Resting alongside Okanagan Lake and Kalamalka Lake while enclosing Wood Lake within its embrace is a cozy municipality befittingly named Lake Country. Along with its lakes are rolling mountains and blue skies, capturing the full country lifestyle within a snug community - all while only being a 30 minute drive away from the cities of Vernon and Kelowna.
With lakeside cafes and markets and easy lake access, including seven beach parks in the Oyama neighbourhood alone, it goes without question that you can easily find a way to enjoy the lakes in this area. Before you jump in one of these bodies of water, let’s take a dive into 5 of the top experiences you can have living in Lake Country.
1. Okanagan Rail Trail
What better way to enjoy the lakes than a peaceful excursion alongside them? The Okanagan Rail Trail is a wide corridor trail with 24 kilometres running along lakeshores and creeks. With its relatively flat and minimum grade, the trail is accessible to everybody and can be used for walking and cycling.
The trail runs through Lake Country and borders Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake. The Wood Lake Circle is a 19 km loop encompassing Wood Lake, providing you with plenty of opportunities to admire the lake from all angles. As you pass Kalamalka Lake, you can behold spectacular views of the water, which ranges in colour from a majestic indigo to stunning teal or cyan.
Though the Okanagan Rail Trail is relatively new, it has plenty of history. CN Rail created a railway along this path in 1925, which ceased service in 2013 and was dismantled soon afterwards. Although a handful of kilometres still need to be constructed in this 52 km trail, it will eventually connect Lake Country to Vernon and downtown Kelowna. This spring is a wonderful time to visit the Okanagan Rail Trail as a stretch from Wood Lake to Ribbleworth Falls will open in spring 2020.
2. Gatzke’s Orchards
A place that has existed almost as long as the CN Rail line, firmly planting itself in Lake Country’s history, is Gatzke Orchards. Established in 1929, the farm has been maintained by four generations of the Gatzke family. The orchards have an astounding assortment of tree fruits, totalling over 50 varieties, in addition to other crops, such as peppers, corn and squash.
If you’re wondering why you would want to visit a farm, aside from the delicious fresh fruit, you can join an orchard tour or visit the farm museum, which has a number of antique farming equipment on display. The farm market has plenty of delights, including gourmet jams and jellies, as does the bakery and cafe.
3. Oyama Lake
In the quiet periphery just off of Oyama resides another peaceful lake. Oyama Lake may not receive the amount of attention as Lake Country’s three major lakes, but that’s exactly what makes this medium-sized lake the perfect spot for fishing. With the deepest part of the lake reaching 87 feet, it’s a fantastic place to fish for trout. In fact, the lake is stocked with 15,000-30,000 trout every year.
Oyama Lake can be accessed from the Oyama Lake Recreation Site, which has campsites and a boat launch. For a fully-provisioned fishing trip to make fishing easy anytime, you could stay at the Oyama Lake Eco Lodge. This fishing resort has cabins, boat and fishing rod rentals as well as handmade flies from a local artisan for sale. It even has a fish cleaning site and smoker.
If fishing isn’t for you, you can still enjoy the serene surroundings of the lake and perhaps spot an osprey, heron or loon around the lake. The Oyama Lake Eco Lodge also has canoes, kayaks, paddle boats and pedal boats to rent, so you can explore any of the 27 islands on this 800-acre lake at your own pace.
4. Oyama Zipline
If you want an instant adrenaline rush, Oyama Zipline is just the place for you. Not only is it Okanagan’s largest adventure park, Oyama Zipline is the only adventure park that has a full-size aerial obstacle course and zipline park in BC. At 72 acres and with 7000 feet of ziplines, there’s plenty for you to explore.
The ZipCourse has 7 consecutive stations, so you can go through the ziplines without needing to hike between each of the lines, allowing you to have more time for fun. One of the most unique features of this adventure park is the side-by-side ziplines. You can take pictures or record video of your friend as you zip along next to them. If you’re feeling competitive, you could also challenge your friend to a race as each of you zoom through at over 80 km/hr.
Oyama Zipline is fun for the whole family and with its Little Monkey Play Park, children as young as 3 years old can try aerial trekking and zip lining. As part of the Lake Country community, Oyama Zipline offers Winfield Minor Hockey team members free Aerial Park Season Passes after a team outing. With expansions and improvements every year, you’ll want to come back again and again.
5. Kangaroo Creek Farm
Even though Kangaroo Creek Farm just moved south to Ellison, it has a long history of over 20 years in Lake Country. With its new season at the new location, you’ll want to see what’s new. Kangaroo Creek Farm is amazingly one of the few places with kangaroos outside of Australia, especially as Australia stopped exporting its kangaroos in the 1960s.
In addition to the kangaroos, you could see wallaroos, wallabies, emus, cavies, capybara and more. One highlight of your visit will definitely be the chance to catch a rare glimpse of a baby albino wallaby. Not only are you able to see the animals, but you are able to pet and feed them as well.
With its new location, Kangaroo Creek Farm is still tightly integrated with the Lake Country community. Visits have been and still are free to retirement homes, schools, daycare centres and charities in Lake Country with prior approved bookings.
Lake Country is one of those communities where you can take a short stroll and immediately feel a connection to nature. Whether you’re sipping on a coffee or leisurely walking along its shores - the lakes, calm and magnificent, are always in view.
Since the Lake Country quality of living is so desirable, it’s no wonder that it was BC’s fastest growing municipality in 2014. The municipality’s close proximity to UBC’s Okanagan campus and Kelowna International Airport have further driven growth since then.
Article curtesy of 118 and West