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Visiting Giant’s Head in Summerland

Here is a post from a contributor who wanted to share her experience hiking Giant’s Head Mountain.  Many thanks to Jody for the submission.  Enjoy.   Suzanne.

In the past little while I have been making arrangements with my (slightly) aging parents of doing something together on weekends.  They are in reasonable shape, they walk every day, but they are “getting up there” (83 and 77).   They attribute the fact that they ARE still active to doing active things.  So we decided to tackle Giant’s Head.

Climbing Giants Head Summerland
The peaceful, windy road up the mountain is populated by walkers and bikers

It was a beautiful sunny day in May, but it wasn’t too hot.   But we started out at around 10:00 so we wouldn’t catch too much heat.     We googled the hike, and it said, “there is a paved road up the mountain, but it is narrow and winding and it is not recommended for driving.    It is best that you park at the bottom and hike – (like everyone else does!)”

So, we heeded this advice.  We parked at the bottom just outside the gate (which closes at dusk) and set out.     The first thing we noticed that yes, the road was a little windy – but it was nicely paved and very drivable.  Especially if you’ve ever been a skier you’re quite used to those curvy windy gravel roads.  this road is a walk in the park.      But, as we were walking, it became obvious why people would want to discourage drivers.  Most hikers were walking on the road.  And the first thing that is highly annoying would be a constant flow of speeding traffic passing through.

The road winds, and is a very easy pace for walking.  There are trails that will get you there much faster, but are quite steep in places.  Because the road winds, you can choose at any point to jump on and off the trails or choose the road for a stretch.    The people we encountered seemed to do a bit of everything.

There are some strategically placed park benches along the climb, so you can pause and take a break and admire the view.  Even right as you start out you are given an impressive view of Summerland and the Okanagan Lake.    It was a great chance to really figure out how the roads work – as Summerland can be a little confusing to a newbie.

At the top of the paved road part is a bit of a parking lot.  Not big.  But enough for a few cars.    And then a slightly steeper hike begins.   This doesn’t last all that long, but if you are coming from the bottom, this last stretch can seem a little foreboding.     At the top is an expansive 180 degree view of the Lake, Penticton, Summerland.     And you can walk around to different vantage points such that you can take in all 360 degrees of the area.  The hike up took us about 11/2 hours.     We did stop for a few breaks.  And we did stick to the road about 75% of the time.

Giant's Head Summerland
The view on the way up Giant’s Head

On the walk down we did notice a few more cars coming up.     At this point we had that cynical perspective about how “lazy” these people were.  There was some “kids” who managed to coach their car up to the top, drop one of them off so he could skateboard back down.   Even though there are a number of signs expressly prohibiting such a practice.    There were also a number of cyclists who rode up the paved portion and took some back trails down the other side.  Overall, there were a number of people finding creative ways to enjoy the mountain.

It only took us 45 min to get back down.  We did take a number of the trial and only stuck to the road on the steepest stretches.   So I would say trails 66% of the time.

Overall, this is definitely worth doing.  The views are well worth it.  If you don’t have the time, yes you CAN drive up and take the short hike.     But if you do have the time, it is great exercise.  If my parents can do it, kids can do it!

Penticton Disc Golf

Frisbee Golf. Fun and Easy to Play.

There is a Frisbee Golf close closer than you think.  And not all that many people think about it, so it is not always that busy.   This is a free course sponsored by the Rotary Club, located just off of Abbott Street between Marina Way and Vancouver Avenue.  You walk up a little ravine and end up with some pleasant views of the Lake as you challenge the course.

Okanagan Lake Marina
From the Frisbee Golf Course you get a pleasant view of the Marina at Okanagan Lake

What is Frisbee Golf?

Actually, many people do call it Disc Golf because, although the initial idea came from throwing frisbees, those who are truly serious about the sport have developed a number of different “discs” for different types of shots.   Much like golf.  There is a different club for every type of shot, (but as we saw in the movie “Tin Cup”,  the only club you really need in golf is a 7 iron….).    When you are on vacation and you are there simply to have fun, a frisbee is all you need.

Penticton Disc Golf
The object of the game is to get the frisbee into the cage in as few throws as possible

The game is played much like golf.  Your initial “throw” is meant to go a long distance to get nearer to the hole, or the cage, which is situated several yards away.  As you get closer to the cage, your shots need to be a bit gentler and more precise.

The field is well mapped out, and there is a sign with all the rules posted so you can get a good idea of what you are doing.    But it is really not that complicated.    It is something kids would catch onto very quickly.

Penticton Frisbee Golf
The Frisbee (Disc) Golf course is a free course at Okanagan Lake

The Rules

Everyone “Tees Off” from inside the Tee Box.    For play on the fairway, the one furthest from the “hole” always shoots first.  The hole is not complete until the disc is inside the cage or supported by the chains.  i.e. if it bounces off and lands on the ground it is a “missed putt”.

On the next hole the lowest score generally Tees off first (unless you’re playing with competitive siblings when alternating might work better).   The objective is to take the least amount of shots as possible.

How Long Does it take?

This is a relatively quick course.  There is lots of open space and not too many obstacles.   So it really won’t take more that a couple of hours if there is a group of you.  If you were playing by yourself you could be done in an hour.

Entrance to the Frisbee Golf Course just off of Abbott Street near the beach at the Marina