Why would an outdoor enthusiast want to go to the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre? If you read the government site, the 320 hectare site does not really sound too interesting:
- Summerland location consists of 320 hectare site, with approximately 90 hectares irrigated and available for research
- Food research pilot plant; sensory evaluation laboratory
- Extraction and fractionation laboratory pilot plant
- Electron microscope and confocal microscope
- Quality control laboratories
- Ornamental Gardens and Museum
However, after doing a bit of research you get a small idea of what its like. One tourist site directs visitors to the “magnificent gardens”. For me, the Summerland research center is a fantastic way to spend a leisurely afternoon. It is an area that will delight and surprise you.
Once you reach the top of the hill, just past ther research center buildings you immediately realize you are entering paradise, the Summerland Ornamental Gardens. You may see a 4 point large Whitetail Buck off to your left as it meanders through the Xeriscape like my wife and I did as we left the gardens a couple weekends ago. Once you park and take in the aroma of the flowers you are greeted with several directions to walk. Much of the flora and fauna are labeled (well flora is labelled anyway – not the animals, birds and bees) which will help you replicate what you have learned in your own garden. But wait, the glory has just begun.
Stick around a bit, if you have children, they can play in the manicured lawn ringed with flower beds while you check out the view of Trout Creek Canyon and the Kettle Valley Railway Trout Creek Trestle. Just before the entrance to the Summerland Ornamental Gardens, you can take a short gravel road to the Trout Creek Trestle and enter a stretch of the Trans Canada Trail. If you are a biker, continue on the trail all the way to Princeton and beyond.
But don’t leave yet, if you haven’t heard the train whistle from the historic Kettle Valley Railway Steam Train. Get all the details and directions to get to this section of the Trans Canada Trail from Penticton here!
Now instead of taking in the beaches after checking out the ornamental gardens and historic trestles with the Steam Train Rolling by, maybe you want to experience a Great Train Robbery while you take a ride on Reading Rail…sorry, on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway! But even if you don’t ride the rails on the historic train, wait at the gardens and you can hear the whistle as the train actually arrives at the canyon often.
Location: Head towards Penticton and just past Summerland you will see a large Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre government sign on the right. Opposite the turn to the Summerland Research Centre (now named the off is the Sunoka Beach Provincial Park and when I dropped by a couple weekends ago it was packed – but for good reason this beach on Okanagna lake is incredible! But if the crowds are too much for you, just drive down highway 97 a little further towards Penticton and stop at any of these 3 small Provincial Parks located on the Okanagan Lake shore.
- Pyramid Provincial Park – Picnic area and beach (rocky)
- Soorimp Provincial Park – Boat Launch, Picnic and beach (rocky)
- Kickininee Provincial Park – Picnic area and beach (rocky)
- And of course if you keep going you will be on the Penticton Okanagan Beach at the South end of Okanagan Lake.
Just go now – don’t wait anymore!