One of the nicest hiking areas in the Okanagan Valley of BC is in Kalamalka Lake Park. There are a number of entrances and trails in the park. My favorite trail begins at the red gate and is called Cosen’s Bay. It is situated about 3 kilometers from the north end of Kalamalka Lake and has some parking available at the trailhead.
The Cosen’s Bay hike is 7 km. in total. It is a beautiful swimming cove situated on a quiet area of the lake. There are picnic tables and toilet facilities available for hikers. It is an intermediate hike with some steep climbing, all on groomed trails. Dogs are required to be on leash, more for their own protection.
During the spring and fall it is quite common to see rattlesnakes and even the occasional black bear in the park. Both generally try to avoid contact with humans but for your pet’s safety and your own be aware of the dangers in the grass and trees off the path. Last year there was a very large rattler lying on the path, trying to soak up a bit of sun. They are pretty sluggish in early spring and a savvy hiker was able to remove it with a long stick. Don’t try it unless you are used to dealing with snakes.
The natural flora adapts well to the northern desert area and is very colorful during the late spring. Jumping cacti and pear cacti are common, as well as daisies and sunflowers and a variety of other perennials.
There are a few paths that go down to the lake off the main trail along the way. One is even wheelchair accessible from another parking area. The view from the trail is spectacular in places and at the first lookout over Cosen’s Bay there is a lovely cleared area with a bench.
Kalamalka Park also has many bike trails and one of the most popular ones shares the hiking path down to the bay. Many riders do a circle tour through the park. There are also sign posts and trail guides situated throughout the park.
An interesting side trip from the main trail is out along what is called Rattlesnake Point. It is a rocky but well-groomed hike to an area jutting out into the lake. There is very little chance of running into a rattler if you remain on the trail but don’t be surprised if you see one. The point is also a nice place for a refreshing swim or just to lie back and soak up the sun. Remember to bring your sunscreen though and your water bottle. The temperature can reach the low 40s during midsummer.
Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park is one of the most colorful lakes in BC and is well worth checking out. It is only a 5-hour drive from Vancouver. You can also fly into Kelowna and drive a half-hour north to enjoy the view.
For more information, check out http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/kalamalka_lk/