You can’t drive through Oliver area and not notice McIntyre Bluffs (nʕaylintn). It is one of the most well-known landmarks in the entire Okanagan Valley. The Chief, as he is known, gazes down over the highway as you pass through the narrow rock corridor. Driving by is one thing – hiking to The Chief’s brow and peeking over the perilous drop is quite another.
The hike starts in lowland vineyards and rises up into the hills. As you hike up the back of bluffs, the terrain becomes more rocky, culminating at the cliff edge for which the hike so remarkable.
Directions To Trailhead:
Follow Secrest Hill Rd off Hwy 97 and turn onto Covet Pl before stopping at the main parking area of Covert Farms Family Estate. The winery has asked that hiking guests park in the designated lot as to not interfere with the busy summer operations. Don’t be intimidated by walking through the winery – the trail isn’t routed through the gift shop or anything and is absolutely possible to hike independently. It is necessary though to walk along the dirt roads of the vineyard for a kilometre or so before reaching the official trailhead.
Watch out for electric fences which are turned on during harvest when bears are active. Speaking of bears, the wine shop staff are happy to update hikers on the current situation of fires, floods, animals and other hazards. After the main trailhead, the path leads quickly away from the vineyard operations and it is complete wilderness the rest of the way.
Distance from Oliver to Trailhead: 7.5km
Walking time: 3-4 hours
Trail Length: 10km round trip
Elevation gain: 265m
GPS: Not necessary
Easy to Keep on Trail: yes