Hey there! Few days ago, I’ve shared with you my hiking adventure at Apex Trail in Knox Mountain Park. The adventure doesn’t stop there, today I am taking you to another hike that we did, this time in Vernon, BC just few hrs drive from Kelowna. It is an easy, lovely and scenic hike up to the mountains. Let’s go!
Where is Vernon Located?
Vernon is a city in the Okanagan region of the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. It is 440 km (270 mi) northeast of Vancouver. Named after Forbes George Vernon, a former MLA of British Columbia who helped establish the Coldstream Ranch in nearby Coldstream, the City of Vernon was incorporated on December 30, 1892. The City of Vernon has a population of 40,000 (2013), while its metropolitan region, Greater Vernon, has a population of 58,584 as of the Canada 2011 Census. With this population, Vernon is the largest city in the North Okanagan Regional District. A resident of Vernon is called a “Vernonite”. (wikipedia)
Experience Silver Star Resort
Whether you are pysically active or just want to spend a relax day, Silver Star Mountain Resort is a great option to add in your to do list especially when you are in Kelowna. This is a good addtion to your itinerary as this is only about 30 – 45 minutes away from Kelowna. You can do a whole day or half day tour, ride the gondola, do some hike and have some food before you leave. Summer for me is better option as I like to hike, but if you are into winter sports as well, you may want to stay few days to do winter activity. Biking and hiking are popular activity during the Summer and skiing during the Winter are the reason people visit this resort. Both will give you different experience, and I am pretty sure the view will be expectacular regardless if you visit during Summer or Winter. I can imagine the village looks like one of those small villages in the movie covered with snow and radiating with the Holiday vibe.
Explore The Colorful Village of Silver Star Mountain Resort
This place reminds me of Whistler in a smaller scale and in volume of visitors. The village is quite small and sits at the bottom of the surrounding mountains. This is popular place for mounatin biking and winter activities.
There are a lot of lodging places inside the resort which is a good thing. Having different options gave travelers flexibility to adjust their lodging budget. The first thing I noticed in the village is the vibrant color scheme of the establishments inside. There was none single establishment that was painted with single color. It is quite nice to look at them, some having vibrant color while others have pastel colors. This seems to be the theme of the resort, colorful and vibrant.
The Village is a small area, but it does have the basic establishments that you need when visiting the place. They have lodging, restaurants, bakery, pizza place, souvenir stores, kids play ground and bike shops. I would say more than enough to get the basic need. As long as there is a good place to eat, I am good. I am easy to please that way.
The 🚠 Gondola Ride – Des Schumann Summit Express Gondola
The Des Schumann Summit Express Gondola is a gondola ride that takes visitors up to the mountain is about 8 minutes ride. As you ascend the ride, you will have the view of the surrounding mountains, trees, wild flowers, bikers, and people picking berries. This gondola is the one used by most visitors who are just visiting the area. Mountain bikers have a separate open chairlift that are dedicated just for them. You can actually see the chairlifts from the gondola as it ascends, or when you hike up the mountain.
I’ve been in Gondola ride before when we went to Grouse Mountain, Whistler and Squamish. The Gondola itself looks similar, except the Gondola in Silver Star Resort comes in different colors to go with the resort theme. I like the bright purple, yellow, red and blue colors of the Gondola, they add a nice vibe to the already beautiful scenery. I am a color person, although it would not affect your experience riding the Gondola, they do looks nice in photos . So why not?
The 🚠 Gondola Hours of Operation
The hours of operation vries depending on the season. As always, it is best to check their website before you go. This is even more important if you are only doing a day trip and not staying overnight. This maximizes your time and you can plan ahead on what you want to do.
The 🚠 Gondola Rate
Ok, enough of the color. You have to buy a ticket to ride the Gondola. There are different rates depending on age level and what you want to do at the top. Kids fee are always cheaper. We took the day pass up to 4PM just to do hiking. We paid 25CAD person for the gondola ride which really surprised me. It was a lot cheaper compared to Whistler and Squamish which is also popular for gondola rides. The great thing about this is that you can use it unlimited number of times until 4PM.
The Gondola ride was not busy at all, another surprise to me. I had never had this experience before as often times Summer is a busy season. More than surprised, I was thankful. I was able to enjoy the ride, quite a few times without having to wait in line. We even did a round trip, we decided to stay in the Gondola and do another ride. That was such a treat. Something that I had never done before in any attractions with Gondola as they were always packed with people. We got lucky, we were told that the weekend that we were there was the last week for the Gondola to be open for the public. The week after that, the resort will have a biking competition and so it will be dedicated for bikers participating on the event.
The Look Out
Few steps away from the Gondola platform is a look out platform. This is a great place to see the view of the Gondola coming in from the base and leaving from the top. With the mountain back drop, the lush green trees and nice blue sky, it was a truly an amazing view to watch. Great place to take a photo.
About the Milky Way Trail
The Silver Star, Milky Way Trail is a popular ski run and hiking trail located in the Okanagan highlands of British Columbia, Canada. The trail takes hikers up the mountain and meanders through beautiful grasslands teeming with wildflowers. The trail is moderately difficult and takes around an hour from the village to the top. During the hike, you will be treated to excellent views of the seemingly endless alpine mountain ranges that are abundant in the region.
To reach the Milky Way Trail you may also want to hop on the Des Schumann Summit Express Gondola at the Silver Star Mountain Resort. The gondola ride will cost $25 for an all-day pass and gives hikers and mountain bikers access to many different trails that lead back down the mountain to the village. Though we personally chose to hike to the top of the mountain, we have done the ride in the past. The gondola is definitely a fun way to explore the hill and provides a neat experience that the whole family can enjoy.
Milky Way Trail – Hike it UP!
There are several hiking trail at the top, but we decided to hike from the bottom up to the mountain. I know it may sound crazy 😜, why hike it up when we already paid for the Gondola ride. Well, because it seems more challenging and the view while ascending the mountain was amazing! It is definitely not as easy as sitting on the Gobdola, but it is a hike that is truly worth it.
The hike is not that difficult, it was steep at some areas but it totally doable. Definitely wearing a proper hiking shoes helps. It is a short hike, about 45 – 60 minutes depending on how often you stop to take photo and video. We stooped a LOT! If am climbing up, I would at least make sure to enjoy the view in every chance I got. So I took a lot of photos and videos so that I can share it with you.
Every area has something beautiful to capture in photo, but I particularly like when we started getting out of the shrubs and started getting in get open area where I can see the Gondola coming in from the village. The higher you get, the closer you get to the Gondola.
Spot the Gnome!
I have to say it was quite nice seeing the gnome scattered in the hiking area at th etop. I initially thought that this was just probably 1 gnome, until we kept on seeing more as we walked around. I did not check the brochure before hnd, aparently, this is a thing in this place. Feels like an egg hunt during Easter but instead we are hunting for Gnomes.
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