Terrace Mountain is one of the highest in the Okanagan and is a must do for serious hikers!
Directions to Trailhead
Terrace Mountain is in the wilderness an hour or so from Kelowna and has no official trail or trailhead. There is a rough (at some spots downright frightening) 4×4 road up the mountain to service the communications towers and this is traditionally the way that hikers have ventured to the top. Specifically, they drive up the service road as far as they are comfortable and hike the rest of the way.
An alternative route (I’ll claim this as my own find until proven wrong!) is to walk up the beautiful treeless ramp that wraps around the east side of the mountain. This can be accessed with any vehicle by decent forestry roads.
For a long day hike, it is possible to combine a visit to nearby Christie falls by continuing along the ridge above the falls to some cliffs overlooking Fintry Proteced Area. From there, the Terrace ramp is put in clear view.
No matter which route is taken, some careful planning is required as there are lots of ways to get lost on the drive up and while hiking.
Take Westside Rd out of Kelowna along Okanagan lake and turn on Bear Lake Main Rd. 12km later, turn right on Esperon Forestry Road (no clear sign). 10km later, just before hitting Esperon (Big Horn) Lake there is a road to the right with a sign saying ‘Terrace Mountain Lookout’. Take this turn for the service road. Don’t turn and continue past the sign and lake another 4.5km for the Christie Falls (left) turn. Don’t turn and continue past the Christie Falls turnoff for an additional 3.3km to park near the base of the Terrace Mountain ramp.
These are general directions – don’t head out without a GPS track (see below) or offroad map.
All the following is based on the rampwalk option as it is in my opinion, by far the most exciting path up the mountain. The bottom of the ramp is not clearly visible from the road below, however, if you drive past you can look back and see it (without a GPS this is probably the best way to find where to park). There is approximately 100m of light bushwhacking up a steep incline before you can confirm you actually made it on to the ramp.
The rampwalk is a beautiful 3km treeless walk along the edge of steep cliffs with pristine views towards Okanagan lake and beyond. At the end of the ramp there is an annoying 250m bushwhack through thick forest to join up with the service road right below the summit. From the summit, enjoy 360 views in all directions – Big White, Little White, Blue Grouse, Okanagan Mountain, Fintry Protected Area, Shorts Creek Canyon Rim, Adventure Bay, and Monashee Provincial Park are all visible.
Kelowna to Trailhead: approx 1 hour
Trail Return time: 3-4 hours (6-8 with Christie Falls)
Elevation gain: approximately 550m up
GPS: A very very good idea
Easy to Stay on trail: There is no hiking trail