Snow crystals fall through the air as your shoulder brushes against loaded branches, and the snow crunches underneath your feet as the snowshoe floats above the blanketed forest floor. Kelowna is mainly known for its warmer months, semi-arid desert landscape, rolling hills covered in blossoming balsamroot flowers, sagebrush, and seemingly endless sunny summer days. But for those feeling ready to brave a bit of cold, the landscapes of Kelowna are equally as rewarding to travel through in the middle of winter. While the snow is flying in the sky, snowshoeing is the perfect way to get out and explore.

This article will cover some of the basics needed to help you plan your adventure and tell you some of the great places in the area where you can get out and snowshoe!

What to Know Before You Go

While snowshoeing is a less action-packed alternative to downhill skiing or snowboarding, there are still some essential points for safety to keep in mind before heading out:

1. Always carry a map either downloaded on your phone or a paper copy.

2. It is best to bring a form of communication and to let someone know where you are going and how long you plan to be gone.

3. Dress for the cold and bring extra layers. While snowshoeing, your body produces a lot of heat and sometimes sweat. When sweat cools, materials such as cotton hold the cold to your body and can contribute to hypothermia. Wearing wool or other hydrophobic synthetic materials that trap the warmth against your body is essential. Bringing extra dry layers will help you to be prepared for changing weather and anything that may cause you to take longer than expected.

4. Bring Water and snacks. Sometimes, you don’t feel thirsty when you are out in the cold, but it is best to force yourself to drink some water anyway to prevent that dehydration headache on the drive back to town. Snacks are also crucial if something unexpected happens, requiring you to stay out longer than expected. Consuming extra calories is a great way to keep the body warm.

5. Have fun!

Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club

Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe. Photo: Mathew Wanbon

Located 50 minutes from Downtown Kelowna and just a short drive off Highway 33, Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club’s 80km of snowshoe trails offer a wide range of options for snowshoers of varying experience. The cost of snowshoeing here is relatively low at $9 for adults and $4 for youth and students, making this an affordable excursion for the day. One downside is that there are no rentals on-site for those who do not own their own snowshoes. Thankfully, you can rent snowshoes in Kelowna at Play It Again Sports. All the snowshoe trails are dog friendly, with leashes required, making this a great place to bring your fluffy friend.

One of the big highlights of Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club is the cabins scattered throughout the network. One of the cabins listed as the Log Cabin on their maps is stated to be the prettiest cabin and can be reached in as little as an 8km loop via the Snowy Hilton and Snowy Cabin trails. The Log Cabin was equipped with a wood stove and several tables, making it a perfect stop for a snack. For more info on the locations of cabins and all the other trails at Kelowna Nordic, you can download a free map of the area through the Avenza Maps app. Also noted on the Avenza Map are some of the more scenic lookout points throughout the network, some of which boast vast views of the surrounding mountains, including Big White.


Big White Ski Resort

Snowshoeing on Heather's Hop Trail at Big White Ski Resort. Photo: Mathew Wanbon

For many visiting the Okanagan in the winter, visiting Big White Ski Resort for a day or weekend is an obvious on the list. While the abundance of ski and snowboard terrain is an obvious draw for many, the serenity of the snowy backcountry snowshoe trails is a highly underrated way to spend your day at Big White. With 25 kilometres of combined Nordic and snowshoe trails, there is more than enough terrain for the average person to explore in a day. When going snowshoeing at Big White, it is best to park at the Happy Valley Day Lodge and take the free gondola up to the Village Centre Mall, where you can buy tickets and rentals before returning to Happy Valley where the trails begin.

One highlight about visiting Big White is the option to have a guided tour of the trails with two options, an Interpretive Tour for those aged 15+ and a Family Adventure Tour that is inclusive of all ages. While this is one of the more expensive options on the list, the extensive knowledge of the trails and local flora and fauna, along with their commitment to tailoring the experience to the group's needs, make this an attractive option for a snowshoeing adventure.


Myra Canyon

The trestles along the historic Kettle Valley Railway at Myra Canyon are the most affordable option for snowshoeing in the Kelowna area. For those who own their own snowshoes, the only cost of this is the means of travel to and from, and if you don’t own your own snowshoes, you can rent some in town before you head up there. The affordability does not come at a loss, as the trestles are a one-of-a-kind location with 2 tunnels and 18 trestle bridges initially built in the early 1900s spanning over large gullies and providing dramatic views of Myra Canyon and the Okanagan Valley below.

To get to the trestles, drive along McCulloch Rd before turning left onto Myra Forest Service Road, which will take you to a large parking lot along the Kettle Valley Railway. Note that depending on weather conditions, you may need 4x4 or AWD to reach the parking lot. This is an 11.5km out-and-back trail, making it a total distance of 23km to hike the whole thing. Fortunately, the option exists to turn around at any time, and the first of the trestles is only a 3km round trip.


Telemark Nordic

Snowshoe Closeup at Telemark Nordic Club
Telemark Nordic Club in West Kelowna. Photo: Mathew Wanbon

Located an easy 15-minute drive from the heart of West Kelowna, Telemark Nordic Club boasts approximately 50km of snowshoe trails with two separate areas, the canine-friendly area and the main area. In their main area trails, there is something for all levels of ability, with Trail lengths ranging from 2, 4, 8, 10 & 15 km.

A highlight of this trail network is the 8 km Panorama Ridge trail that starts at the chalet and ends with a spectacular panorama view looking to the Connector highway in the west and Lake Okanagan to the east. The cost to visit this location is $5 for youth and $9 for adults, and they offer rentals on-site in their cozy day lodge.


SilverStar Ski Resort

Located in the North Okanagan, the enchanting snowy forests of Silver Star Ski Resort are home to 16km of dog-friendly snowshoe trails. The trails are clearly marked with hand-carved wooden signs and reflective markers, making finding your way through the winding forest easy. A day pass costs $14, and rentals are $25 for youth/adults and $20 for seniors/children. For those renting snowshoes, the trails are best accessed from the Village, but there is a secondary access point in the nearby Adventure Park area.

Snowshoeing is a perfect way to explore the great outdoors while the ground is covered in snow. The slow pace of snowshoeing allows you to admire the subtle beauty and quiet of the winter forest in a way that the fast pace of skiing and snowboarding doesn’t. Whether you are craving a bit of exercise, quality time with loved ones, or the rejuvenating experience of forest bathing, the vast offering of snowshoeing destinations in Kelowna has you covered.


Main Image: Snowshoeing at Myra Canyon Trestles