Hiking at Turtle Mountain

On top of just offering amazing homes, the Turtle Mountain community is all about lifestyle.

Turtle Mountain is surrounded by basalt cliffs formed during the great volcanic era, 40-60 million years ago.  Within our community’s boundaries, you will find environmental reserves, park land as well as access to part of the historic Grey Canal Trail, one of the Top 10 hiking trails in Vernon.

Walk beside an ancient lava flow wall above Downtown Vernon with an easterly panorama sweeping from Coldstream through Vernon with great views of Middleton Mountain, Silver Star and Swan Lake.  This hot, dry hillside trail gets shaded in the afternoon. It’s best enjoyed mid-morning till mid-afternoon in spring and fall, or early mornings and evenings in summer.


The trailhead starts right on Turtle Mountain Boulevard, where you’ll find an attractive Aspen Grove sign (there is also a small parking lot available for day hikers). Look out for old siphons found along the trail, trembling aspen and snowberries,  Blue Bunch Wheatgrass on the slopes and Ruffed Grouse in the grasslands.

Once you’re past the first fairly steep but short trail section look downhill. Notice the abrupt changes from the sage and saskatoon hillside onto manicured lawns and yards. The hillside slope is so steep you’ll feel like you could jump into town. The magic of being upslope means this short .7 km trail takes you from downtown to North Vernon with its views.

Watch for hawks, magpies, swallows and other birds skirting the cliff edges. With a sharp eye, you might spot a Northern Alligator Lizard, Terrestrial Garter Snake or the endangered Rubber Boa. Rare bats roost on these basalt cliffs.

Masses of white flowered saskatoon shrubs and wild sunflowers cover the hillside in spring. There’s a lovely lichen display in the naturally eroded amphitheater. Tall, straight Ponderosa Pines soar up alongside the trail in spots. Stay on the trail to avoid Prickly Pear Cactuses. A sign blocks the trail’s end where you’ll have to turn back. The historic canal carries on above Swan Lake. Further sections may be acquired in time…at least that’s the dream of many hikers.

There are two other trails to explore right up at Turtle Mountain for even more outstanding scenic views: West of Turtle Mountain Boulevard –The flat .4 km trail is suitable for wheelchairs and strollers with expansive views of Mission Hill and the valley to Okanagan Lake with Terrace Mountain behind. Interesting interpretive signs explain the historic Grey Canal’s formation and workings and how it hugged this corner. Dogs must be on leash.

Rocky Ridge Park – Follow the flat .4 km trail south behind Razorback Court to a wood stairway that takes you up to Rocky Ridge Park on a basalt knoll for an outstanding 360° view of Greater Vernon. It can get very hot and dry here. Watch out for Prickly Pear Cactuses. Not good for dog walking.

We would like to thank Tourism Vernon for putting this great Turtle Mountain hiking guide together and invite you to visit their website for more great hiking trails around Vernon.