Last updated December 15, 2019
The Okanagan is famous for beautiful, sunny days and scenic, deep blue lakes. There’s nothing quite like spending your day next to the water, surrounded by gorgeous mountains. If you’re looking for a scenic walk or bike ride that checks all those points, the Wood Lake Loop in Lake Country is perfect. The 17.5 km loop is part of the Okanagan Rail Trail and is a fun adventure for your whole family.
Last Mother’s Day, my family and I grabbed our bikes and decided to enjoy the scenic Wood Lake Loop trail. It was a wonderful bike ride and we checked out a small waterfall, enjoyed a few beach stops, and shared plenty of laughs. All in a great day’s ride!
|Length||17.5 km / 10.8 mi|
|Duration||2 – 4 hrs (biking)|
|Difficulty||Easy (entirely flat)|
Wood Lake in Lake Country is one of the major lakes in the Okanagan, albeit one of the smaller ones. It’s located just north of Kelowna and is sandwiched between Lake Country and Kalamalka Lake. It has a stunning, deep blue colour and people love spending their days on the water fishing, boating, and kayaking or paddle boarding. A tiny piece of land called Oyama separates Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake and back in 1908 a small channel was built to connect the two lakes.
Wood Lake is named after Tom Wood, a farmer who settled a ranch on the southern end of the lake in the 1860s. Tom called his ranch Winfield, which is what many long-time locals once called Lake Country. The lake hasn’t always been named after Tom, though. In 1922, both Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake were known as Long Lake and it wasn’t until 1951 that they became separate entities.
Much like the rest of the Okanagan, the climate around Wood Lake is quite dry. This has produced great soil and has allowed a successful fruit industry to develop around the lake. You’ll pass by a few orchards on your ride on the Wood Lake Loop trail.
Wood Lake Loop trail
The Wood Lake Loop encircles almost the entire perimeter of Wood Lake, which is just outside of Lake Country. The 17.5 km hiking and biking trail is pretty much flat, which makes it perfect for an easy and absolutely beautiful day’s adventure. The loop features both the Okanagan Rail Trail and Pelmewash Parkway.
However, unless you want to spend all day walking, I highly recommend biking the loop. Because the trail has a very low grade, you can enjoy a leisurely ride along the lakeshore and cool off with a quick dip in the lake. There’s also a small waterfall you can check out on the far side of the lake.
You can even learn a little bit about the area thanks to the interpretive signs along the way. They feature the local Sylix people, historic ranchers, and Kokanee.
Okanagan Rail Trail
The eastern section of the Wood Lake Loop is on the Okanagan Rail Trail. The transformed CN rail-bed stretches for 49.5 km from Coldstream to downtown Kelowna. It’s been an amazing community accomplishment and has already become a local gem! This interactive map features the various amenities along the trail, including outhouses, mile markers, garbage, and heritage markers.
The Okanagan Rail Trail section of the Wood Lake Loop runs from Woodsdale Packinghouse Park in Lake Country to Oyama. It’s made of compact aggregate and is the quietest portion of the entire loop because it doesn’t run parallel to any roads. It’s also where the small waterfall is located.
The section near Lake Country is quite shaded thanks to the cliffs and foliage along the trail. However, about halfway towards Oyama the trail becomes much more exposed. On a hot day, you’ll get sweaty. Make sure you have plenty of water and stay hydrated!
As you approach Oyama, you’ll notice small beaches where you can enjoy a nice dip in the lake. When you reach Oyama, the trail suddenly runs parallel to Oyama Road, a bustling little street. Although the trail is separate from the road, keep your eyes out for cars. To complete the Wood Lake Loop, follow the trail to the western side of Wood Lake. The Okanagan Rail Trail continues north, but you’ll turn south onto the Pelmewash Parkway.
The Pelmewash Parkway completes the Wood Lake Loop and is located on the western side of the lake. The parkway was once part of Highway 97, but the highway has since been rerouted up the hill. The parkway is now a beautiful corridor along Wood Lake!
The Pelmewash Parkway is a very easy, scenic ride and has recently been entirely redone. It features a beautiful paved biking and walking trail that follows the lake from Oyama back to Lake Country. However, it does run parallel to the road, but don’t worry, the road is usually fairly quiet.
There are numerous parking areas, as well as beach access and picnic benches along the way. Perfect place to enjoy a break! Even though it’s a flat trail, you’ll want to take breaks just to enjoy the view.
Completing the loop
The Wood Lake Loop ends rather suddenly in the Tim Hortons’ parking lot in Lake Country. Honestly, it’s quite unceremonious and is a little disconcerting.
To find your way back to the beginning, take Oceola Road and cross Highway 97 below Tim Hortons. Oceola Road turns into Woodsdale Road at the highway. Stay on Woodsdale as it heads downhill, past Wood Lake RV Park and Marina, and eventually flattens out. Stay on this road until you meet back up with the beginning of the Rail Trail at Woodsdale Packinghouse Park.
This isn’t an official bike trail, so you’ll need to be very wary of cars and always stay on the side of the road.
The Wood Lake Loop is beautiful! Although it’s only a small portion of the Okanagan Rail Trail, it gives you a great appreciation for the newly constructed trail. The entire lakeside loop is quite easy and the only challenge is the length. At 17.5 km, you could easily spend an entire day walking (or only a few hours biking).
I’ve put together a few packing suggestions below. Of everything below, definitely make sure you bring enough water to stay properly hydrated. It can get hot out there!
- Reusable water bottle: Not only are reusable bottles better for the environment than single-use plastic ones, they’ll keep your water cold throughout your entire ride. I love S’well, Kleen Kanteen, and Hydro Flask.
- Water reservoir: I love water reservoirs. They’re an easy way to carry lots of water and to actually stay hydrated. I have the Hydra Pak 3L reservoir and I highly recommend it if you bring a small backpack.
- LifeStraw: If you run out of water, a LifeStraw lets you drink directly out of the lake.
- Snacks + electrolyte tablets: Biking can get tiring, especially when it’s hot out. Bring lots of small, high-energy and nutritional snacks such as Clif Bars, RXBARs, or Pro Bars. I also recommend Nuun electrolyte tablets in case you’ve been sweating a lot (which is pretty likely).
- Skin protection: It’s important to protect your skin, so remember to pack sunscreen and sunglasses.
- Bathing suit: There are plenty of places to enjoy a quick dip in Wood Lake. I love my Londre swimsuit (it’s made of six recycled plastic bottles).
- Runners + sandals: You don’t need to bust out the full-blown hikers for this trail. A good ol’ pair of Nikes or outdoor sandals will do just fine.
If you’d like to buy your gear from sustainable brands, we’ve put together an article about some of our favourite outdoor brands that do just that. Some of them donate time, money, or resources, whereas others support outdoor-related legislation, increased education, or eco-friendly resources.
The Wood Lake Loop is perfect for all skill levels and is very family friendly. If you don’t want to explore the entire loop, no problem! There are plenty of places to hop on or off.
You can enjoy all sorts of non-motorized transportation on the Wood Lake Loop. That includes obvious things like walking, biking, and running, but also the less obvious like skateboards, roller blades, and push scooters. You can bring motorized wheelchairs, electric scooters, and e-bikes as long as they don’t have a gas engine.
My parents and grandparents have e-bikes. We took turns switching between them and my regular mountain bike. I must admit, I loved the e-bikes! It was surprisingly easy to forget to pedal and was a wonderful way to take a break while still moving. Is that cheating? Maybe a little, but it was a lot of fun! However, it’s also easy to forget how fast you’re going on an e-bike, so when you approach other trail users be sure to slow down, treat everyone with respect, and follow trail etiquette.
Dogs are more than welcome on the Wood Lake Loop. It’s an on-leash trail, so as much as you might like to let your dog run wild, you need to keep them on under control. Also, make sure you pick up after your pooch. No one likes to step in dog poop after all.
There aren’t many amenities on the Wood Lake Loop. There are a few outhouses along the way, as well as some garbage cans. Make sure to dispose of your garbage properly.
There are also some great restaurants along the way where you can fuel up on your bike ride. The Turtle Bay Pub in Lake Country is delicious and sits right on Wood Lake — the views are gorgeous. The Oyama General Store is home to the OKF Grill, a yummy little restaurant right across the street from the beaches in Oyama.
There’s a ton of parking around the Wood Lake Loop. With the exception of the east side of the trail, there are places to park along the entire loop.
In Lake Country, Beasley Park has tons of parking and is near the Woodsdale Packinghouse Park trailhead. If you want to begin along the Pelmewash Parkway, just continue along the road until you find an empty parking spot along the lake.
We had such a fun time biking the trail. Have you explored the Wood Lake Loop yet?