We purposefully staged my birthday bike trip itinerary so we would have some down time in between longer days of riding. In addition, we built in an entire day to explore Penticton because I wanted to experience Okanogan Valley’s wine country as part of my birthday celebration.
We had a wonderful day in Penticton and could easily have spent several more days in the surrounding vineyards and traveling along Okanogan Lake up to Kelowna. In fact, it seems like we see ads about visiting Kelowna all of the time now—some online marketer is trying to lure us back! Not that it will take much advertising to twist our arm. It’s a beautiful area with tons to do, even if you’re not into wine tasting.
To that end, I wanted to share some of our favorite non-wine related activities while we were in Penticton. If you have a car or are interested in taking public transportation, there are many more things you could fit into one day. We didn’t feel like gearing up and riding the bikes to a bunch of places on our day off so we stuck to things we could accomplish on foot. If you also find yourself staying downtown and wanting to get in your steps, here are some recommendations.
Walking the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) Trail
Despite it being early July, the weather was a little iffy for our trip. I was happy that we were really only faced with clouds and some wind the morning of our full day in Penticton so we could spend our time outdoors.
Our first destination was McCulloch Trestle, which we wanted to reach by way of the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) Trail. We walked just up the hill from our AirBnB and through a residential area to the trail, which quickly led away from the houses and along the lake. The trail is wide, flat, and very easy to travel—suitable for all ages and abilities!
Along our walk there were multiple viewpoints of the lake to our left, and houses, a cemetery, and the Penticton letters on nearby Munson Mountain on our right. There were a number of people walking, running, and bicycling along the way—it was very safe and clean. We even ran into a couple of baby deer that must have jumped over the fencing and onto the trail!
Before too long the trail entered some vineyards and we wound inland until we reached the McCulloch Trestle. Brian followed a little footpath down alongside the trestle to the area below to take photos of the trestle and me on top of it! I preferred the views from above—looking out over the vineyards to the water and nearby foothills.
Many people use the trestle as a natural turnaround point and head back into town, but we decided to hop off the trail and walk along the road back toward the mountain we had passed earlier.
Hiking up Munson Mountain
Munson Mountain is along the eastern side of Okanogan Lake and easy to spot from downtown thanks to the easily discernable, bright white letters along its western side spelling out the word ‘Penticton.’ On the eastern side of the mountain there is a paved road that you can walk or drive to a small parking lot to begin your visit. We were on foot so we had a bit of a walk from the trestle and back to Munson Mountain before beginning the 1.2 mile-hike to the top.
When you first approach from the parking lot, there’s a pagoda straight ahead with some seating and views of the lake. There’s a nearby trail leading up the mountain lined with some benches.
We unfortunately missed all of this upon arrival and instead took part in a short scramble up one of the side trails to the top. Certainly a more expeditious approach but also a little steeper than necessary!
At the top, the wind was starting to pick up—I kept combing my hair out of my face so I could enjoy the 360-degree views of the surrounding area. I highly recommend taking the time to hike to the top!
Exploring the Waterfront
We didn’t end up spending that much time downtown but one area we did enjoy was the Okanogan Lake waterfront. There was some green space where we saw a couple of guys flying these massive kites that they controlled using their entire bodies. I imagine on warm summer days this area is packed with people enjoy the small beach areas and the restaurants along the water.
The weather was windy and overcast so we instead spent our time wandering through the small but lovely Ikeda Japanese Garden. As with most Japanese gardens, it was peaceful wandering around the lilly pad pools.
The Penticton Lakeside Resort and Conference Center sits right on the water, as does the Hooded Merganser restaurant, which I mentioned in my post about places to eat and drink in Penticton. Even if you’re not staying or enjoying a meal, the waterfront is a wonderful area to watch the sunset behind the nearby hills.
As always, there were a few other downtown spots and activities that I had to move over to my ‘next time’ list. Those included:
Penticton was everything I hoped it would be and more–I can’t wait to go back!