Bear Creek Provincial Park is located west of downtown Kelowna. To access the park take the clearly marked exit from Highway 97 towards Westside Road, the exit is just before the bridge going into Kelowna (or just after the bridge if leaving Kelowna). The park’s close proximity to the city of Kelowna makes it a popular spot for hiking and camping. The campground opens at the end of March and closes at the beginning of October. We’ve never camped there but you can find more information about the campground and reservations on the Bear Creek Provincial Park webpage.
Canyon Rim Trail is part of Bear Creek Provincial Park and lies across the road from the campground. The trail is accessible year round but the parking lot at the trailhead is closed off-season. If the parking lot is closed, park along Wetside Road instead. The Canyon Rim Trail is a 2.5 km loop that follows Lambly (Bear) Creek up one side of the canyon and then down the other side (see map). There are five lookout points along the way and two bridged creek crossing at either end of the loop. The trail has about 90 metres of elevation gain and multiple sets of stairs to climb or descend. Even with the elevation gain this trail does not feel particularly difficult. I think it’s because there are so many great features to see along the way!
On our hike we started by going left from the parking lot, taking mid-canyon trail and completing the loop clockwise. We really enjoyed taking this route. It shortened the trail a little and allows us stop at all the viewpoints. From the lookouts we’d peek down into the canyon and see the Bear Creek waterfalls, or we’d look across at the beautiful view of Okanagan Lake and Kelowna. Near the bridges we explored several small trails leading down to the creek. My kids love exploring creeks, but just be aware that Bear Creek is high and quick moving in the spring. We also got to descend the biggest flight of stairs, instead of climb them, by hiking clockwise.
There are two outhouses along the trail, one in the parking lot and one near the top end of the loop. The toilets can get neglected during the off-season, so much that my youngest refused to use them. Because of the multiple sets of stairs, this trail is not stroller friendly, not even trail stroller friendly. I suggest leaving the stroller at home and using a carrier if you’ve got a little one in tow. Also, this trail is quite exposed and would be very hot on a summer afternoon. If you’re exploring this trail in the summer I recommend starting early in the morning or in the later in the day to avoid the mid-afternoon sun.
Thank you to the fellow Okanagan adventurer for recommending this hike! Our family really enjoyed exploring the Canyon Rim Trail and rank it high on our list of favourite family friendly hikes in the Okanagan Valley.