The Grey Canal takes the prize for most ambitious historical irrigation project in the Okanagan. 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.

Old flume (East Swan Lake section of trail)

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. The old canal had 18 trestles to support the waterway as well as several siphons to overcome gullies and cliffs. There are a couple places, including turtle mountain, where the old siphons can be found.

Of the 50km of historic canal, approximately half has been turned into walking/hiking/cycling trails. Here are a list of the of the sections and some notes for the visitor:

Coldstream Valley Estates

A pleasant flat trail that parallels the old grey canal route. Parts of the earthen ditch and concrete flume are clearly visible. Halfway through this section, the trail makes a strange diversion uphill to avoid public land. While a diversion from the Grey Canal route, the views over Vernon and the valley are fantastic.

Old Flume (Coldstream Valley Estates Section)

Boss Creek

This is a very strange portion of the Grey Canal route. There is a hidden portion of the old canal in its concrete flume form to be found but the trail itself takes a painful approach in attempts to connect to the wider trail. Many get lost in this section trying to hike through. At several points it terminates at private roads making the whole section confusing. One word: skippable.

East Vernon

Like the Boss Creek section of trail, the East Vernon section attempts to connect the trail between private land and does a poor job of following the old Grey Canal route as well as provide interesting trail. It feels much like walking down back alleys and quiet countryside streets. Best skip this section.

BX Creek + Falls

The Grey Canal once crossed BX creek using a jaw-dropping steep siphon system made of wooden staves. For anyone interested in an adventure, remnants of this old wooden pipe can be found in the forest beside the creek. For anyone interested in a nice walk to a falls, take a diversion off the Grey Canal route to BX Falls.


This section of the Grey Canal route starts in pastureland following the old earthen ditch but soon follows an exposed steel siphon and concrete flumes as it passes behind acreages and farmland.

Walking down the canal (foothills trail section)

East Swan Lake

The East Swan Lake portion of the trail feels quite rugged and contains the most extensive remains of the trestle-raised canal. The trail passes through the canal infrastructure wreckage while giving a glimpse at the scale of the canal project.

Old Flume (east swan lake section of trail)
Old Trestle (east swan lake section)

Turtle Mountain

The most popular section of the trail features exposed bits of the old 750m long steel siphon buried under the trail. A wooden walkway wraps around a scenic section of rocky outcropping and the views over Vernon are excellent.

Bella Vista

Another very popular section of the trail follows the earthen ditch and concrete flume remnants of the Gray Canal trail before it finally terminated at Okanagan Lake. The cliffs in this area make for good hiking diversions.

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: