One of the best hikes in B.C.’s Okanagan region is the 11-kilometre round trip to McIntyre Bluff, near Oliver, according to Gerry Shea.
“The view up top is spectacular,” Shea told the Georgia Straight by phone from Kamloops. “You’re looking north and south up the Okanagan Valley. It’s a relatively easy hike.”
Shea is the 58-year-old author of Popular Day Hikes 5: South-Central Okanagan (Rocky Mountain Books), a new guidebook. The 144-page paperback highlights 35 hikes and walks around Kelowna, Penticton, and Oliver.
Popular Day Hikes is a series of books pointing the way to scenic outings that begin at well-established trailheads. Theo Dombrowski wrote the previous installment, Popular Day Hikes 4: Vancouver Island, which came out in 2014.
Prior to his latest book, Shea authored The Aspiring Hiker’s Guide 1: Mountain Treks in Alberta, The Aspiring Hiker’s Guide 2: Mountain Treks in British Columbia, and Popular Day Hikes 3: Northern Okanagan. He explained that he wrote all of these books to encourage people to hit the trails.
“There’s so many places you can go,” said Shea, who works in digital advertising. “Some of them are really easy, some of them are challenging. But the whole premise of this is to make an awareness and get people out hiking.”
According to Shea, visitors to the South-Central Okanagan should be prepared for its hot and dry climate. He noted snake sightings are more common in the southern part of the region.
“In fact, the further south you go—into Oliver and Osoyoos—it’s desert-like conditions,” Shea said. “But it is absolutely beautiful. Any area where you hike off the main arteries and you get up into the hills, the scenery is quite spectacular.”
For each hike, the book includes statistics, trailhead coordinates, road and trail directions, colour photos, and a map. Trails are assigned a difficulty rating ranging from “easy” to “strenuous”.
Described as “moderately strenuous”, the hike to McIntyre Bluff takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours. The trips included in Popular Day Hikes 5 tend to be on the shorter side.
“That’s what we find the audience is looking for—you know, get out for a three-, four-, five-hour day and head home,” Shea said.
Shea advises hikers roaming the South-Central Okanagan to bring at least a couple litres of water, insect repellent, and bear spray.
“Take sunscreen, wear a hat, and try to keep your arms covered, if it’s at all possible,” Shea said. “Obviously, once it gets too hot, you want to roll up the sleeves, but you want to be protected from the sun. You want to stop and take a break whenever you come across some water.”
What’s next for Shea now that Popular Day Hikes 5 is out? He said he’s considering writing a guide to trails in the Kootenays.