SOS: Secret spots in an undiscovered park

Hidden gems in nature

This week's SOS was a trip down memory trail in The Undiscovered Park.

The Sheriff returned to the backcountry of the Glenmore Highlands in Kelowna, now roughly one-half of it the huge Wilden residential development, located between Glenmore Road in the Glenmore Valley and Clifton Road above Okanagan Lake.

(For those who didn't read previous columns in the Secret Okanagan Spots (SOS) series, they are available here.

The Sheriff bought the farm (literally, not figuratively) in 1986 and his first horseback ride of thousands was up the north-south ridge west of Glenmore Road in Kelowna. There was no Wilden then and no paved roads, but there were numerous trail loops that wound around 10 small ponds. So many memories.

After you pass the roundabout on Union Road, you start climbing the hill on Upper Canyon Drive. On your right is the Sheriff's “Secret Pond” which was out in the middle of nowhere in the late 1980s. In the intervening years, it has filled with bullrushes but you can still take the trail north to intersect with Union Road near Begby Road.

The Sheriff remembers riding to “his” pond on his Tennessee walking horse Miss Amber. (She was a Canadian horse so we all called her Miss Eh!) The Sheriff would sit quietly and listen to all the bird calls—the high notes, low notes, different rhythms—and it reminded him of the sound of the numerous instruments in the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra.

When he read that in Making Tracks, then-conductor Leonard Camplin joked: "What were you smoking?" Recreational drugs not required; just your imagination.

The Sheriff also watched Mr. Coyote emerge from the woods, circle the pond, pounce on a mouse and eat it. When Mr. Coyote spotted the Sheriff and Miss Eh, he raced back into the woods.

Who could forget when golden retriever Duke the Golden Drooler and a German shepherd named Rocky (Balboa) sniffed at Mr. Porcupine and got needled in return? Orthe tri-colour sheltie, Joe E. (Gaal, named after a friend) who wanted to meet Mr. Coyote when Mrs. Coyote was waiting to eat fresh canine on the other side of that hill.

The Sheriff marked the trails with orange flagging tape for his personal map. When others started ripping the tape down, he stood on Miss Eh's saddle (what a good horse!) and re-tied them as high as he could reach. A couple are still there.

Back on Upper Canyon Drive, turn left onto Forest Edge Drive and at the cul-de-sac’s dead end is the trail to Grainger Road off Clifton Road, the southern access point.

When you reach the first wildlife pond (first SOS, uphill of Crosby Road), a sign says that behind you is Wilden. Ahead (no sign) is the undiscovered public park called Knox Mountain East. Past the long, skinny pond that the Sheriff calls “Duck Runway” (ducks landing and taking off), you will pass Journal Junction, where someone placed a journal for all those passing by to sign. It includes a chainsaw-cut wooden chair to sit on while writing. That’s SOS No. 2.

The first date in the journal is March 29, 2021 but there was an earlier version of the journal that has disappeared. The current version urges: "Share a story. Share a poem. Share a reflection. Share some inspiration. Take a moment in the quiet of this pine forest and write in this journal."

And many have. One of the first entries was from “Jubhoan K.” Who “wrote: “Moutain (sic) biking is fun! Grade 11." Then “Reid” advised, "Ride or die."

On a sentimental note, “Your neighbour” wrote on March 29, 2021: "This journal I dedicate to my mother, Betty, who would have turned 91 today. She taught me to love nature. She often talked of drinking in the beauty of nature with her eyes."

So take your time, read a few entries and leave your own special message.


Stuart Park in Kelowna can be your hub for weekly activities all summer long, says the latest City of Kelowna newsletter.

You can roller or inline skate to the beat with Roller Night 7:30-9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays until Aug. 29. Bring your own roller or inline skates and safety equipment or rent equipment on-site. Dancing in the Park is 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. on Wednesdays. Dance schedule is Aug. 9: Zumba; Aug. 16: Line Dance; Aug. 23: SHiNE Dance Fitness; and Aug. 30: Bhangra. Sunset

Yoga will follow Dancing in the Park from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Wednesday. Bring your own yoga mat and water bottle, and enjoy a yoga practice led by a certified instructor. All ages, abilities and experiences levels are welcome at these events.

The city also has Park & Play, a free all-ages event that runs weeknights from 5 p.m to 8 p.m. through August at various parks throughout the city.

Plus Parks Alive! will be on-site on select dates with musical entertainment provided by Festivals Kelowna. Go here to find the Park & Play event near your home.


The alpine blossom season is in full bloom at Sun Peaks Resort and is easily accessible from the Sunburst Chairlift, says Colin Brost, senior director of destination and market development for Tourism Sun Peaks.

"With multiple daily guided hiking tours, guests can take advantage of local knowledge and learn about the region or explore the well-marked trail network on their own. For a truly unique experience, find your Zen during an Alpine Yoga session. Immerse yourself in nature and recharge with an outdoor yoga session surrounded by the stunning alpine beauty of Sun Peaks. Once you arrive, your group will undertake a short hike through alpine wildflower meadows (25-30 minutes) to a remote mountainside location before enjoying a 45-minute yoga practice. Once complete, your instructor will lead you on a return hike to the on-mountain Sunburst Lodge."

For more info about alpine yoga, go here.

For more info on Sun Peaks hiking, go here.


The Crankworx Summer Series returns to SilverStar Mountain Resort this weekend with five different events involving big air, fast berms and some of the best riding in the world. Today (Sunday), the final day has the Bannister 4x4 Event 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Slopestyle Men's and Women's Finals 2 p.m.-5:30 p.m. and CWX Summer Series After Party at The Red Antler 9 p.m. to late.


The District of Lake Country introduced an online interactive map featuring its trails, paths and their respective accessibility in May.

It has proven very popular, with 534 views during the first month and the official Okanagan Rail Trail map receiving 1,668 views. Developed with the help of a Canada Healthy Communities Initiative grant, the map created by the volunteer organization Walk Around Lake Country (WALC) is designed to be responsive on mobile devices.

The user-friendly map provides information on trail lengths, ratings, cautions, descriptions and parking availability. It also includes details on the Regional District of Central Okanagan's Cottonwood and Regional District of Northern Okanagan's Kal Crystal Waters trails, the Winfield Creek Trail on the Oceola Fish and Game preserve, and Spion Kop trails on Crown land.

Additional funding from the grant enabled the installation of way-finding signs for the trails and paths. Printed maps can be obtained at Lake Country Municipal Hall, 10150 Bottom Wood Lake Road. Major trailheads also now feature QR codes that direct users to the online map/GIS web app for more trail information.

WALC, a small volunteer community service organization, is seeking additional members who are passionate about developing and stewarding walking and hiking trails in the community. To learn more or get involved, email [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Making Tracks articles

About the Author

J.P. Squire arrived in the Okanagan Valley from flatland Chatham, Ont. in the middle of the night in the spring of 1980. Waking up in the Highway 97 motel, he looked across the then-four-lane roadway at Mount Baldy and commented: "Oh my God, there's mountains." Driving into downtown Kelowna, he exclaimed: "Oh my God, there's a lake."

The rest is history. After less than a month in Kelowna, he concluded: "I'm going to live here for a long time." And he did.

Within weeks and months, he was hiking local hillsides, playing rec hockey at Memorial Arena and downhill skiing at Big White Ski Resort. After purchasing a hobby farm in the Glenmore Valley in 1986, he bought the first of many Tennessee Walking Horses. After meeting Constant Companion Carmen in 1999, he bought two touring kayaks and they began exploring Interior lakes and B.C.'s coast.

The outdoor recreation column began with downhill ski coverage every winter as the Ski Sheriff but soon progressed to a year-round column as the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff.

His extensive list of contacts in Okanagan outdoor recreation clubs, organizations and groups means a constant flow of emails about upcoming events and activities which will be posted on Castanet every Sunday.

You can email the Sheriff at: [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories