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Okanagan

Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park in Kelowna

These days, I’m always on the hunt for panoramic views of the Okanagan. A few years ago, back when I first moved to Kelowna, Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park was one of the first places I explored. And man, the views of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake from the park are just spectacular. It’s something you have to see for yourself!

There are so many beautiful places in the world, but the more I explore the Okanagan, the more I can’t believe what we have right here at home. The Okanagan really is an outdoor lover’s paradise and it’s places like this that really make me appreciate our piece of BC.

Trail Information

DifficultyCedar Trail: Easy
Unnamed: Moderate
Crags Trail: Easy
Lebanon Creek: Moderate
Elk Trail: Moderate
Length (one-way)Cedar Trail: 0.4 km, 0.2 mi
Unnamed: ~ 1 km, 0.6 mi
Crags Trail: 1.1 km, 0.7 mi
Lebanon Creek: 3.25 km, 2 mi
Elk Trail: 3.7 km, 2.3 mi
Terrain StatsCedar Trail: Download PDF
Unnamed: Download PDF
Crags Trail: Download PDF
Lebanon Creek: Download PDF
Elk Trail: Download PDF
GPX FileDownload GPX, GeoJSON, and KML files
Beautiful views of Okanagan Lake and Kelowna from the hiking trails at Johns Family Nature Conservancy in the Upper Mission.
Sam from Explore the Map stands near the cliff edge in Kelowna on a smoky day.
Young woman stands near a cliff edge with a walking stick and view of Okanagan Lake.

Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park

Phew, that name is a mouthful. I usually just refer to the park as Johns Family. Much easier. In 2013, the park was named after Alfred and Nancy Johns, Kelowna locals who generously donated 323 hectares of land for wildlife conservation. It was the largest land donation in the Central Okanagan’s history! Before the Johns’ donation, the once-smaller park was called Cedar Mountain Regional Park.

As you hike through the park, you’ll notice it’s hot and barren, covered in burnt trees. Wondering what happened? Well, back in August 2003, a bolt of lighting started a devastating fire on Okanagan Mountain. The rampant wildfire quickly spread and burned over 25,000 hectares of forest near Kelowna. Over 27,000 people were evacuated and it continued to burn for weeks.

Even though the fire was over 15 years ago, nature takes a long time to repair itself. Because of the rocky land, which has almost no soil or water, the process is even slower. Trees have barely come back, but small shrubs have managed to grow and provide habitat for wildlife.

Jacob from Explore the Map hikes at on the trail at Johns Family Park with a view of Okanagan Lake in the background.
Portrait of a smiling man at the summit of the Crags at Johns Family Regional Park in Kelowna with views of Okanagan Lake in the background
Jacob from Explore the Map walks along the base of the bluff at a regional park in the Upper Mission, Kelowna.

Hiking at Johns Family Park

There’s a decent sized network of hiking trails at Johns Family. Even though most of the park is off-limits because the landscape is so frail, there are about 8 km of official trails, plus a few kilometers of unofficial trails, for you to explore. One of the trails, Lebanon Creek, even connects with Lebanon Creek Greenway Regional Park!

The official trails are very well maintained and marked. Like most regional parks in Kelowna, there are also some great interpretive signs along the way. Barren of trees, the unparalleled view of the valley draws surprisingly few visitors because the area is relatively unknown, even to locals. In fact, the area is most well known for rock climbing, not hiking.

Cedar Trail, 0.4 km (Easy)

The Cedar Trail is a short trail that connects the Elk and Crags Trails. It features two sets of wooden stairs and an outhouse near the southern trailhead. The trail cuts through a barren hillside with the Crags (a large rock face) looming in front of you.

Crags Trail, 1.1 km (Easy)

The Crags Trail is a relatively flat trail that follows the entire base of the Crags. You’ll get an up close and personal view of the large rock as you hike along. You might even see some rock climbers here! About halfway through the trail there’s a trail that heads straight up the cliff. You can take this trail to get to the top of the Crags without rock climbing gear, but it’s sketchy. Be very careful. There’s an easier way to get to the top.

Lebanon Creek Trail, 3.25 km (Moderate)

The Lebanon Creek Trail is one of the longest hikes at Johns Family Park. It skirts the Crag and heads downhill, eventually connecting with the parking lot at Lebanon Creek Regional Park. It’s a beautiful trail and on a sunny day, you can enjoy amazing views down Okanagan Lake towards Vernon.

One of the hiking trails at Johns Family Park in Kelowna, BC.
Remnants of the Okanagan Mountain Fire at the base of the bluff at Johns Family Nature Conservancy in the central Okanagan with a smoky sky.
Looking upwards at the Crags at Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park

Elk Trail, 3.7 km (Moderate)

The Elk Trail is the longest at Johns Family Park. This trail begins at the parking lot and continue to the far west edge of the park. It’s a barren, hot, and dry trail with a decent amount of elevation change. You’ll also enjoy great views of the Crag, Okanagan Lake, and the nearby homes.

Unnamed Trail (Moderate to Difficult)

There are a few unnamed trails at Johns Family that bring you to the top of the Crags. These are my favourite trails in the park because of the absolutely amazing views! Even though the trails aren’t maintained by the regional district, they’re usually pretty obvious. Since this isn’t an official trail, watch your step carefully so that you aren’t damaging the terrain even more.

The views from these unofficial trails are the best in the park. There are two main trails to the summit: A sketchy trail up the front of the Crags that you can access via the Crags Trail and a longer, safer route up the side that you can access via the Lebanon Creek Trail. If you opt for the sketchy route, be extremely careful. It’s short, but very steep, awkward, and difficult. If you don’t think you can do it, remember that there’s a safer route.

Jacob from Explore the Map sits in the stone chairs near the firepit at the summit of the Johns Family Park hike in Kelowna. Amazing viewpoint with views of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake.
Sam from Explore the Map stands at the top of the bluffs at the Johns Family Park hiking area in Okanagan Mountain Park with a very smoky sky
Man stands at the summit of Johns Family on a sunny day

Spectacular Views

There are great views from all the trails at Johns Family Park, but the best are from the summit of the Crags. Here, you get to enjoy sweeping views of the Okanagan! The 2003 forest fire burned most of the trees, so you can see for miles up and down the valley on a sunny day.

There’s also a fire pit and rocky chairs at the top of the mountain! Sure, the chairs are super uncomfortable but the views are worth it.

The firepit and chairs at the Johns Family Nature Conservancy hike with views of Kelowna, West Kelowna, and Okanagan Lake.
Sam and Jacob from Explore the Map a the summit of the hike at Johns Family Nature Conservancy in Kelowna, BC.
Woman explores the summit of Johns Family Park on a smoky summer day

Gear Suggestions

When you’re deciding on what to bring on your hike, it’s always important to know where you’re headed.

Johns Family is a very dry, exposed hike — especially in the summer — so you’ll need to be prepared for the heat and sun. Hydration packs will be your best friend. Sunscreen is also very important, as are sunglasses. You’ll also want hiking boots because the trails are rocky and the climb up the bluff is quite difficult.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission on every purchase at no cost to you! If you online shop, I’d appreciate it if you used my links, but I won’t pressure you. Thank you so much!

View from the summit of the Johns Family Nature Conservancy hike in Kelowna, looking south down the Okanagan valley.

Final Notes

Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park in Kelowna is a great family friendly hike for all ages. There are many well maintained trails to explore, as well as an outhouse within the loops. For the most part, the trails are quite easy. The only difficult section is the steep trail to the summit that requires careful attention because it would be very easy to fall.

The area is also popular with rock climbers.

Directions

Johns Family Regional Park is located roughly 20 minutes from downtown Kelowna on Okanagan Mountain. It’s just outside of the Village of Kettle Valley subdivision in Kelowna. To reach the parking lot at the trail head, you’ll have to drive up a pot-hole riddled dirt road. Go slow and take a vehicle that can handle rough roads.

Have you hiked here? What did you think? Let me know!

2 Comments

  • April Carlson
    April 26, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    This looks like a great place for a hike. Loved your photo of the view with the burned trees in the foreground.

    Reply
    • Sam
      April 26, 2017 at 8:04 pm

      Thank you! It’s a beautiful hike for sure

      Reply

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