Irrigation projects in the early 1900s made the Okanagan known for its lush vineyards and orchards. Nowadays, modern technology has left a lot of these projects abandoned in the forest – for explorers to discover!
1) Hydraulic – KLO Creek
Starting at Hydraulic Creek there is a large stavepipe that winds through the forest. Eventually before hitting Myra FSR, it transitions to a concrete flume. The flume continues west to KLO Creek where it dives down the canyon into a metal pipe and using a siphoning effect, rockets back up the opposite cliff to join another flume on the west side.
To view the flume, try accessing at the south end of Field Road in South-East Kelowna. The Flume also crosses Myra FSR but it is easy to drive past without noticing it. The best section of the flume is between Hydraulic Creek and KLO Creek, best accessed from the KLO Creek hiking trail – there is a offshoot trail heading east from the quarry at the beginning of the popular creek walk.
The stavepipe is also very interesting but it is much more difficult to access as it is located in thick forest. Try starting on Myra FSR and follow the flume east until it transitions to stave pipe.
2) Fur Brigade Flume
It is easy to walk past this on the regular fur brigade trail near Peachland but just north of the trail there is a tin flume in the forest raised on wooden trestles.
This flume once stretched from Deep Creek (above Hardy Falls) and carried water down to Greata Ranch. It was used until the mid 1980s!
3) Peachland Dam + Trepanier stavepipe
The Trepanier Creek above Peachland was once dammed and some water was diverted into a stavepipe along the water. Most of it is destroyed now but several pieces still remain in the forest. The old dam is mostly intact and makes for interesting exploration.
4) Quail Ridge Flume
The Quail Ridge Linear Park north of UBCO has an old concrete flume running alongside for a couple kilometers. This flume and others helped develop the Glenmore valley 100 years ago.
5) Fintry Canyon
Surely one of the more ambitious irrigation projects in the Okanagan existed above the Fintry Estate. A suspension bridge and other platforms hanging to the cliffside were built through the canyon to hold a pipe to irrigate orchards and run an electric generator.
6) Glenrosa Flume
This short trail is popular with hikers in West Kelowna. Access begins at the end of Blue Jay Drive.
7) Cartwright Mountain Flume Trail
A flume trail exists on the south side of Cartwright Mountain as part of the extensive hiking/biking trails near Summerland, BC. One section features a concrete flume that stretches several hundreds of metres. The rest of the irrigation system that once fed the lush Garnet Valley is visible in parts but now largely abandoned and destroyed.
8) North Glenmore Dog Park
Talk about hiding in plain sight – must have driven past this one a hundred times before someone suggested the tip to walk south of North Glenmore dog park. Sure enough after the mildest of bushwhacking, some concrete footings that clearly held a steel flume are visible. Further on there are other remains that confirm the irrigation project. Eventually the waterway turns into a concrete flume that runs for several hundred metres before being consumed by farmland.
9) Grey Canal
On the subject of irrigation projects in the Okanagan, this one takes the cake hands down. For some time in the early 1900s, this 50km long irrigation route was the longest canal from a single source in all of BC. Lake Aberdeen, high in the hills south of Vernon empties into Duteau creek. Part of the water was diverted from the creek to flow down the 50km canal and was instrumental in the formation of greater Vernon and Coldstream.
Most of the 50km still remains as either a scar on the land, a weathered earthen ditch, or concrete and steel flumes. Much of this has been turned into walking trails. Click here for the trail association website which has extensive information.
One very long day in April 2023 I explored/hiked/biked as much of the 50km trail as was humanly possible. More details in video:
10) Tallus Flume Trail
The Tallus Flume trail in West Kelowna does indeed have ‘flume’ in the name and does roughly follow an old irrigation project but there isn’t much to see regarding the old flume. There are a couple spots where the curved steel plating of the flume are visible but most has been lost to vandalism and salvage over the last 50 years of abandonment. The trail itself is average at best – more of an offroad highway these days.
11) Munroe Flume
The Munroe FSR flume is a hidden gem. Best kept secret to locals in Peachland. Concrete lining still exists along many parts of this historic waterway as it meanders along the hillside. It is possible to walk down the middle of the canal for around 2km before the remains of a headgates is found in Peachland Creek.
12) Woodhaven Regional Park
This old flume in the middle of Kelowna surely wouldn’t exist were it not in the protective boundaries of Woodhaven Regional Park. There is a section of the walking trail here named the ‘flume trail’. A small steel irrigation flume supported by wooden trestles can be found stretching across much of the park.
13) Black Mountain
Not far from Joe Rich and the Black Mountain golf course exists a hidden gem of a concrete flume. It can be accessed by diverting off the Black Mountain Regional Park trails but it’s exact location is a bit difficult to find without directions (or satellite maps).