Penticton is one of only two cities in the world that sits between two lakes. Thanks to the balmy summer weather and proximity to Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake, Penticton is a coveted summertime destination, with inspiring outdoor experiences typically revolving around water and sunshine. But fun in Penticton doesn’t stop when autumn and winter arrive. This lovely city still has incredible outdoor activities to offer in the low season and should be at the top of your fall and winter bucket list. Here’s why.
The Okanagan Valley is a mountain biker’s dream. Penticton has excellent trails that were designed by local bikers and feature super clean transitions with excellent berms and kickers.
Most would consider hitting the trails in the summer months, but fall is one of the best times to experience them. There are far fewer people on the tracks, giving you much more freedom to cruise at your own pace and have your favorite sections all to yourself.
Even in the winter, you can get your mountain biking kicks by taking a fat tire bike out on the trails. Bring your own or rent one locally at Freedom Bike Shop and take it to the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, a 650-kilometre recreational trail that intersects with Penticton. The KVR Trail is a part of the Trans Canada Trail, the longest network of multi-use recreational trails in the world.
More trails to consider:
- Three Blind Mice: Head out to Three Blind Mice and take on one of 90 trails in the park. Rip through rocky terrain consisting of boulders, bluffs, ponderosa pine forests and open grasslands. Stop along the way and take in panoramic views of the orchards and vineyards that overlook Okanagan Lake.
- Campbell Mountain: Providing a great network of 40 mountain biking trails, Campbell Mountain has a trail to accommodate any skill level. Tackle all types of terrain including rock, gravel, mud, sand and roots. Among biking enthusiasts, this park is considered an excellent place to learn the ins and outs of mountain biking.
With eight mountains and over 200 trails totalling more than 350 kilometres, there are plenty of routes with something for everyone in Penticton.
With ideal geology, Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park is a popular rock climbing area. Though typically a summertime activity, cooler fall days can make rock climbing even more enjoyable by helping climbers regulate their body temperature. Climbers visiting Skaha Bluffs will relish the fact that the park features over 1,000 different routes.
In winter, when climbing outdoors becomes too dangerous, head over to Hoodoo Adventures where you’ll find 5,000 square feet of indoor climbing walls. It provides climbers with access to the popular MoonBoard, a specially designed interactive training wall that ranks users globally and tracks their overall climbing performance.
There are plenty of fun winter sports to try out when visiting Penticton, including downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, tubing, ice skating and snowshoeing. The two most popular places for taking in these winter activities are Apex Mountain Resort and the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre.
- Apex Mountain Resort: As the only ski mountain in the Okanagan Valley that faces northeast, Apex Mountain’s snow is less affected by the sunshine, which can turn powder into a harder, less enjoyable type of snow. Instead, the ideal conditions at Apex create incredible, light champagne powder. The mountain has 79 marked runs for skiing and snowboarding as well as 15 snowshoe trails. In the Apex Village, there are shops, restaurants, a coffee shop, as well as rentals available, for everything you need to spend a day up at the hill. The village is home to two great family activities, the Adventure Skating Loop and the Apex Tube Park.
- Nickel Plate Nordic Centre: Nickel Plate Nordic Centre is a cross-country skier’s dream, with one of Canada’s longest ski seasons. This park is an easy option as it is just six kilometres past Apex Mountain Resort and a 45-minute drive from downtown Penticton. The park has a whopping 56 kilometres of groomed cross-country trails and 22.5 kilometres of snowshoe trails—including dog-friendly snowshoe trails!
Exploratory GloryVisitors are encouraged to leave as little impact on the environment as possible when visiting Penticton. Being a very walk- and bike-friendly city means there are easy ways to see the attractions without taking a car.
- Okanagan Lake Promenade: Any time of the year is a good time to take a stroll along Penticton’s attractive waterfront, but especially in the fall when the leaves change colour and create a wonderful contrast against Okanagan Lake. There is also a plethora of unique art sculptures lining the boardwalk, adding a neat artistic flare to an already picturesque scene. There are resorts, hotels, restaurants, and pubs, all available at your convenience.
- Skaha Bluffs Pictographs: Take a step back in time on this awe-inspiring 5.6-kilometre trail that will leave your imagination running wild. Trek through the deep rocky canyons of the Skaha Bluffs and marvel at ancient pictographs estimated to be between 500-1,300 years old, painted by Indigenous peoples from the Okanagan area. Make your way up a rocky hillside to reach the site of a cave where people once lived and created art.
After an adventure-filled day, you’ll likely want to take it easy, and what better way to unwind than to visit a local brewery and indulge in some tasty craft beers?
Pentictonites take pride in the fact that Lonely Planet named their city Canada’s Craft Beer Capital in 2019. There are currently eight breweries in the city, with five located closely in the downtown area. Each of the breweries are prime spots to create good memories with refreshing brews after a long day of outdoor exploration.
Find more fall and winter outdoor adventures and plan your trip to Penticton now.
Penticton is a popular destination for all types of visitors. With our city’s deep roots of agriculture, craft and Indigenous culture and outdoor recreation, Penticton is an iconic destination that needs to be experienced multiple times throughout the year.