If you are looking for some fun, easy hikes near Keremeos or Osoyoos, (in BC, Canada) I highly recommend driving up Mt. Kobau. Your vehicle will do most of the hard work for you, so you start above 1800m. There are two easy hiking trails that have incredible views. Mount Kobau finishes with panoramas of the Okanagan Valley while the Chopaka Lookout allows vistas of the Similkameen valley and Mount Chopaka in Washington.
Mount Kobau & Chopaka Lookout trail map
I’ve included a map with both trails below. Mount Kobau is a super-short out-and-back trail, while the route to Chopaka Lookout is a loop. You can see my strava recording here.
Mount Kobau & Chopaka Lookout – The basics
Distance: 4.8km (1.3km for just Mount Kobau)
Elevation gain: 120m-ish (only 30m for Mount Kobau)
High Point: 1873m
Time: 1 hour (20-30 minutes for just Mount Kobau)
What to bring: The 10 essentials, and bring bear spray
Facilities: A loo at the trailhead.
Dogs: Dogs are allowed (on leash as there are cows that can be aggressive around dogs)
How hard is it? Super easy for Mount Kobau and easy for Chopaka Lookout
Extra notes: These grasslands are the home of rare wildlife. Tread lightly and stay on trail to minimize disturbance and prevent the spread of unwanted plant species.
Mount Kobau – Getting Started
To get to the trailhead you need to drive for 20km, (around 40 minutes) or up Mt Kobau FSR (turn off Highway 3 just around the corner from Spotted Lake or kłlilx’w ) The road was in good shape, so you don’t need 4WD, but it is bumpy! Once you make it up, the trailhead has an obvious area to park with a back-country toilet and even sign posts for the hikes.
Get ready for wildlife
Mount Kobau is part of the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area, which “protects all known Canadian sites of at least three plant species and habitat for an astonishing number of rare and endangered birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.” (from the BC Parks website.)
In addition to the rare species, you are very likely to see cows, so give them plenty of room. We saw a black bear on the drive up. Bighorn sheep also live in this area.
Hike up to the Fire Lookout
We did the short hike up to Mount Kobau first. This is very short (it’ll probably take less than 10mins!) You descend a little, then hike up a small bump to reach the summit where there used to be a fire lookout.
You need to walk through the burned trees left from the devastation of the 2015 Testalinden Creek fire. There is quite a lot of re-growth of flowers, but not many new saplings yet. It must take a long time for trees to re-establish themselves in this arid microclimate.
Once you reach the top of the bump, there are fabulous views of the Okanagan Valley and the bright green vineyards below.
This was my easiest peak-bag of the year!
There is a bench at the top. You can see the views down to Osoyoos (and Osoyoos lake) and the bright white Spotted Lake. It is a gorgeous view.
I’ll include a couple of panoramas. One is from the drive up, and the other is from the summit of Mount Kobau. It really shows how the scenery of the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area is totally different to other parts of BC.
On to Chopaka Lookout!
The next hike is in the opposite direction from the trailhead. Hike back to where you parked and then continue along the narrow trail into the sagebrush.
This route allows you to peek down the opposite side of the mountain, into the Similkameen valley (and the road to Keremeos.) I loved being able to see the Similkameen river wind along the the base of the valley.
The trail follows a route the rolls over the hills in between sagebrush. There must be oodles of wildflowers here in the springtime.
You need to descend around 50m, then climb back up for the next fabulous viewpoint.
I can’t resist adding some more panoramas so you can an idea of how expansive the views are.
Once you have taken in the incredible views, follow the loop back to the trailhead.
It is great to know that there is great hiking near Osoyoos and Keremeos as well as all the wine! We did this at the end of our road trip over to Waterton Lakes, so this was one of the easiest hikes we’d done. Still it is very impressive how amazing the scenery can be for so little effort! If you are looking for an easy, but incredible Okanagan hike, look no further!