Hero slideshow Items
Trail Running In Greater Vernon, the Trails Capital of BC
Lace up and head out for a trail run in Greater Vernon, the newly minted trails capital of BC. With a vast network of accessible trails that traverse crystal-clear lakes, peaceful forests, and spectacular viewpoints, this area is truly nature’s playground. From the wildflower-dotted loops on SilverStar Mountain Resort to the lakeview foothills of the North Okanagan valley, there is a challenge for every adventurer.
With stunning scenery, a vibrant community of outdoor enthusiasts, and lively trail running events, this region is fast becoming a popular destination for the sport.
“Our trail systems are amazing,” says local runner Dawna Jodoin, who founded Bush Babes & Bro’s Trail Running, an organization that grows the sport and community in the North Okanagan. “Rocky rooty, flowy and fun. You can see waterfalls and lakes and get up into the high alpine, so you get a little bit of everything.”
The inception of Bush Babes & Bro’s began with Dawna’s own personal ultra running journey back in 2002—well before the sport had become mainstream. What started as solo quests into the bush soon inspired others to join in the fun. Now, the thriving organization is at the heart of the North Okanagan’s trail running community, hosting events, clinics, and coaching throughout the year. There are 15 coaches and up to 70 mentored athletes at any given time.
So, where do they run?
SilverStar Mountain Resort
SilverStar Mountain Resort, located at an elevation of 1,915 m (6,280 ft), is the perfect place to beat the summer heat. Ride the scenic gondola to access 16 km (10 mi) of trails that wind through pristine alpine meadows and dense forests, revealing panoramic vistas of the Monashee Mountains that will leave you in awe at every turn. During your run, keep an eye out for local wildlife, including deer, squirrels, and the occasional glimpse of a black bear (remember to be bear aware). Each season brings its own unique charm, from vibrant wildflowers in the summer to the vibrant foliage of early autumn.
“We’re just so proud of our trail systems and how beautiful it is here. It’s really just a hidden gem,” Dawna says. “A lot of people don’t know about these upper trails. They ski SilverStar in the winter but they don’t necessarily know about the summer trails.”
Tip: Dawna’s favourite trail on SilverStar Mountain in the heart of summer is the Alder Point trail, a part of the infamous Beowolf.
Greater Vernon Area
Just 20 minutes down the mountain from Silver Star Village, the Vernon area is an incredible trail running setting. Kalamalka Provincial Park is a crown jewel with over 26 trails that spider out through forests of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, along the shoreline of Kalamalka Lake, and up into the hills for breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, bears, and birds.
Tip: Dawna’s pick for early summer is King Eddy Plateau in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, with trails overlooking the lake and Monashees.
A Tribute to Trail Stewards
Becoming the trails capital of BC takes a veritable village, which wouldn’t be possible without the North Okanagan Cycling Society (NOCS), Dawna says. Contrary to the name, NOCS supports trails for many recreationists, including the trail runners.
“NOCS builds and maintains the network in our area and they work really hard at keeping our trails clear and well-maintained, including great signage,” Dawna explains. “They’re always advocating for new trails and they do lots of volunteer trail maintenance days getting people together for trail work.”
Trail Running Events in and Around Silver Star
If you want to test your trail running chops, Silver Star is THE place to visit for a holiday. As the season ramps up, there are several great community running events scheduled for Summer 2023:
Slay the Dragon
June 24, 2023
Registration is still open for SilverStar Mountain Resort’s official season opener, Slay the Dragon, a challenging race featuring three distances: 13km, 25km, and 50km (8 mi, 15.5 mi, and 30 mi). Run the beautiful single track mountain bike trails with unobstructed views of the Monashee Mountains, starting the race at 1,500 m (5,200 ft) and ending at 1,900 m (6,280 ft).
Soup 2 Nutz
July 8, 2023
The highly-anticipated Soup 2 Nutz duathlon combines a 16 km (10 mi) mountain bike race and a 10km (6.2 mi) trail run, which can be completed solo or with a team. The race takes place at Silver Star Provincial Park and features rugged double track and fun flowy single track that will test your fitness and introduce you to the beauty of the area.
Brokenagan Backyard Ultra
July 22, 2023
Yet another high alpine event located in Silver Star Provincial Park on the world-class cross country ski trails of Sovereign Lake Nordic Club. The Brokenagan BYU is new to the race circuit, created to not only challenge yourself, but to bring the running community together in a fun 6.43 km (4 mi) course that is looped as many times as you can. The Backyard Ultra accommodates all levels of runner, allowing everyone to reach new goals.
September 16, 2023
Taking place at Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, Freaky Creeky offers a variety of distances including: 13km, 27km, 50km, and 87 km (8 mi, 16.7 mi, 30 mi, and 54 mi). Runners will traverse technical and cruisey single track with some long, thigh-shredding descents, with the added bonus of collecting points in the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) Series.
Is trail running difficult sometimes? The answer is a resounding yes, but that makes it all the more worthwhile. Dawna reminds us that you can’t enjoy the good things in life without a little sweat equity: “It’s a love-hate experience during some moments. But you know, if you don’t have some hard sections, it wouldn’t be as fun.”
Trail Running Tips:
- Find Your Way: Use a trusted mobile app like Trailforks for wayfinding. The Ribbons of Green Trails Society also offers an interactive map for the Greater Vernon Area.
- Join Community: Join the Bush Babes and Bro’s Weekend Warrior Facebook Page to meet other runners and get tips on local trails. Or contact Bush Babes and Bro’s for questions about running in the area.
Get the Gear: Visit Starting Block Running & Walking Gear and Valhalla Pure Outfitters in Vernon for safety and trail running gear.
- Travel Safe: Always carry a whistle, bear spray, and bring the BC AdventureSmart 10 essentials. If you’re heading out of cell range, you may also consider bringing a GPS communicator such as a Garmin InReach.
- Respect Wildlife: Be WildSafe. Visit WildSafeBC for tips on how to “reduce wildlife conflicts where we play.”
- Give Back: Get good trail karma by donating to NOCS. If you’re not ready to race in an event, you can also sign up as a volunteer and give back to the local trail community by volunteering at a local race.
- Practice Etiquette: Most of the trails in the North Okanagan are multi-use, so be aware and practice trail etiquette. Follow the fast-to-slow rule (Bikers yield to runners and walkers; runners yield to walkers; and everyone yields to horses).
Photo Credits: Alam Lam, Greg Huszar, Jordan McGrath, Nathan Karsgaard @folkandwild, Tourism Vernon, @brandonruns