Everything You Need to Know About Hiking at the Enderby Cliffs
The Enderby Cliffs hike is iconic in the North Okanagan — and a local favourite! The foot-shaped cliffs tower 850 m above the Shuswap River and can be seen for miles around. From the top, you can enjoy an amazing panoramic view of the Shuswap and Okanagan Valley. It’s one of my favourite views in the area and will blow you away!
Whether you tackle this challenging 12.8 km hike or are simply driving by, it’s impossible to overlook the Enderby Cliffs. If you’re interested in visiting this beautiful provincial park, you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading for details including an elevation breakdown, trail map, detailed trip report, gear suggestions, and more.
Trail Information for the Enderby Cliffs
The Enderby Cliffs is one of my favourite hikes in the Okanagan. And with so many amazing hikes in the valley, that’s really saying something! Most people do this hike in about 3 to 6 hours, but you can also go backcountry camping at the Enderby Cliffs.
I’ve hiked the Enderby Cliffs since I was a kid and it never gets old. The trail is always just as hard and beautiful as it was the first time. Maybe that says more about my fitness level than the hike, but I stand by it.
Enderby Cliffs Hiking Notes
Use this information to plan your hike! Things like difficulty and duration vary person to person, but I’ve included other information such as elevation gain and length to help you decide if the Enderby Cliffs trail is a good trail for you.
|Length||12.8 km, 8 mi|
|Duration||3 to 6 hours|
|Trail Type||Linear, there-and-back|
|Elevation Stats||Enderby Cliffs Elevation Info (PDF)|
|Trail Map||Enderby Cliffs Trail Map (PDF)|
|GPS Files||GPX, KML, AllTrails|
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Directions to the Enderby Cliffs
Enderby Cliffs Provincial Park is located just outside of Enderby, a small rural town in the North Okanagan. It’s about 30 minutes from Salmon Arm and Vernon, 1.5 hours from Kelowna and Kamloops, and 5.5 hours from Vancouver.
Once you’re in Enderby, follow Cliff Avenue across the bridge. Continue straight ahead for 1.4 km as the road morphs into Enderby Mable Lake Road. Turn left onto Brash Allen Road and stay on it for 3 km until you reach the parking lot. Brash Allen Road is dirt and often has potholes, but most vehicles have no trouble on it.
The parking lot for the Enderby Cliffs is well marked and maintained. It’s a large, one-way paved circle with room for about 40 vehicles. There are outhouses here, so make sure you use them because there aren’t any on the trail.
When to Visit the Enderby Cliffs
Luckily for you, Enderby Cliffs Provincial Park is open year-round! It’s only serviced from April 3 to October 25, but you can still enjoy a hike no matter the time of year. Each season will offer a completely different experience, so get out there and check it out.
I love hiking the Enderby Cliffs in the spring! It’s a nice temperature, the wildflowers are blooming, and the mosquitos aren’t out in full force yet (but bug spray is still a good idea). The trail is usually muddy and you’ll probably run into snow. Conditions can vary quite a bit, so bring layers, wear waterproof hiking boots, and bring a few pairs of socks in case yours get wet.
Hiking in Enderby Cliffs in the summer is a beast. You’ll be sweating in no time! It’s a long hike and there’s almost no water on the trail, so pack plenty of water and learn how to stay hydrated in the heat. The mosquitos can get pretty bad, so load up on bug spray. The trail won’t be muddy, so runners or boots with moisture-wicking socks are the best.
Hiking the Enderby Cliffs in autumn is absolutely wonderful! The trees turn a stunning array of red, orange, and yellow and the crisp air is refreshing. You won’t need to worry about snow until late autumn, but it’s still important to pack layers like a light jacket or toque.
The winter is a great time to hike the Enderby Cliffs! The outhouses are closed and the trail isn’t maintained, but there’s still plenty to enjoy. The trail will be covered in snow and ice, so you’ll need crampons, warm layers, and hiking poles. For more detailed information about staying safe and warm in the winter, check out my winter hiking tips.
Plants + Wildlife
There are lots of different plants and animals in Enderby Cliffs Provincial Park. The area is a transitional zone between the North Okanagan Highlands and North Thompson Uplands, making it a unique ecosystem in the Okanagan.
As you explore the Enderby Cliffs, you’ll hike through groves of beautiful birch and aspen that transition into cedar, hemlock, and fir trees. You’ll hike through lush wilderness, volcanic rock, and fossil sites on your way to the top. You’ll probably have to climb over fallen trees every once in a while. In the spring, enjoy the stunning fields of wildflowers!
As for wildlife, many animals call the mountain home and you need to be aware of them. Grizzly bears, moose, and cougars live in the area. Having said that, you probably won’t encounter any large animals because the trail is well trafficked. Still, always bring bear spray and practice bear safety, just in case. There are also lots of smaller animals, like deer, eagles, raptors, and squirrels.
History of Enderby Cliffs Provincial Park
The Enderby Cliffs were established as a provincial park in March 2006 to protect the iconic foot-shaped cliffs and unique ecosystem. However, the area has a history that spans back a lot more than a few decades.
Ecological + Geological
The cliffs themselves were formed when glaciers slowly carved out the 50-million-year-old lava field many years ago.
Back in the 1900’s, a seam of coal was found near the cliffs. The area became pretty active for a bit, but there wasn’t a lot of coal and it was all extracted within a few years.
Splatsin First Nations
The Enderby Cliffs area is sacred to the local Splatsin First Nations and they have a rich history in the area. In fact, they still use the area for hunting, gathering wild mushrooms, and accessing the mountains!
Years ago, the Enderby Cliffs trail was quite difficult but in 2010 the Splatsin First Nations, BC Parks, and the Shuswap Trail Alliance joined together and upgraded it. The new trail is easier and has more viewpoints than the original but it’s quite a bit longer. You’ll see evidence of the old trail, but please stay off it so the area can recover.
Hiking the Enderby Cliffs
Hiking the Enderby Cliffs isn’t for the faint of heart. But with enough stubbornness and will power, you can reach the top even if you’re not an avid hiker. It’s a 12.8 km round trip and usually takes between 3 to 6 hours. The trail is well maintained and thanks to orange trail markers, you won’t lose your way.
The Enderby Cliffs trail is hiking-only, so unfortunately horseback riding isn’t allowed. Your dogs are welcome, though! They just need to be kept on leashes and cleaned up after.
The Tplaqin Trail
The hiking trail at the Enderby Cliffs is called the Tplaqin Trail. Tplaqin which means “cliff” in Secwepemc, the local First Nation’s traditional language.
The Tplaqin Trail trailhead is directly across the road from the parking lot. The trail runs parallel to a private driveway before heading into the trees and crossing the park boundary. Please respect the owners and stay off their driveway.
Once you’ve passed through the fence that marks the boundary to the provincial park, you’ll immediately enter the mature forest. Even though this first section isn’t overly steep as it follow as old logging road, it’s a steady uphill climb that’ll have you sweating in no time. It’s a great intro to the trail because that’s exactly what most of the Enderby Cliffs hike is like. Slow and steady wins the race!
The Shrine Rest Area
Just before the 2 km marker, there’s a small rest area and bench that’s unofficially called the Shrine. There’s a large wooden cross here that marks the trail leaving the old logging road. Years ago, there was also a crucifix that was carved by villagers from Germany.
The area is often muddy and home to lots of mosquitos. If you’re lucky enough to enjoy the bench, savour it because it’s not always the best place to hang out.
The rest area marks the beginning of the large, gentle switchbacks that bring you up to the top of the Enderby Cliffs. When you come down, the Shrine lets you know your hike is almost over. It’s a pretty useful landmark.
The Shuswap Lookout
After leaving the Shrine, you’ll begin a steady uphill climb and you’ll soon reach the Shuswap Lookout. It’s the first major lookout on the Enderby Cliffs trail.
The Shuswap Lookout is just over 2 km from the trailhead and is a great place to take a break and enjoy the view. You’ve gained about 220 m in elevation and the Okanagan Valley stretches below you, dotted with fields and patches of forest. The Shuswap Lookout isn’t much more than a break in the trees, though, and there isn’t room to sit without blocking the path.
Time to keep moving!
Shuswap to Larch Hills Lookout
Between the Shuswap and Larch Hills lookouts, just before the 3 km marker, a few large boulders line the path. They’re fun (and difficult) to climb! But don’t fall. The hike back down would be rough with an injury.
There isn’t much water on the Enderby Cliffs, but you can find some here during the spring thanks to the small wetland. If you have a water filter, you can top up your water. Small streams occasionally trickle over the trail and you’ll have to carefully navigate the mud. Don’t forget your bug spray!
Larch Hills Lookout
The second viewpoint on the Enderby Cliffs trail is the Larch Hills Lookout, located at the 3 km marker. You’ve gained 338 m since the trailhead and are halfway to the summit — that’s no small feat, be proud of yourself!
The view of the Okanagan Valley from the Larch Hills Lookout is absolutely phenomenal! It’s a wonderful place to take a break and refuel. Sit near the edge, eat your snacks, and let the cool breeze wash over you. This lookout is well-trod and is often the end point for people that don’t want to hike to the summit of the Enderby Cliffs.
Larch Hills to the Enderby Cliffs Summit
You’re in the home stretch! About a kilometer after the Larch Hills Lookout, you’ll hike through a cedar grove and then head uphill via a series of tight switchbacks. Before you know it, you’ve reached the top of the mountain! But you’re not done yet.
As you hike along the top of the mountain, the trail comes uncomfortably close to the cliff’s edge. Parts of it have even tumbled away over the years! These sections can be pretty unstable, even fatal, so stick to the far edge of the trail.
As you climb, you’ll pass one amazing viewpoint after another. My favourite is the first because it sits eye-level with the iconic Enderby Cliffs and offers an amazing view of the Okanagan Valley and foot-shaped cliffs. All of these viewpoints are great places to stop for a lunch break.
Enderby Cliffs Summit
Continue along the edge of the mountain and you’ll soon reach the summit of the Enderby Cliffs! It’s unmarked, but you’ll know when you’ve reached the summit. It’s a large gravel area on the far end of the cliffs. You can see for miles up and down the Okanagan Valley and you’ll feel like you’ve reached the top of the world.
At the summit of the Enderby Cliffs, you’ve gained almost 900 m in elevation! The views are absolutely breathtaking. The Shuswap River winds leisurely along the valley floor as it connects Grindrod, Enderby, and Ashton Creek. In the summer, it’s a popular float for locals and tourists. Fields create a patchwork quilt and you can watch birds joyride on the updrafts created from the Enderby Cliffs.
Once you’re done enjoying the gorgeous views, you’ll return the same way you came. The trail does continue on to Reeves Lake, but that’s a story for another time.
Since the Enderby Cliffs is a full day hike and fairly difficult, it’s important to be prepared before you head out. In addition to the ten hiking essentials that you should always pack, the following gear will make your hike a lot more enjoyable — and safe!
- Water: Bring lots of water! There isn’t much water on the trail, so you’ll need to pack enough for your hike. I prefer hydration packs instead of water bottles because it’s easier to stay hydrated. Consider electrolyte tablets, too, so you can keep up your energy.
- Bear spray: I always carry bear spray. The wilderness is full of animals and it’s better to be over-prepared than under. In BC, bears, cougars, and other large animals call the mountains home. Even with bear spray, remember that there’s a lot more to bear safety than just carrying bear spray.
- Foot care: Hiking all day can really wear on your feet. Make sure your feet are prepared by wearing proper boots, quality socks, and taping any problem areas.
- Bug spray: Bug spray is a good idea because some spots are pretty mosquito ridden.
Since the Enderby Cliffs is a longer and fairly difficult trail, it’s also a good idea to bring the ten hiking essentials to make sure you’re safe.
Final Thoughts on the Enderby Cliffs
The Enderby Cliffs is my favourite hike in the Okanagan! It offers spectacular views that you won’t find anywhere else and truly rewards you for your perseverance. It’s difficult, but with enough will power all ages can enjoy it.
After you’ve hiked the Enderby Cliffs, check out these nearby activities!
- Enderby River Float: A beautiful, natural river that you can float on in the summer.
- Kay Falls: A hidden, easy-to-reach waterfall between Sicamous and Revelstoke.
- Mara Provincial Park: A day-use park that’s great for water activities like boating, kayaking, SUP, and canoeing.
- Sicamous Lookout: A drive-up viewpoint with an amazing view of the North Okanagan.