Last fall I took my children hiking through the McTaggart-Cowan Wildlife/Nsək’łniw’t Management Area, a 6,500-hectares piece of land on the east side of Skaha lake that borders Skaha Bluff Provincial Park. Part of the land belongs to the Nature Trust as the Skaha Lake: Bighorn Sheep Habitat. When we hiked last fall we were searching for pictographs but it was a hot day and my youngest child had a difficult time with the incline of the trail. We made it to a large outcroping of rocks just past the powerlines and found a single pictograph but my children vetoed any further hiking and we returned home. Since then I have been wanting to return to find the remaining pictographs. With this past weekend being beautiful and sunny we opted to hike through the Skaha Lake: Bighorn Sheep Habitat in search of the rest of the pictographs one more time.
The trail head begins just off East Side Road, on the east side of Skaha Lake. To get there drive about about two kilometers past the turn for Skaha Bluffs. On the left hand side of the road (driving southerly) there is a small pond and a parking pull-out. Near the start of the trail there is a large billboard that was placed there by the Nature Trust, it explains a little about bighorn sheep conservation and restrictions for use of the trails.
Finding the Pictographs
There are quite of few trails throughout the area. To see the pictographs follow these directions. Just past the large sign there is a commemorative plaque, as you walk towards towards the plaque there is a small trail that veers right. This trail continues and climbs up a steep area and eventually joins up to an old, overgrown road. Continue along the road up the hill. As the road climbs further up the view is lovely. The trail eventually crosses under power lines and just ahead there is a large outcropping of rocks. Approach the rocks and you will discover the first pictographs along the trail, but there are more so don’t stop here!
As I mentioned there are quite a few trails in the area so it’s easy to get mixed up. Don’t take the trail down the hill, or backtrack to the trail under the power lines. Continue straight north from the rock, towards Penticton. The trail will parallel the power lines and there will be a large tree across the trail. Climb over the tree and continue onward, the trail will narrow. Eventually the trail with fork, follow the left trail that goes up. The trail gets rockier at this point and hugs along a rock wall. Keep an eye on the rock and you will notice a few pictographs scattered here and there. As you hike along there will be a cave, and voila! The pictographs! Please be respectful of the site. Not much further along the trail there is an amazing viewpoint of the city of Penticton, I would highly recommend going a little further to check it out.
This is only one of many places in the South Okanagan that you can find pictograph. Here is another place near Vaseux lake: Searching for Pictographs.