park and take in both the Japanese garden, and the centennial Rose garden.
In comparison to Polson Park, Silver Star Provincial Park could not be more different. Not only is it more oriented to tourists, it is located to the northeast rather than the easy access in the centre of town enjoyed by Polson. While the Silver Star name is more commonly associated with the popular ski resort on the same mountain, the provincial park is actually public-access for anyone wishing to use the land for non-commercial ventures. The park occupies 5500 mountainous hectares and has a number of public-use trails, including several that are free for day use. Mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, and dog walking are popular activities on the free summertime trails.
Allan Brooks Nature Centre
For those looking to experience a little bit more of the natural ecosystem in Vernon as well as stunning and unique views, the Allan Brooks Nature Centre is undoubtedly the place to go. Located atop a grassy knoll, it provides the perfect vantage point on a clear day with sightlines stretching to the three lakes in the area (Kalamalka, Lake Okanagan, and Swan Lake). It also has exhibits on the birds of the region (as well as spectacular bird watching opportunities), the grasslands habitat and the flora and fauna that reside there, as well as a self-guided hiking trail. If you missed the opening hours fear not, the Nature Centre after dark is one of the best places in the Okanagan to go stargazing with the least amount of light pollution.
The Falls hike is a popular hidden gem in the area, though it is a good idea to check before you go—this trail is often closed when the water level is too high for safe activities. In recent years, due to higher-than-average snowpack levels and rainy springs, the BX Creek becomes too fast moving and breaches the banks, rendering hiking impossible. In late summer you might have more luck however, and on a clear, sunny day, the sun sparkles off the water like diamonds. Many people see BX falls as the best hiking spot in Vernon.
Any of these hiking and outdoor activities will help you discover Vernon!