Peak Trail Big White Ski Resort
Okanagan

Peak Trail at Big White Ski Resort

I love mountains and I absolutely adore the views from their summits. It’s incredibly empowering to summit a mountain and gaze in every direction. Plus, that swell of complete happiness that starts in your chest and moves throughout your entire body is unlike anything else. Mountain summits usually take at least a few hours to get to, but the Peak Trail at Big White Ski Resort is different! You can get to the highest point at Big White and its amazing views within less than an hour… and with only minimal sweating.

The Peak Trail is an intermediate, 1 km loop trail at Big White and is the second shortest hike at the ski resort. You’ll wander through a gorgeous landscape of small alpine trees and rocky meadows, all the while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

Sound like your cup of tea?

Length: 1 km
Duration: 45 mins to 1 hour

Panoramic view from the Peak Trail at Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna
Hiking above Rhonda Lake at the top of the Cliff Bowl at Big White.
Hiking in the alpine mountains near Kelowna.

Hiking at Big White

Over the last few years, I’ve learned to love ski resorts in the summer. We discovered their amazingness while searching for an escape from the stifling wildfire smoke that we’ve had in the Okanagan over the past two years. Big White is high enough in the mountains that it’s way above the smoke, which makes it an amazing place to hike. 

Although it was the fresh air that initially drew us to the ski resort, we ultimately fell in love with Big White’s hikes. We love hiking in the alpine, but it’s not often we get to experience it in the Okanagan. Thanks for letting us explore the alpine, Big White!

The trees at the resort are small and hardy — in the winter, they’re blanketed in snow and called snow ghosts. The many ski runs are covered in beautiful, colourful wildflowers and they’re in full bloom in the first two weeks of August. Plus, the resort isn’t nearly as busy in the summer as it is in the winter, which gives you lots of time to explore the mountain at your own pace. You won’t feel like sardines on the trails, which is what I’m all about.

There are multiple hiking trails at Big White and they all meander across the alpine mountainside. Every single one is great and, surprisingly, unique! Since the Peak Trail is so short, we highly recommend exploring more of the trails while you’re there.

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about becoming lost on the trails because they’re all well-marked by orange Inukshuk. Still, it never hurts to grab a map in the Village before you head up the mountain.

The Village at Big White in the summer.
Walking through an empty ski resort in the summer
Sam from Explore the Map sits on a large, large chair in the Village at Big White.

Peak Trail

If you want to hike to Big White’s highest point, the Peak Trail is for you! It’s a short, 1 km loop trail and has a total elevation gain of 166m, so it’s not too challenging but is still very rewarding. The steepest grade you’ll encounter is a staggering 49.5%, but luckily the average is only 16.6%. You won’t want to miss the Peak Trail when you’re hiking at Big White!

The trail begins at the top of the Bullet Chair. To reach the trailhead, you can either ride the chair lift up from the Village, or hike the Rhonda Lake Trail or Falcon Ridge Trail. In fact, the top of the Bullet Chair is where you can access many of Big White’s trails. 

We’ve always taken the Bullet Chair because it’s not every day you get to ride a chairlift in the summer! 

Riding the ski lift at Big White.
The Bullet Chair at Big White in the summer
Benches at the trailhead of the Peak Trail.

Switchbacks

The Peak Trail begins by slowly switchbacking along the exposed alpine mountainside. The trail is covered in low, sparse grass and mid-sized slabs of flat rock. There are no trees and it’s quite exposed, but because the resort is high in the mountains, it’s a lot cooler than down in the valley. Don’t forget your sunscreen and water, because even though it feels cooler, the sun is still plenty strong! 

The view from this section of the trail is nice, but it’s nowhere as great as the summit. This is also where the Alpine Meadows Trail branches off.

The switchbacks on the Peak Trail.
Hiking in the alpine in the Okanagan.
Hiking the Peak Trail at Big White

Ridgeline

Just under halfway to the summit, the trail climbs to the top of the ridgeline. You’ll be treated to an amazing view of Rhonda Lake and the Monashee mountain ranges. As you follow the trail up the mountain, you’ll come to a section with small trees, an emergency shelter, and a non-operational ski lift. If you want to hike the Falcon Ridge Trail, it branches from the Peak Trail here.

There are lots of small, flat rock beds along the trail here. The trail isn’t always obvious, so keep your eyes on the orange inukshuk to keep yourself from wandering off too far. As long as you head uphill and stay on the rocks, you’ll be fine.

Hiking the Peak Trail at Big White in the Okanagan.
View of Rhonda Lake from above.
Looking at the non-operational ski lift on the Peak Trail.

Summit

As you near the summit of the Peak Trail, you’re suddenly presented with a stunning, 360° panoramic view of the Christian Mountains and the Okanagan Valley. Looking back the way you came, you can see all the way back to the trailhead at the top of the Bullet Chair.

A large rock cairn at the top of the mountain marks the summit of the Peak Trail. You’re at the highest point of the Big White mountains here and it’s stunning! 

The summit of the Peak Trail
Large rock cairn at the summit of the Peak Trail at Big White.
Cloudy day at Big White in the summer

Animals on the trail

Dogs

You’re more than welcome to bring your dog hiking on the Peak Trail at Big White, just remember that the resort is entirely on-leash. You can also bring your dog on the chairlift! 

There’s no water on the Peak Trail, so make sure you pack water for your pup (this doggie water bowl is great!).

Wildlife

Big White is full of wildlife, so always keep your eyes peeled. If you do encounter animals, always give them plenty of room, don’t approach, and never feed them. They’re perfectly capable of fending for themselves. We don’t want the wildlife to become dependent on humans and to start wandering into the Village.

You’re most likely to encounter deer or marmots on the trails, although moose, fox, and lynx have also been seen around Big White. If there are berries on the slopes, bears begin to wander the mountainside. Always practice your bear safety while you’re out hiking so that you don’t run into trouble.

Close up of Keen hiking shoes.
Alpine hiking in the Okanagan.
Jacob sits on a rock overlooking the surrounding mountains.

What to pack

The Peak Trail at Big White is one of the highest points in the Okanagan Highland Mountain Range. The weather can change quickly, bringing with it strong winds, rain, and sometimes even snow. Come prepared for anything and everything!

What exactly does that mean? Lots of layers and the ten essentials!

Since Big White is so high, it’s usually colder on the Peak Trail than down in the Okanagan. Even if it’s sweltering in Kelowna, it’s a good idea to pack a base layer, a tee or tank, leggings, and a light jacket or vest. You don’t have to wear it all, but if you get chilly you’ll be really happy it was stashed away in your backpack. Wear sturdy hiking shoes — no flip flops or other flimsy sandals! — and comfy wool socks because even though the Peak Trail is short, the trail is uneven.

It’s also important to protect your skin, so remember to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a brimmed hat. Consider bringing bug spray as well.

You’ll be hiking at a considerably higher elevation than other hikes in the Okanagan, which brings with it it’s own set of difficulties. Bring plenty of water — and actually drink it to stay hydrated — and snacks to keep you fueled. Electrolyte boosters like Nuun tablets and high energy snacks are super helpful as well.

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Tying shoelaces on hiking boots.

Final notes

The Peak Trail at Big White is a great way to enjoy summit views without too much work. Plus, it’s fun to explore the popular ski resort when it’s not covered in snow and packed with people! Before you jump in your car, though, here are some details you need to know.

Cost

Hiking at Big White is free, but only if you don’t want to ride the chairlift. To ride the chairlift, you’ll need to pay for a lift ticket. There are single-ride, multi-ride, and season passes available with varying costs for different ages — the single ride tickets range from $12 to $15. You can usually get discounted tickets on the last weekend of the season. We enjoyed 2-for-1 tickets on Labour Day weekend.

To purchase a lift ticket, visit the Village Centre Mall. There’s a fairly large, lodge-like cafeteria and at the far end you’ll spot the ticket desk.

Bullet Express chairlift

The Bullet chairlift, which starts on the main road just outside the Village, brings you to the Peak Trail trailhead. The chairlift is fun to ride, especially since it’s not every day you get to soar above the ski hills in the summer! Plus, because the resort is usually pretty quiet in the summer, you’ll get the chairlift all to yourself.

Open dates + hours

The summer hiking season at Big White is fairly short compared to other hikes within the Okanagan. It usually opens at the end of June (check Big White’s site for official dates) and closes Labour Day weekend in September. 

The chairlift typically opens at 10:00 am and closes at 5:00 pm; the last ride up is at 4:30 pm and the last ride down is at 5:00 pm. The ticket booth is open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, except on Friday when it closes at 6:30 pm. The last ticket is available 30 minutes before closing. Please refer to Big White’s official website for confirmation on hours before heading up, though, because they may change.

Directions

Finding the trailhead for the Peak Trail is easy. Simply find your way to Big White — which is about an hour outside of Kelowna — and make your way to the bottom of the Bullet Express chairlift after you’ve purchased your lift ticket.

If you’re unfamiliar with the resort, it can be a little difficult to find the chairlift. It’s located right beside the road up, just beside the Stonebridge Lodge. As you approach the Village, watch for it on the right hand side of the road. Once you’re in the Village, walk towards the Stonebridge Lodge and follow the small trail down to the chairlift.

As always, happy exploring! We hope you enjoy the beautiful views from the top of the Peak Trail at Big White.

Have you hiked the Peak Trail? Let us know what you thought!

The Peak Trail at Big White Ski Resort in British Columbia is an intermediate, 1 km summer hike with stunning summit views of the Okanagan mountains. It\'s a dog friendly hike that\'s perfect for the whole family. Enjoy the popular ski resort in the summer when it\'s quiet. If you\'re looking for things to do in the Okanagan, you should definitely go hiking at Big White! #bigwhite #summerhiking #thingstodo #okanagan #explorebc #dogfriendly

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