Sitting on the edge of the Sicamous Lookout ramp, we soak in the beauty of the North Okanagan-Shuswap. Mara and Shuswap Lakes sparkle to the southwest, beckoning us with their summer fun of wakeboarding, tubing, and house boating. Sicamous nestles on their shores, surrounded by fields and gently sloping mountains. We have a deep love for the Okanagan Valley and I’m sharply reminded why people flock here year-round.
The gorgeous Instagram photos drew us in, setting a destination for our spur-of-the-moment, mini road trip. I’d been itching to check out the secluded viewpoint for a while and when we decided to go to the Starlight Drive-In, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to explore the Sicamous Lookout.
Why is there a platform so far up the mountain?
The Sicamous Lookout was originally built as a take-off platform for hang gliders and is still widely used today. Sicamous has long been a hot spot for hang gliding and even hosted two national Canadian competitions in the 70’s and early 80’s. The current ramp was restored in 2011 by volunteers for the Sicamous Hang Gliding Reunion; this was the third time it had been rebuilt due to age and heavy vandalism.
More of an off-road experience than an actual hike, this is a great way to experience superb views without much work. It’s not often these views are possible without hiking for hours.
Driving to the Sicamous Lookout
As we leave the Trans-Canada Highway and head towards the mountain, I’m reminded of my childhood and the dirt roads we used to explore. Moving to the city has certainly limited the ease of those adventures and I can’t help but reflect on that: perhaps that’s why we’ve taken to hiking more strongly than ever before.
We rumble over a train track (it’s been so long since we’ve seen one of those!) and less than a kilometer later begin our bouncy, pothole-riddled drive up the mountain. We’re wary of meeting other vehicles on the narrow, active logging road. The road is extremely well maintained and we have no difficulty navigating the 8.5km in our SUV. Halfway up we meet a small car; they drive slow but manage the road fine.
Within ten minutes, we’ve already gained hundreds of feet in elevation and, between trees, we glimpse the beautiful valley below us. The road winds its way along the mountainside, but more often than not we’re far from the edge, which I’m thankful for. Too often have I driven on the edge of a gut-wrenching cliff, forcing my eyes closed from the sickening height, too panic-stricken to enjoy the views (no, I wasn’t in the driver’s seat!). Thankfully, this road is nothing like those and we easily navigate it.
The road is dusty and our car is soon a glorious light brown, the colour of adventure. I feel like we’re cheating, not truly earning our view.
Reaching the Sicamous Lookout
The Lookout sneaks up on us; we pass a clear-cut section of the forest, round a few bends, and barely notice the ramp hanging over the edge of the road. The only reason I spot it is because of the Google Map marker we pass. The road is narrow and we drive 500m further, where we find a great place to turn around and park.
The car in front of us pulls over, clearly confused about where the lookout is; we point them in the right direction as we begin the short 1km round trip walk to the ramp.
As we approach the Sicamous Lookout, the spectacular blue sky shines through the trees and the trail appears to disappear over the edge of the mountain. The ramp, which is hidden from the road, wows us as we descend to it. There is some graffiti, but for the most part it’s in good repair and we feel safe walking to the edge (if not a little scared from the height). A light breeze washes over us as we relax on the wooden platform and hungrily take in the view before us.
Thirty minutes later, we pack up and head back down the mountain. Next time, I’ll pack a picnic.
Location & Information
The view from the Sicamous Lookout of Sicamous and the surrounding lakes is absolutely gorgeous and well worth a detour off the Trans-Canada highway. This is more of an off-roading experience than a hike, so make sure your vehicle is able to drive on gravel roads The road is well maintained, but it is an active logging road; always give right-of-way to logging trucks and drive slowly.
To see more photos of the Sicamous Lookout, visit our SmugMug gallery.
Hiking Distance: < 1 km
Duration: ~ 1hr
Notes: Google Maps will easily lead up the mountain and it’s your best resource for correctly navigating the road. We had cell service the entire way (on Bell). It took us about 20 minutes from turning off the Trans-Canada to reach the Sicamous Lookout.
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