Floating down the Penticton River Channel on an inner tube isn’t the only way to travel in Penticton: wine lovers may tour a stretch of wineries from the Southern tip of Skaha Lake to the Naramata Bench’s rolling hills. The Bench’s wine tasting route begins near Munson Mountain Park and ends just outside of the quaint Town of Naramata. Splendid views of Lake Okanagan are complemented by a unique experience at each winery: one makes wine from many fruits other than grapes, another offers Bed & Breakfast accommodations and still others sell gifts and crafts made by local artisans. Penticton’s Sun, soil and climate make it a fertile wine growing region and magnet for palates seeking a taste of the sweet pleasures of life. Wine lovers may detour to Penticton-area restaurants or attend one of four annual Okanagan wine festivals in order to taste the wines of wineries on the Penticton wine route.
Hiking and Biking
Walking and biking are two ways to relax and keep fit, but the steep cliff drop-offs along the 3-kilometre, unpaved Carmi/Ellis Creek Trail may be stressful for some. If life on the edge still isn’t risky enough, one can walk to the Skaha Bluffs, rock climb and hang like a fly on the side of a cliff-face. A more peaceful option will be to walk, bike or wheelchair down the 3-kilometre, partly-paved Penticton River Channel Walkway that runs along the Penticton River Channel. The 2-kilometre partly-paved portion of the Trans-Canada Trail that bypasses beachgoers into Okanagan Inland Marine Heritage Park is another option. It’s also possible to walk the 5-kilometre Penticton Creek trail or access the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) network of walking and biking trails. There is no shortage of hiking and biking trails that can be explored, each providing its own thrills and unique views of Penticton and the surrounding countryside.
Penticton River Channel
Those aren’t frogs on lily pads floating down the Penticton River Channel that connects Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake. Every Summer, water bugs and sun worshippers can waste an hour or two paddling, spinning or slowly hovering from Riverside Park to where Skaha Lake begins. There are tube rental shops, but creative water lovers may use anything that floats to ride the gentle channel current on a hot Okanagan day. For a small fee, shuttle buses will transport floaters and their devices back to the top of the channel at the end of their lazy adventure. Life is just a dream when sipping a cold drink and rocking to sleep under the warm Penticton Summer Sun.
The smoke signals rising from fire pits spell ‘fun at the beach’ in Penticton. After floating on the Penticton River Channel, it might be fun to play on the lake at one of ten area beaches. Basketball, tennis and beach volleyball courts make it easy to let off some steam and work up a sweat before cooling off in Skaha Lake's warm waters. Dogs may accompany their masters and splash in the waters of Okanagan Lake, then run for a grassy area to dry off and picnic. Boat launches at several beaches provide boaters with an escape from dry land to enjoy the pleasures of life and the warm caress of a Summer breeze.
Kettle Valley Railway Trail
Biking the Kettle Valley Railway Trail to Penticton is a much better workout than driving by car on Highway 97. In the early 20th Century, the Kettle Valley Railway was one of the few ways for passengers to reach Penticton. Today, train tracks have been replaced with gravel trails that bikers can peddle: winding through tunnels carved from the mountains, over trestles spanning gaping canyons and through narrow, tree-lined passageways. An 80-kilometre portion of the trail connects Kelowna to Penticton at which point it winds through local wineries overlooking Lake Okanagan. Riders should be prepared to rest overnight at a Penticton hotel or motel and rest up or arrange for a pick-up in Penticton. After completing the trail, most will have only enough energy for more relaxing forms of recreation such as sleeping on the beach or floating down the Penticton River Channel.
Novice to advanced climbers can have some fun fighting gravity at the Skaha Bluffs in Penticton. For some, hanging like a fly on the wall is a better option than chasing a golf ball, floating down the channel or searching for the perfect wine. The Bluffs’ many climbing routes are located just South of Penticton and provide some eye-popping views of Skaha Lake and the surrounding area. One can drive to the Bluffs or reach it via a moderate uphill hike about one-hour in length through trees, desert lands and sagebrush. It’s wise to tackle the Skaha Bluffs before a restaurant meal since scaling the side of towering cliffs is sure to be a stomach-turning but thrilling experience.