CN Trail & Divide Lake, Okanagan Mountain Park

CN Trail & Divide Lake, Okanagan Mountain Park near Kelowna, BC


This trail was given a rating of 3 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 3 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 3 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 3 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 3 out of 5 stars
24 kms
9hours
difficult
Hiking
Summer, Fall, Spring
Kelowna, BC
User pugsley
This mostly double track, mostly uphill trail takes you up to Divide Lake.

On Sep 5 2010 I started at the north parking lot at the end of Lakeshore Road in Kelowna. 400 m elevation at the start, with an outhouse and kiosk with park map. After a short singletrack gradual rolling climb you drop down into Deeper Creek, from which a steep sktechy singletrack takes you back up all the elevation you just lost and then some. A trail junction and park map here clearly shows the way left to the Old CN Trail, which is a beautiful grassy singletrack trail that leads you to the Divide Lake Trail with another clear set of signs and map, but not before your last creek crossing & water source (needs filtering) for the trek up. Some maps say you've gone 3 km at this point, but the junction sign says 4 km. 1 1/2 hours at this point with full backpack on a semi-fit active 49 year old chick.

The Divide Lake Trail is easier to access via Rimrock Rd (see other posts re: Divide Lake Wildhorse Canyon) but it was nice starting out on the singletrack instead.

Divide Lake Trail is a boring relentless doubletrack -- an access road for the microwave tower up the mountain. Others have raved about this "trail" - go figure. I'm partial to singletrack and a more gradual climb that allows for views and using different muscle groups! Going up, there are no real views to speak of, so it was nice to have to rest every minute and look backwards at the gorgeous lake views -- you can see north to the end of Okanagan Lake, but never further south than Peachland. Saw a mule deer and a couple grouse, lots of coyote scat and some 1-4 day old bear scat, but not much else. Passed one trail runner and 2 other backpackers the whole way.

After 4 1/2 hours of relentless uphill, I finally turned a bend and saw the outhouse (very clean) and then the kiosk and hut marking Divide Lake. Divide Lake is very peaceful. A long skinny lake with a 6 or 8 m drop off, no 'beaches'. Near the hut (a shelter with no benches or stove) is a short access to the lake for nice clear water for filtering. There are 2 picnic tables with small clearings for tents, safe from the worst risks of post firestorm windfall. The double track continues past Divide Lake and I would have liked to explore it, but...read on...

Not feeling great from the start of the trip, and realizing I wasn't fit enough to do it within the timeline I'd left with nervous friends, I nixed my plan to do the full loop (Divide/Frederick/Good's Creek/Wildhorse) in 3 days, and thought I'd camp 2 nights at Divide Lake, explore from there for a day trip, and come back down Divide Lake 'trail'. I soon nixed the 2nd night...on arriving at Divide Lake it started to pour slush while setting up my tent, and that turned into a couple hours of cold rain. The only other 2 people there had absconded the hut for themselves, and were drunk and kissy kissy, so I just layered up and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon/evening. The clouds cleared by 9 pm and I got to enjoy the stars and the milky way.

Oh, there's no bear cache, so take a rope and you'll find a dead branch on one of the remaining firestormed trees to swing your food over.

Slept with most of my clothes on, toque and mits, but halfway through the night was warm enough to strip down to the essentials. A beautiful clear night soon turned to solid grey clouds when I woke up, so I packed, had a quick breakfast (thank you Starbucks Via instant coffee!), and started back down the way I came.

It was a tough trek down on my unprepared legs, and I was thankful for my hiking poles and for my camera which gave me plenty of excuses for short breaks to record the gorgeous view. I took a short break at about 1000 m and while soaking up the view was visited by a shy ermine still in its brown summer coat. What a treat! There was also fresh coyote scat regularly on the road, but I never saw any other sign of them.

Back on the CN Trail it was a real treat to be back on single track. Saw some steaming bear scat and decided it was time to start singing some hiking tunes. Going down I wished I had parked at Rimrock instead of the north parking lot. I knew that the steep descent into Deeper Creek was going to be painful, slippy, and wobbly, and it was! All in all it took me almost as long to descend, albeit with a longer break and lots of picture taking, as it did to ascend the trail.

Would I do it again? Not on my own -- would like to share more of the weight with someone next time, & would only go to Divide again in order to do the full loop. Up and down Divide might be worthwhile for dayhikers that like to fish. But not enough interest on the trail to grab my love. Doing it once, and enjoying the views on the way down, is worth it though.

Directions:

In Kelowna, drive south on Lakeshore (being careful to take the right at the lights to continue on Lakeshore rather than going up Chute Lake Road) until you get to the Park parking lot and trailhead. You can't miss it. If you haven't seen it yet, keep driving :)

Alternately go left onto Rimrock off of Lakeshore and start from there. See other posts for better instructions for this route.

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Please check the bottom of the Description (above left; click) for the author's written directions.

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