British Columbia Hiking on Okanagan High Rim Trail

Wow – what a climb. Cardinal Creek Trail was some steep hiking for the first 1.5 kilometers as it steeply winds up the side hill to the heights of the Okanagan Highlands above Philpot Road (just outside Kelowna along Highway 33) and ever onward on the meandering High Rim Trail that leads toward James Lake, […]

Written By Clayton Kessler

On June 14, 2008

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Wow – what a climb. Cardinal Creek Trail was some steep hiking for the first 1.5 kilometers as it steeply winds up the side hill to the heights of the Okanagan Highlands above Philpot Road (just outside Kelowna along Highway 33) and ever onward on the meandering High Rim Trail that leads toward James Lake, Oyama Lake and on to Cosens Bay on Kalmalka Lake

After parking on Philpott Road right where it meets Highway 33, we decided to hike down to Mile Zero of the High Rim Trail.

Choose Mission Creek Trail or Cardinal Creek Trail

Choose Mission Creek Trail or Cardinal Creek Trail

You can see the sign for the trail about 100 meters before getting to Philpott Road if you are driving from Kelowna. The hiking trail is called Mission Creek Trail and is only 400 meters of hiking to get down to Mile Zero situated right on Mission Creek.

A trail junction on Cardinal Creek.

A trail junction on Cardinal Creek.

After arriving at Mile Zero on Mission Creek Trail, you can travel up or down Mission Creek – I went up-river for 500 meters or so. I have yet to discover which way the Mission Creek Falls are and will let you know soon! Or if you know, please post a comment! 


Lose a set of dog booties?

Lose a set of dog booties?




Cardinal Creek Trail

Cardinal Creek Trail


Cardinal Creek Trail crosses several old logging roads.

Cardinal Creek Trail crosses several old logging roads.




Mile Zero of High Rim Trail in the Okanagan near Kelowna on Mission Creek.

The beautiful cedar trees, mossy ground, risk of black bear to keep you on edge as you stroll along the meandering trails along the banks of the historic Mission Creek make this a hike that begs to be taken. The fact that it is within a short drive from Kelowna, a very short 400 meter walk to mile zero and the lack of bikes, joggers, and other hikers zooming by you every few yards makes this hike even more appealing!


  1. RyanG

    I’ve heard rumors that the falls are downstream of the high rim trail, near Kelowna city limits. For what it’s worth, Google Earth shows a fairly abrupt elevation change there.

  2. claytonkessler

    Hi Ryan.
    Thanks for the comment. I will be hiking up Mission Creek from Scenic Canyon real soon. Hopefully I’ll find the the Mission Creek Falls then. If anyone would like to join me, just let me know and we’ll work out a time and day.

  3. Paul Phillips

    Might be a little late now but,
    you should be able to find most, if not all, the info you need in “Hiking in The Okanagan and Southern Monashees” (in Mosaic) and the associated website. What I don’t know is how to get by the falls without swimming (nice this time of year though). I know you can hike into the south side, but not where the start point is. Let me know if you find out.

  4. claytonkessler

    Hello Paul.
    Thanks for the idea on getting okanagan hiking information. Sometimes we search so much online and forget to consult a few books from local authors. I think I’ll go visit the book store and see if I can find something on the mission creek falls there.

  5. claytonkessler

    Hey Paul.
    Is the trail you hiked to the Mission Creek Falls the trail that leads north from Browne Lake. I am referring to the black dotted line in the Backroads Mapbook – not the last section of the Okanagan Highlands Trail.

  6. Paul Phillips

    No. Go to
    find the pdf map under the Hydraulic Creek entry. The falls are a couple of hundred meters up from the old cabin (just off the map). There maybe a way of getting directly to them from McCulloch FSR. The map shows you how to do it on the Hydraulic Creek trails. (Unfortunately it’s locked for printing and I can’t find the key right now.) I don’t know what grid Mussio uses but don’t expect it to match mine. Also, due diligence requires me to state that some parts of the trails shown run along the canyon walls – old flume trails – and are very nasty. Have fun.

  7. claytonkessler

    Hello again Paul.

    Thank you very much for posting this information along with links here! I just need to confirm – The falls that we are talking about are not the falls on KLO creek in Scenic Canyon Regional Park, but the falls on Mission Creek and if I understand your directions, that would put the Mission Creek Falls 1 or 2 km’s upstream from the Hydraulic Creek mouth, right? Here is a side note also, if you have not been to Mission Creek via the Field Road entrance on the Mission Creek Greenway Phase 2 in awhile, it is very well managed and a ranger now lives in the cabin on KLO creek.

    By the way, I am making a major change to my template and at the same time I will be putting in some new advertising content. Instgead of just adsense where I get paid for every click I would like to add a few local ads that are hiking/outdoor related. I would do this at no cost right now while I am in the start up stage. Can you send me a picture that I could use for an add, maybe a cover pic with the title of your book. My site currently receives 300 + visitors per month and over 10 000 page views.

    Thanks again,


  8. paul phillips

    I’m afraid the entry is not very clear because it’s written as an errata to the book. No, not the KLO Creek Falls. I walk there regularly (see the photo section of the website 🙂 ) The falls are about 4 km walk from Hydraulic Creek mouth. I used to go in from H33, but it’s been developed now. You might still be able to get in from the water-works pond upstream, I haven’t tried for a while. The falls are about 1 km directly south of Pyman Road (Black Mtn. access) on H33. I think the access from the IR land is now blocked. My stats. for going in from Hydraulic Creek and McCulloch FSR are 4 1/2 hr return. 15 km round trip, 700m elevation gain. It’s very very hot, lots of bears. I’ll contact you later about advertising – good idea.

  9. claytonkessler

    Thank you very much!!! I have been considering this hike for sometime and your instructions are very explicit. I checked out your photo’s too and was very impressed.
    So to be clear on where folks can get more of your expertise in print, here is the link:

    Thanks again,


  10. Tim Rieger

    Mission Creek Falls: There are actually two sets of falls on Mission Creek and this may be causing some confusion. Gallagher Falls are about 4 Km above Hydraulic and are a set of several cascades. Hogback Falls are about one Km downstream from the Black Mt holding pond and are much more substantial but less accessible. A real adventure finding them but a beautiful hike. It may be easier from the south side. I was through that way about 40 year ago.

  11. claytonkessler

    Thank you very much Mr. Rieger. I think you are right. The two sets of falls on Mission Creek has caused a little confusion. Being that you have this infol from 40 years ago, I can hardly wait to hear more about trail your hiking adventures since then! Feel free to post a comment on what you may think would be a nice hike at any time. In the summer Tracks And Trails ( ) receives thousands of visits and I am sure any info. you may have would be appreciated.

    Thanks again!

  12. Nigel-Burke

    what’s the place like in january? im looking for a good location to camp early next year. thanks for your initial advice, though! i might consider to High Rim Trail….

  13. Chay Johnson

    Very right Tim they are much more substancial. I’m an avid hiker/bushiologist(my own word) in the area just found this blog. I have done the high rim trail from oyama to philpot trail is…. very rough lol. this year im gonna try to go from vernon to the tressles near gillard it will be fun i know how to hike out from gillard it will be an adventure. and as for an early camp what are you waiting for i’ve been out twice this year already !BTW if anyone happens along the high rim trail around postill check out the odd water birch that can be found there. its red and dont burn worth a hoot, although might be good basket maker its a relitively thik bark.

  14. claytonkessler

    Bushiology! Hey Chay, I love it.
    (possible) Definition – The study of the Bush or things related to the bush. see related word – Bushiologist, Bushcraft
    Bushiologist – one who studies the bush, has fun in the bush, lives in the bush for short and long terms and is often called a hiker.

    Watch for a post on Bushiology. haha

    -I have a few questions about the potential hike from Vernon to the trestles. When following the High Rim Trail (if that is what you would do), how long do you think it would take to hike from Oyama Lake to Philpot Road ?
    -To get to the trestles from Highway 33, would you take the hike to Hydraulic Lake first (description found at )?


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