Whether I’m entertaining visitors to the Thompson Okanagan region or want to alter my own vantage point, going on a hike is a great way to change perspective.
One of my favourite little spots for a picnic hike is Munson Mountain Park in Penticton, British Columbia. It’s only minutes from downtown just above the iconic Penticton giant letters viewed on the hillside coming in along the lakeshore from Summerland. You head up Vancouver Avenue toward Naramata and just past the Poplar Grove Winery, you will see the sign indicating where to turn. If you haven’t packed your own picnic, you might want to consider popping into The Bench Artisan Market along the way for provisions. Or sometimes we like to accomplish the hike and then reward ourselves with lunch at The Vanilla Pod Restaurant at Poplar Grove Winery or The Kitchen at Misconduct Wine Co.
Up the short and windy access road, there’s a small parking lot and a paved path leading to a sturdy concrete and wood gazebo that overlooks the Poplar Grove Winery and the town of Penticton. Pause in the parking area to overlook the gorgeous orchards, vineyards and portion of the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) Trail along the Naramata bench. Note the conveniently located garbage containers and please be sure to deposit your trash here rather than on the trail (it always disappoints me when I make the trek and have to pick up after inconsiderate folks).
The walk to the gazebo is highly accessible and even if you conclude your hike there, you’ll enjoy the view. No wonder in peak wedding season, you’ll often find a bridal party posing for pictures here. The scent of sage and wildflowers add to the sensory sojourn. For those who are able, continue up the hill along a windy gravel path to gain a 360-degree view of the area. Strategically located en route are park benches where you can catch your breath, nosh on your snacks or simply drink in the view. At the top, you are rewarded for your effort by a picture-perfect panorama. Here you’ll see “Pen-Henge” – a series of small stones set out as a school project with the Okanagan Astronomical Society as Solstice and Equinox sunset markers. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see deer and other local wildlife.
Perched on Munson Mountain, you can reflect on your accomplishment or plot out your next adventures in the area. I love the vista this hike provides and that it is so conveniently located that no matter how busy your touring schedule, you can work in a bit of exercise.