Eastern Shores of Central Okanagan Lake
We have just left the Southern section of the lake as we head north along its eastern shore towards Kelowna. Just past Scruggins Reef is the Northern end of Okanagan Mountain Parkand the southern end of Lakeshore Road which follows along the Eastern shores of Okanagan Lake down from Kelowna.
When wildfires roared through this area in 2003, they completely destroyed houses and acreages, while other homes (some literally right next door) were totally untouched. Most of the damaged communities and homes have been rebuilt, but signs of the fire are still evident along the Central Okanagan hillsides.
Lakeshore Road follows along the lakefront past waterfront homes and estates with newer housing developments nestled in between vineyards that creep up the hillside. As the lake takes a slow sweep back to the northwest, Kelowna's new W.R. Bennett floating bridge may be spied in the distance.
A few creeks on the lake's east side deposit silt and debris far into the lake. To be safe, avoid these deposits by staying way offshore. Equally hazardous are long sandy shelves that extend far into the lake from the eastern shores of southern Kelowna's Mission area. This may be hazardous except in July and August.
From here north along the shoreline are gorgeous homes, and parks including Bertram Creek Regional Park. Just north of Mission Creek are two waterfront hotels, the Manteo Resort and the Eldorado Hotel. The latter has a boat launch, gas dock, boat rentals and mooring. These are great places to stop for a bite, or to enjoy a beverage on one of their outdoor patios.
The first Eldorado Hotel has quite a history in the Kelowna area – it was moved here by barge from three miles north of its original site. Today, the Eldo boat launch boasts four lanes, with pay parking and commissionaires in the summer months.
Early mornings in the summer, before the rest of the city wakes up and the lake gets too busy, you can see local waterskiers carving up the glass along this stretch of water between the hotels and the bridge. Be careful of the long sandy shelf along this shoreline. You have now arrived in K-Town.
Just north of the bridge and City Park is the foot of Bernard Avenue, where the Sailssculpture speaks for itself. Right next to it is the Ogopogo statue depicting the legendary lake monster. The Kelowna Yacht Club sits just north of the Fintry Queen and a few charter boats. The Kelowna Marina gas dock has a pump out station and boat rentals.
On the northern end of the Kelowna Yacht Club is a public boat launch with four lanes. Right next to it is the Delta Grand Hotel, including a waterfront pub and restaurants with outdoor patios. There is a beautiful lakefront boardwalk that follows along the lake from City Park all the way past the Dolphins sculpture and the Rotary Marsh.
Just past the marshlands you pass the light beacon off Manhattan Point and the lumber mill.Stay on the outside of this lighthouse beacon to avoid damage to your boat.
A large shallow bay in Sutherland Park north of the beacon and mill features a boat launch for small craft. At the northern end of the bay is Poplar Point with a few lakefront homes sitting directly below Knox Mountain Park.
A lovely walk from Knox Mountain leads you north to Paul’s Tomb. Rambler Paul, one of the area’s original settlers, had a tomb built for his beloved wife and himself. A part of the buried tomb overlooks a rocky point and its gorgeous bay. Rambler Paul generously left his property to the City of Kelowna for all residents to enjoy. Way above Paul's Tomb is Clifton Road, with its homes perched high on the rocky cliffs. It bears north, but stops just short of McKinley Landing.
McKinley Landing is a quiet little community that sits north of Kelowna and south of Okanagan Centre. It mostly consists of single family homes that sit on the hillside overlooking the lake, with a few spectacular waterfront estates and modest summer cottages scattered along the shoreline. Here ends the tour of the eastern central shoreline.
Western Shores of Central Okanagan Lake
On the west side just north of Peachland, Hwy 97 cut into the hillside north towards Trepanier Creek (Drought Hill) and up into West Kelowna (formally Westbank).
Down below Drought Hill on the waterfront is a beautiful stretch of beachfront where Seclusion Bay Resort nestles in the rocky shoreline. At the northern end of this stretch is Pebble Beach Park, whose northern end features several caves cut into the rock.
Beautiful waterfront homes now appear along the lakeshore, and developments sprawl up towards the town of West Kelowna. North of Pebble Beach Park, around the point you pass the new Cove Lakeside Resort and Hotel.
After passing a few waterfront homes you come to the West Kelowna Yacht Club, which uses the old car ferry 'The M.V. Pendozi' as its clubhouse. The ferry used to shuttle between the Westside and the City of Kelowna before the original floating bridge was finished in 1958.
On the north side of the yacht club is a decent boat launch. Take care, as it can get quite shallow during the winter months when the lake level is low.
Gellatly Bay is named after an early pioneer farmer who settled on the Westside. There you can see one of the old train barge docks, a pick-up and drop-off point for rail cars that transported fruit and vegetables to different communities up and down the lake, and to the outside world, from the 1950s through to the 1970s.
North of Gellatly Bay you pass by beautiful lakefront homes and resorts on your way towards Green Bay, a very shallow bay which you must only enter slowly and proceed through carefully.
The bay has homes all around it, with Mission Hill Winery and its landmark bell tower perched high above on the west slope in the background. Newer homes cover the slopes of Mt. Boucherie, a dormant volcano now surrounded by Quails' Gate Winery vineyards and buildings all sloping down towards the clear waters of Okanagan Lake.
Proceeding northward you pass by Kalamoir Park whith its long beach, picnic tables and swimming area. Just north of the park is Casa Loma, in the past an orchard area but now a quiet, residential community.
The new W.R. Bennett floating bridge represents the dividing line between the north and south ends of the lake. The bridge carries you from the west side of the lake to the east side and into the City of Kelowna. Shelter Bay Marina sits on the east side just before the bridge crosses the water.
If travelling by road, a left turn off Highway 97 before the new bridge puts you on Westside Road, which continues northward up the western shore of the lake towards Vernon.
Heading by water northwest of the bridge are The Bluffs, a promontory overlooking the city and the bay. Until recently, it still featured the dock where ferries once shuttled passengers and vehicles between the west side and downtown Kelowna.
Past the old ferry dock bay are houses perched high up on the steep cliffs, with steps carved into the hillside that lead down to the their beachfront.
The next cove northward is Raymer Bay Park, with a nice beach, picnic tables, fire pit and a few mooring buoys for a nighttime layover. North of Raymer Bay is a log boom holding area for the mill across the lake in Kelowna. Just past this is Bear Creek Provincial Campground.
Bear Creek has great beaches, nice campsites and stunning waterfalls that can be hiked up to via steep stairs and paths that loop around the falls. The pontoons for the new floating bridge were built on the other side of Bear Creek Park.
The next community you come across is Traders Cove and Traders Cove Regional Marine Park, featuring a small, protected bay with a few overnight mooring buoys. There are BBQ pits and a children’s playground near the beach, and a dive site in the marine park. High above Traders Cove towers Blue Grouse Mountain with the best paragliding in the valley, thanks to the updrafts and thermals rising up from the lake.
Not many homes dot this stretch as it is very steep along the shoreline. The Central Okanagan area ends at Wilson Landing, once a drop-off point for the sternwheelers that serviced the area before the Westside road was put through. There is a dive site located nearby. Let’s now continue onto the Northern section of Okanagan Lake.