A quick disclaimer: This 4.5 km trail is a hodgepodge of paths connected together to make up one continuous loop that explores the first town-site of Summerland, BC. The result is that there’s lots of interesting features, beautiful viewpoints and curious sights along the way but there are also some less desirable aspects to this loop, especially for families with children. If you’re considering hiking this trail with children I would recommend taking a moment to read the trail description below before setting out.
The Summerland Centennial Trail (map here) begins at Peach Orchard Road just past the Highway 97 underpass in Summerland, BC. The trailhead is well signed but there is no parking available there. We parked up the road, just before the underpass, in front of the police department. It’s only short walk from there to the trailhead. The first portion of the trail is a single track trail that parallel Aeneas Creek as it flows downhill. We enjoyed walking down the trail under tall deciduous trees and over a couple small bridge as we listened to the bubbling creek. Along this portion of the trail we discovered a couple alternate access points that would allow for parking along Peach Orchard Road. However, I would recommend starting the trail from the top because this first stretch of the trail is quite lovely.
A little ways down the hill there is a trail map on the left hand side and a narrow trail climbing up the bank on the right. This is the point where the loop intersects. It’s well worth hiking the loop in a counterclockwise direction so I recommend taking the trail on the right. The trail climbs up the bank and end abruptly at Bristow Rd. It might seem like there is no trail that continues onward, but the “trail” actually continues straight along Bristow Rd. until it ends at a cul-de-sac. Truthfully, we didn’t find it appealing to be “hiking” on the road with no sidewalks and having to cross a significant intersection with no crosswalk. My children weren’t keen on this section of the trail either until I discover a handful of Geocaches along the way, a fun diversion!
At the cul-de-sac there is a steep paved road on the right that goes downhill towards the highway. At the end there is a trail that follows along Prairie Creek. This trail was an old roadway that connected the first townsite to the present townsite of Summerland. We accidentally bypassed the first portion of this trail by following a singletrack trail down the bank. Along this part of the trail there are dramatic clay walls and several small bridges but once again the trail ends at a road, this time Butler St.
The “trail” continues up Butler St. then turns left onto Shaughnessy Ave which becomes Lakeshore Drive South. There is a neat old store along this road filled with someones treasures (that are not for sale). The trail continues along Lakeshore Drive South until is connects once more with Peach Orchard Rd. However, this portion of the trail is less interesting than an alternate path along the Okanagan lake waterfront. To find this alternate trail cross Lakeshore Drive South at the Summerland Waterfront Resort. The trail begins behind the resort and passes by a small conservation marsh, the yacht club, the freshwater fisheries, the racket club and continues along the beach to Peach Orchard Park. The park is great resting place before the final hike back up the hill.
The final stretch of the trail continues at the north end of Peach Orchard Park up Peach Orchard Rd. The first half of the “trail” is uphill on the road. There are no sidewalks and a lot of traffic. It’s decidedly the worst part of the entire loop especially for children. With some coaxing my children managed the first portion with few complaints. About halfway up the road the trail reconnects to single track trail which completes the loop. All that’s left is the final stretch to the trailhead.
The Summerland Centennial Trail is a mixed bag. There are portions of the trail that are lovely and others undesirable. We hiked the trail on a sunny 20°C afternoon in the early fall and the temperatures were lovely. During summer, portions of this trail would be nice and cool, those near the creeks, but those on the exposed paved paths would be hot. Also, much of the road sections are not ideal for children. Bristow Rd, Butler St and Peach Orchard Rd have no sidewalks and folk drive fast on these roads! Yikes! Lakeshore Drive South has sidewalks but we preferred the alternate route along the waterfront. My recommendation for families interested in hiking the Summerland Centennial Trail is to explore sections of the trail. The trails along Aeneas creek, Prairie creek and along the waterfront would make for a lovely stroll.
The Summerland Centennial Trail has a lot of potential for being a great family friendly trail. Hopefully this trail will see improvements in the near future to make it safer and more cohesive.