Knox Mountain (via Apex Trail)
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Time: 1 hour
Distance: 4.0 km (return)
Elevation Gain: 263 m
How To Get There: The trailhead is located on Knox Mountain Drive, just off of Broadway Avenue in downtown Kelowna.
One of the best things about this mountain is that it sits right inside Kelowna city limits and is incredibly easy to access. One of the downsides is that the upside makes it incredibly popular with tourists and local residents alike as it’s a great place for walking, running, hiking, biking, and birding. The park is open from 6 am to 10 pm daily, opens in the spring and closes in the fall. The trail sits in Knox Mountain Park and is Kelowna’s largest natural area. The mountain itself is home to several ecosystems as the park moves from lakeshore to mountain top and is fragile and highly susceptible to erosion and degradation. There is a very obvious trail and its necessary that people abide by it.
The trail starts at the lower parking lot (though you have the option of starting at the upper parking lot as well) and signage points you in the direction of a wide, very-well maintained dusty path that has a fence on what side and a grass knoll on the other.
I took the Apex trail where there are signs that explain the surrounding BigSage-Bluebunch Wheatgrass ecosystem.
Almost immediately I was overwhelmed by the gorgeous and constant sight of the Arrow Leaf Balsam Root, which also happens to be Kelowna’s official flower.
The trail winds this way and that, switching up a gentle grade. There were plenty of people on the trail but the area still had an air of peaceful tranquility to it as the sky was blue and the sun was bright.
There was another yellow plant that added to the colourful backdrop, though I'm not quite sure on it's name.
There are a few stairs that help you up the steeper part of the trail (though steep is relative). Spring was in the air and the trees were in full bloom.
As I worked my way up, the trail made it’s way around thin douglas-fir, past fences and up more flights of stairs.
After about ten minutes, I reached the second parking lot. Okanagan Lake and Kelowna was now visible in the background.
I continued past the white gate and continued up the Apex Trail.
There are several “off-trail” options at this point where people have created their own trail in order to start a short cut to the top.
There is a point a little more than halfway to the top where the lake can be seen in all its dark blue glory and I made sure to take a quick picture.
Then it was back to the trail, which continued to provide gorgeous shots of the city below, an abundance of the yellow flower marking my path.
A few switchbacks and a straight up climb brought me further up, the douglas-fir growing further sparse as I continued up the Apex trail.
There are several official trail options at this point where you can either take a more straight up route or a more passive direction switching up and around the remaining hill. As long as you follow the signs, you should have no problem reaching the top.
There is a set of longer stairs before you reach an intersection. Don’t go on the Pavilion Trail, stay loyal to Apex! Then one last staircase and you’re at that top.
There’s a lookout gazebo that provides welcome shade and a perfect spot to take pictures of the beautiful land below.
Expect a lot of foot traffic, especially at the top, as it’s a great place to take a break and enjoy the gorgeous blue of the lake that surrounds the city.
There are many options to get to the top of the mountain. I chose the Apex Trail but there is also the aforementioned Pavilion Trail, plus a few others. You can basically “choose your own adventure”. While the trail attracts a crowd, it’s still the perfect spot for a good workout and view of everything Kelowna has to offer. Take your kids, or your dog (on a leash), and enjoy it!