As we sat on the edge of the Sicamous Lookout ramp we soaked in the beauty of the North Okanagan-Shuswap. Mara and Shuswap Lakes sparkled to the southwest, beckoning us with their summer fun of wakeboarding, tubing, and house boating. Sicamous nestled on their shores, surrounded by fields and gently sloping mountains. We have a deep love for the Okanagan Valley and I was sharply reminded why people flock here year-round.
The gorgeous Instagram photos drew us in, setting a destination for our spur-of-the-moment, mini road trip. I’d been itching to check out the secluded viewpoint for a while and when we decided to go to the Starlight Drive-In, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to explore the Sicamous Lookout.
Why is there a platform so far up the mountain?
The Sicamous Lookout was originally built as a take-off platform for hang gliders and is still widely used today. Sicamous has long been a hot spot for hang gliding and even hosted two national Canadian competitions in the 70’s and early 80’s. The current ramp was restored in 2011 by volunteers for the Sicamous Hang Gliding Reunion; this was the third time it had been rebuilt due to age and heavy vandalism.
More of an off-road experience than an actual hike, this is a great way to experience superb views without much work. It’s not often these views are possible without hiking for hours.
Driving to the Sicamous Lookout
As we left the Trans-Canada Highway and headed towards the mountain, I was reminded of my childhood and the dirt roads we used to explore. Moving to the city has certainly limited the ease of those adventures and I couldn’t help but reflect on that: perhaps that’s why we’ve taken to hiking more strongly than ever before.
We rumbled over a train track (it had been so long since we’ve seen one of those!) and less than a kilometer later began our bouncy, pothole-riddled drive up the mountain. We were wary of meeting other vehicles on the narrow, active logging road. The road is extremely well maintained and we had no difficulty navigating the 8.5km in our SUV. Halfway up we met a small car; they drove slowly but managed the road just fine.
Within ten minutes we had already gained hundreds of feet in elevation and, between trees, we glimpsed the beautiful valley below us. The road wound its way along the mountainside but more often than not we were far from the edge which I was thankful for. Too often have I driven on the edge of a gut-wrenching cliff, forcing my eyes closed from the sickening height, too panic-stricken to enjoy the views (no, I wasn’t in the driver’s seat!). Thankfully, this road was nothing like those and we easily navigated it.
The road was dusty and our car was soon a glorious light brown, the colour of adventure. I felt like we were cheating, not truly earning our view.
Reaching the Sicamous Lookout
The Sicamous Lookout sneaked up on us; we passed a clear-cut section of the forest, went around a few bends, and barely noticed the ramp hanging over the edge of the road. The only reason I spotted it wass because of the Google Map marker we passed. The road was narrow and we drove 500m further where we found a great place to turn around and park.
The car in front of us pulled over, clearly confused about where the lookout was; we pointed them in the right direction as we began the short 1km round trip walk to the ramp.
As we approached the Sicamous Lookout, the spectacular blue sky shone through the trees and the trail appeared to disappear over the edge of the mountain. The ramp, which was hidden from the road, wowed us as we descended to it. There was some graffiti but for the most part, it was in good repair and we felt safe walking to the edge (if not a little scared from the height!). A light breeze washed over us as we relaxed on the wooden platform and hungrily took in the view in front of us.
Thirty minutes later we packed up and headed back down the mountain. Next time, I’ll pack a picnic!
There’s not much you need to visit the Sicamous Lookout other than a vehicle that you can take on gravel roads. The walk is easy to do in sandals and you won’t break much of a sweat. Having said that, there’s one thing I do wish we would have brought.
And that’s binoculars! The fantastic, panoramic view is amazing but we both would have loved to look closer. Where else can you watch cars travel along the highway from so far above or check out the fields across the mountain?
Location & information
The view from the Sicamous Lookout of Sicamous and the surrounding lakes is absolutely gorgeous and well worth a detour off the Trans-Canada highway. This is more of an off-roading experience than a hike, so make sure your vehicle is able to drive on gravel roads The road is well maintained, but it is an active logging road; always give right-of-way to logging trucks and drive slowly.