There are a ton of awesome, super accessible waterfalls literally right on the side of the highway all over the place. But most of the time, you’d never know! Bananas, right? Take Hardy Falls in Peachland for example. It’s a beautiful little waterfall hidden in a canyon just off Highway 97 and Okanagan Lake. But unless you know what you’re looking for, you’d drive right on by and be none the wiser. But I wanna make you wiser.
Now, I’m not saying Hardy Falls is a huge secret or anything — it is a regional park, after all — but it’s not super obvious. Heck, I’ve lived in the Okanagan my entire life and only heard about it a few years ago. And that, my friends, is why it’s important to research your trips! Who knows how many amazing places you’ve driven by?
And remember, a waterfall adventure a day keeps the doctors away. At least, that’s what I like to tell myself.
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Table of Contents
- Trail Information for Hardy Falls
- What to Expect
- Plants + Wildlife
- Recommend Gear
- Final Notes
Trail Information for Hardy Falls
Hardy Falls is located in Hardy Falls Regional Park at the south end of Peachland. The regional park covers 6 hectares and stretches from Highway 97 all the way to the top of the canyon where the waterfall is located. There are a few picnic tables and a washroom near the trailhead. The trail to Hardy Falls is quite short, so this is a great place to enjoy a bite to eat and extend your adventure.
As you follow Peachland Creek (also called Deep Creek) up the canyon to Hardy Falls, you’re walking in the footsteps of history. For thousands of years, the Syilx People used these footpaths for trade. In 1811, Syilx guides introduced early Hudson Bay traders and settlers to the path, which later became part of the Fur Brigade Trail. Half a century later, the gold fever hit and men came to the valley with dreams of striking riches. The waterfall itself was later named after Harry Hardy who was one of the first orchardists in the West Kelowna area.
Did you know that Hardy Falls is one of the most accessible waterfalls in all of the Okanagan! Cool, eh?
The there-and-back trail to the waterfall is only about 1.5 km total and basically flat. It’s a great trail for those of you that are bananas for waterfalls like me. Plus, the trail is well maintained and the dirt is compact, so it’s totally doable with strollers or wheelchairs. Your wheels won’t stop you from seeing Hardy Falls!
And if a cool waterfall isn’t enough, Peachland Creek is also a spawning area for Kokanee, the Okanagan’s landlocked salmon. Come at the right time of year and you might just get to see them swimming upstream.
|Length||1.5 km, 0.9 mi|
|Duration||10 to 30 minutes|
|Elevation Stats||Hardy Falls Elevation Info (PDF)|
|Dog Friendly||Yes (on-leash)|
Honestly, a trail map for Hardy Falls isn’t really necessary. When you’re there, the trail is super clear and there’s zero chance of getting lost. But a map never hurt anyone, so it’s here if you wanna scout out your trip!
Brandon from Above Tumbler Ridge has created a beautiful drone video of Hardy Falls! He has a ton of other awesome waterfall and mountain videos over on his YouTube channel — they might just inspire some more adventures! I know they have for me.
Directions + Parking
Luckily, Hardy Falls is easy to find. It’s about 4 minutes from downtown Peachland and 30 minutes from Kelowna. The trailhead is located on Hardy Street, which is directly off Highway 97 and across the highway from Antlers Beach. There’s plenty of parking along Hardy Street, but it can fill up in the summer.
PS: Google may try to take you on a roundabout route from Kelowna. Don’t listen to it and stay on Highway 97 until you reach Hardy Street. If you try the route through Renfrew Road, you’ll end up at a dead-end and have to backtrack. I may or may not know that from experience…
What to Expect
Hardy Falls is a well-trafficked trail and is more of a walk than a hike. It doesn’t take long and you probably won’t get your heart rate up much, but that’s okay! It’s a great micro-adventure.
Besides, Hardy Falls is great all year long — you can escape the heat in the summer thanks to the shaded canyon or enjoy a magical frozen waterfall in the winter. Win-win!
You’ll cross eight bridges as you make your way along the wide trail to the final viewpoint. The bridges are a great place to watch the salmon make their way up the creek during the salmon run. During the rest of the year, you can usually spot birds frolicking in the water — even in the winter!
The bridges are well made and were installed in early 2019. Back in 2012, seven of the original bridges were replaced to improve safety, but only five years later they had to be replaced again because of unprecedented flooding that ripped through the park and left behind a ton of damage. Two years and $175,000 later, the park reopened in 2019.
There are also a few benches along the trail, usually near the bridges, that are a great place to kick back for a few minutes.
Hardy Falls Viewing Platform
You’ll reach a viewing platform where you can see Hardy Falls from a distance. The 3-meter tall waterfall tumbles down the canyon, crashing into a small pool. It’s not a perfect view, but it’s still pretty awesome! While I know most of us would love to get up close with the waterfall, there are few reasons you can’t: safety, restoration, and little salmonies.
- First off, your safety. In 2009, a rockslide filled the pool at the base of Hardy Falls and partially obscured the falls — you can still see that rockslide today. And because more rocks could easily come tumbling down, the platform is set back from the waterfall so that we don’t get hurt.
- The area is also in full restoration mode. Years ago, you could walk right up to the waterfall but that caused the soil to become compacted and erode. The restoration efforts aim to bring more vegetation to the area to help nature restore herself.
- But if you’re one of those people that doesn’t care about your own safety and wants to head upstream anyways, remember that salmon call the creek home. In the fall they lay eggs in the creek which can easily be disturbed if you or your pets walk in the creek. The salmon already contend with so much to reproduce, they don’t need people walking on their eggs.
I know it kinda sucks that you can’t go right up to the waterfall, but it is what it is. It’s important to respect these natural areas so that everyone can continue to enjoy them.
Plants + Wildlife
For such a small trail, Hardy Falls has a surprising amount of plants and wildlife. Because its a riparian zone — a place where land the water meet — it supports a whole host of diverse plants and animals. Yet another great reason to protect the area!
A whole host of plants call Hardy Falls home. Thanks to the Cottonwood trees that line the canyon, the trail along the creek is quite shaded and a great place to escape the summer heat. In the spring, wildflowers line the canyon walls and trailside which results in a beautiful walk! There are also mock orange trees that smell amazing when they’re in bloom.
Two of the most awe-worthy animals that can be spotted at Hardy Falls are Kokanee salmon and black bears. Of course, there is plenty of other wildlife such as mallards and carps that you can find as well.
From about mid-August to mid-October, Kokanee salmon make their way up Peachland Creek for spawning. Hardy Falls is a great place to watch the salmon make their journey because the fish are usually a little bigger than other creeks in the area. During this time, the salmon are bright red and easy to spot.
During the salmon run, an interpreter is often on the trails. It’s pretty interesting to talk with them and learn more about the salmon.
But where there are salmon, there are also bears. Can’t blame ‘em, salmon’s yummy.
Black bears sometimes wander into Hardy Falls Regional Park trying to fatten up for winter. Because of this, the park is sometimes closed during the fall for everyone’s safety. If you do see a bear, please respect it — don’t try to feed it or get a selfie. Just don’t. Instead, read up on your bear safety and leave ’em alone.
Hardy Falls is a short trail, but it’s still important to make sure you’re prepared. Sure, the packing list for this trail is a lot shorter than others, but that doesn’t make it less important!
- Water bottles: Are you surprised? I doubt it. Water is always important to have. Usually, I prefer water bladders over bottles, but since Hardy Falls is so short, a water bottle is enough. My favourite are reusable bottles like S’well and Hydroflask.
- Sunscreen: Always wear sunscreen! Protect your skin and it’ll thank you for years and years. I love natural sunscreens like All Good Sport Mineral Sunscreen.
- Picnic items: Whether you stop for a bite at Hardy Falls or cross the highway to Antlers Beach, this is a great area for a picnic! Grab a cooler, some utensils, a towel, and enjoy the day.
Hardy Falls is an awesome micro-adventure in Peachland. It’s a great place to enjoy a beautiful waterfall and to, y’know, get outta the house. Bring your kiddos, friends and family, or doggos to Hardy Falls for a fun adventure!