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.
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.
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!