Munson Mountain is an extinct volcano located on the north-east end of Penticton, BC. It is well know for its giant PENTICTON sign, clearly visible from across Okanagan lake, and for the great panoramic views it offers of the South Okanagan valley. The access road to Munson Mountain is located off Middle Bench Road North, just north of Poplar Grove Winery. Look for a sign indicating the turn-off. At the end of the road there is a parking area and it is worth noting that there is no public washroom or outhouse at this location. The main trail leading from the parking area is paved and leads up to a sheltered viewing area. It offers a great view of Okanagan Lake, Penticton and Skaha Lake beyond. Even for very young children or people with accessibility issues this little stretch of trail is easy and rewarding.
To the right of the gazebo there is a gravel trail that continues up Munson Mountain. At one point the trail forks with one trail climbing to the top of the mountain and the other following a lower path below the large PENTICTON sign. We usually hike under the sign and continue along the trail to find a nearby geocache. The trail continues on and gently descends to a gate; beyond this point it is private property. The gate is passable but there are a couple things to note should you choose to pass through. First, be sure to close the gate! Second, the trail ends as it approaches the home. The property owners are planning to place a “no-through path” sign at the gate but at this time there is no sign indicating this.
Once the house is in view hike back towards Munson Mountain and don’t forget to secure the gate on the way through! As the trail approaches Munson Mountain there are two trail options. The first goes back along the bottom of the PENTICTON sign; the second is a short scramble up the mountain. The scramble is steep but fun for adventurous children. Be watchful of loose rocks! At the top of Munson Mountain take a moment to enjoy the breathtaking view. Wow! I can never get enough of the views in the Okanagan Valley. There are also some strategically place rocks at the top of Munson Mountain, known as the “Pen Henge”. These rocks were placed by the Okanagan Astronomical Society (now known as the Penticton Group of the Okanagan Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – quite the long name!), with the support of the City of Penticton, as Sosltice and Equinox sunset markets.
The entire hike, following the route as described above, is just under 2 km. The trail is a highly exposed to the sun, other than the gazebo lookout, so I would avoid hiking this trail with children on a hot summer afternoons. Otherwise it is a great family hike with amazing views!