If there’s a more well-known hike that’s loved by locals than Paul’s Tomb, I don’t know what it is. You’ll always find at least one hiker or runner on the trail, no matter the time of the year. And if you ask a Kelowna local where you should hike, nine times out of ten* they’ll say Paul’s Tomb or Knox Mountain. Spoiler alert: those two hikes are basically the same thing because Paul’s Tomb is on Knox Mountain.
Does that make it boring? Definitely not! It’s loved for a reason. Not only does the trail have gorgeous views of the surrounding valley and Okanagan Lake, it also has an interesting local, Kelowna history.
*I totally made up that stat, but it’s surprisingly true!
What to expect
Paul’s Tomb is located on Knox Mountain — but you already knew that — which is only five minutes from downtown Kelowna. Knox Mountain is perhaps the most well-known park in Kelowna and countless paths crisscross the mountain. There’s also plenty of beach access along the mountain and Paul’s Tomb trail leads to one such beach.
The trail is easy, perfectly maintained, and wonderful no matter the season — although it’s best in the spring and fall. You’ll hike along the base of Knox Mountain, all the while enjoying stunning views of Okanagan Lake. I have a soft spot for all hikes with views of the lake. It’s just so damn pretty!
And before you ask, yes, there is actually a tomb on this hike. It’s not super obvious — I didn’t see it for years — so if you do spot it, only take photos and always be respectful.
Paul’s Tomb trail is just over 4 km return and usually takes about an hour or so. The trail can be accessed from either of the following trailheads: the end of Popular Point Drive (30 m elevation change) or the first lookout on Knox Mountain (100 m elevation change). The latter is the most popular starting point, although it does include a bit of a steep hill at the beginning. The main excitement of this hike isn’t the tomb itself, but rather the beautiful lake views and secluded beach at the end.
The trail is wide and extremely well maintained, which makes it great for all ages! You won’t have to worry about tripping over a root here; however, that does mean there’s very little tree cover. In the heat of summer, you’ll start sweating very quickly so make sure you stay hydrated!
The views of both Okanagan Lake and Knox Mountain are amazing from the trail. Okanagan Lake is often a sparkling blue and in the summer, boats zigzag along the water. Deer live on Knox Mountain, so it’s very likely you’ll spot one on your hike. And remember to keep an eye out for the Ogopogo, the giant lake serpent that supposedly lives in Okanagan Lake!
There are a few steep-ish hills throughout the hike, but they don’t require any scrambling. Other people can also easily pass you on the trail, so don’t worry about going at any speed other than what you’re comfortable with. There are many benches throughout the trail, which are great for both catching your breath and simply enjoying the view! Remember to be a thoughtful trail user and share the path and its amenities with others.
Paul’s Tomb Park
You’ll know when you’ve reached the end because the trail opens up into a little park with a picnic table and clearing. The trail splits into two and loops around the clearing while hugging the lake. If you want to see the tomb, look to your right up the hill where there’s a small, short path.
A small, secluded beach is located here and it’s usually quiet because it has to be hiked or kayaked to. It’s a great alternative to Kelowna’s City Park, which is often packed with people in the summer. Buoys line the beach and keep boaters out of the area. A set of wooden stairs near the beach leads to Lochview Trail, which is another wonderful, slightly harder hike along Okanagan Lake.
The left-hand side of the loop brings you to a rocky outcropping and a secondary trail leads down to the water. The rocks are a wonderful place to watch the sunset over Okanagan Lake!
Paul’s Tomb is a very popular trail, yet the park itself isn’t usually crowded. Many people enjoy the hike in, take a walk around the loop, and head back. Sometimes families enjoy sports in the clearing or play with their pets. It’s most popular in the spring, summer, and fall, although you can still enjoy the trail in the winter.
Why is it called Paul’s Tomb?
The trail is named after Rembler Paul because he built a tomb for his family near their summer cabin on Okanagan Lake. They were avid gardeners and many of the lilacs and irises you see were originally planted by the Pauls. After you’ve hiked around Knox Mountain, it’s easy to see why he chose it as his and his family’s final resting place.
Paul’s wife Elizabeth was the first to be laid to rest in the family tomb when she died of cancer in 1914 at the age of 83. Paul moved to Edmonton after she passed and died shortly after in 1916 at the age of 85. He was laid to rest beside his wife and was the last of his family to use the tomb.
The tomb itself was built 100 feet above Okanagan Lake and 100 yards from the shore. It’s made of 16-inch concrete, can accommodate eight coffins, and is roughly 15-feet long and 9-feet wide. Sadly, vandals broke into the tomb and the door has since been covered with soil. Only a small, 18-inch section of the arched door can be seen today.
Who was Rembler Paul?
Paul was born in Montreal in 1832 and slowly moved out west because he found his apprenticeship in printing too boring. He had a strong, caring personality and was a successful entrepreneur. He was particularly interested in real estate and mining. Paul owned St. Paul Gold mine in Monashee, BC, a silver mine in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and a coal mine in Bancroft, Ontario. He also owned 3,000 acres near Regina where he had horses, small farm animals, and 300 acres of grain. Talk about successful!
In 1905, Paul moved to Kelowna. He married his wife Elizabeth and they had a son here in the beautiful Okanagan. They spent three winters in Tuscan, Arizona and afterwards made Kelowna their permanent home. Paul owned about eight acres in the downtown area. In 1912, he built their summer cabin on Okanagan Lake and it was the second home ever built on Okanagan Lake!
What to pack
Paul’s Tomb is a fairly easy hike, but you’ll be exposed for a large portion of the trail. Above all else, it’s important to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.
To stay hydrated, bring a reusable water bottle at the bare minimum. It’s even better to carry a 3L+ hydration pack in your backpack. I see people out hiking all the time without water and it hurts me because it’s so dangerous. It’s recommended to have a minimum of a half liter of water per hour of hiking. Electrolyte boosting tablets are also a great idea in case you’re feeling tired from sweating.
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Paul’s Tomb trail is only five minutes from downtown Kelowna on Knox Mountain. It’s a local favourite with a secluded beach and the trail is well-groomed with wonderful views.
There’s plenty of free parking all around Knox Mountain. The trail starts at the first lookout, but you can make your hike longer by starting elsewhere.
There are two parking lots on the mountain and lots of roadside parking at the base. Sometimes the gate at the bottom of Knox Mountain Drive is closed, which just means you’ll need to park at the bottom and hike to the first lookout.