It’s been a year since we hiked the 5 km Testalindin Trail at Mount Kobau. It’s a hike we remember well because we got temporarily lost. When we last hiked the Testalindin Trail significant sections were covered under large swathes of fallen trees. We stumbled our way through the forest by following orange trail markers posted on trees. It was a harrowing experience, but a good learning opportunity and we came away unharmed and more the wiser.
Thankfully, last summer the Testalinden trail was re-routed. The new Chopaka Lookout Trail is a well marked a 3 km trail that climbs up to the Chopaka Lookout and loops back to the parking lot. I am so glad the trail was re-routed to complete a beautiful loop through the South Okanagan Grassland Protected Area. This hike has spectacular views of the surrounding valley and should be on your list of must-do family friendly hikes in the Okanagan Valley.
It’s a bit of a drive to get to top of Mount Kobau. I’ve included directions to the parking lot below. On our way up we encountered a small landslide that partially obstructed the gravel road but we drove around it (in a van) just fine. At the top there’s a parking area, outhouse, trail map and trail markers. Look for the new trail markers on the left side of the parking lot (if you’re looking towards the trail map), this is the start of the Chopaka Lookout Trail.
The first part of the Chopaka Lookout Trail is our favourite. The trail goes along rolling hills of heady sagebrush up to the Chopaka Lookout point that overlooks the Similkameen valley and Mount Chopaka in Washington. In early summer, this entire area is covered in colourful wildflowers. It’s breathtaking. After the viewpoint the trail loops towards the tower and then joins a dirt road road that leads back to the parking lot.
The 3 km hike took us 1.5 hours which included a lunch break at the lookout point. Because this hike it is much higher in elevation it’s quite a bit cooler than down in the valley. On a sunny 34°C (93°F) day it was about ten degrees cooler up on Mt. Kobau. This makes Mt. Kobau a great place to explore in July and August when hiking down in the valley can be uncomfortably hot.
Mount Kobau is located north-west of Osoyoos, BC. The access road is located off the Crowsnest highway (BC-3 W), approximately 12 km from Osoyoos. Coming from Osoyoos, take a right turn onto the Kobau Mountain Forest Service Road and drive up the approximately 20 km gravel road to the top of the mountain. On the slow drive up the mountain you can see the devastation of the 2015 Testalinden Creek fire, cattle grazing among the hills and spectacular views of the Okanagan Valley below.