Are you looking for a rather easy hike in Kelowna? In this article I’ll detail how to get to Turtle Pond in Kelowna’s Mission Creek Regional Park from the parking lot at the park.
It’s special having nature retreats like this right in the city. I recently walked to “Turtle Pond” in Kelowna’s Mission Creek Regional Park. I went in March so unfortunately the pond was frozen and I didn’t get to see any turtles but it was still great to get into the forest.
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Where is Turtle Pond in Mission Creek Regional Park?
Turtle Pond is a short walk from the parking lot at Mission Creek Regional Park. It is a small pond where you may be able to spot the painted turtle (an endangered species). [Reference] I’ll explain how I got there in the following paragraphs and accompanying pictures. (I’m sorry I didn’t time how long it took to get there from the parking lot but I don’t think it was more than 10-15 minutes. Please correct me if you have timed it.)
Walking from the parking lot to Turtle Pond
From the parking lot you walk past the playground and washrooms building, and then you circle behind an information pavilion. And when you stay on the path you’ll see this small bridge over a concrete ditch (called a flume). [See picture below.] When you cross this little bridge you’ll come to the Mission Creek Greenway path which runs alongside the actual Mission Creek waterway. You can see a larger bridge in the distance: this is Kokanee bridge. To get to Turtle Pond you cross that Kokanee Bridge over Mission Creek.
Below is a picture I took while walking over the Kokanee bridge en-route to Turtle Pond.
Across the Kokanee bridge there is a small information station. To get to Turtle Pond you go to the left and aim toward that tree you see on the left side of this picture below. (The tree has a marker on it showing you how to get Turtle Pond.)
One thing the park does well is that it has easy to see trail signs like the one below mounted to the tree. That wood bridge you see in the picture below spans over top of the Kokanee spawning channel. They created the spawning channel in an attempt to increase the number of Kokanee fish in Okanagan Lake.
Below is a picture of the Kokanee Spawning Channel in March. We recently had a cold snap, so there was still a lot of ice.
After you cross the neat wooden bridge over the Kokanee Spawning Channel you’ll encounter these set of stairs. You can see the trail marking sign.
At the top of the stairs you’ll come to a wide area with fencing on the right side…kind of feels like you’re in a corral. Walk along the well-worn path near the fencing until you near the end of the fence.
When you near the end of the fence (as you can see in the picture below) you’ll see a fork in the road. Take the more well-worn path to the left. (You can see my dog wanting to head that way in the picture below.)
Continue on this path for a little ways and you’ll come to Turtle Pond. You can see the pond covered in ice in the photo below.
Are all the painted turtles dead because of the ice? According to this article, no. It says that painted turtles can survive for months under ice and sometimes they’ll bury themselves deep in the mud at the bottom of the pond.
Once you see this bench alongside Turtle Pond you are NOT done exploring yet.
If you continue on the path just a short while longer you can walk onto the island in Turtle Pond by crossing the wood bridge shown below.
Crossing the bridge takes you to “Evelyn Island” where you’ll find this commemorative plaque.
My hike to Turtle Pond in the month of March didn’t result in a treasure trove of wildlife sightings, but I’m excited to come back in the Spring once everything thaws out.
Speaking of thawing out it was already starting to get quite muddy on some of the trails so be careful if you come up here in the Spring.
Returning to the Parking Lot
My dog and I looped around on a different trail to further explore the park, but you could easily return to the parking lot the same way you came.
What is the dominant tree in the Mission Creek Regional Park?
The information plaque below states that the dominant tree in the Mission Creek Regional Park is the Ponderosa Pine. I don’t know if by “dominant” they mean most common, but there sure are lots of them in the park. I wasn’t there on a hot day so I didn’t get to smell the vanilla scent of its bark, but I enjoyed the invigorating, “piney” smell of the forest.
Questions I had about these Parks in Kelowna
I haven’t explored Kelowna very much so I had some questions about parks in the area. I did some research and this is what I came up with.
What is the Mission Creek Greenway?
Kelowna has a 16.5km long path for walking and biking that runs alongside Mission Creek called the Mission Creek Greenway. It is wide and expansive to accommodate pedestrian traffic.
I went in March and nothing was in bloom – so it wasn’t exactly a “green” way at that time – but I’d love to go back once the trees have leaves.
Below is a small chart showing the elevation and grade of the Mission Creek Greenway section from kilometer 4 to 9. This is the section that runs through the Mission Creek Regional Park (which is where the Turtle Pond is). There is only a gentle incline.
Click here for more information about Kelowna’s Mission Creek Greenway.
Where is Kelowna’s Mission Creek Regional Park?
The names Mission Creek Greenway and Mission Creek Regional Park were a bit confusing when I first heard them, but Mission Creek Greenway is the path that runs along the creek through a large section of Kelowna, and Mission Creek Regional Park is a 92 hectare park that surrounds a small section of the Greenway.
(If you think of Mission Creek Greenway as a long string, the Mission Creek Regional Park would be like a bead threaded onto that string.)
The main access to parking at the Mission Creek Regional Park is at 2363 Springfield Road. (At the intersection of Springfield Road and Durnin Road.)
What is there to do at the Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna?
There is a children’s playground, the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan, a Children’s fishing pond, grassy areas for picnics, a Kokanee salmon spawning channel and hiking trails.
The children’s playground is close to where you park your car and there are washrooms there too. (I think the washroom building may be seasonal, but there were two portable outhouses when I went in March 2021.)
I hope you’ve found these details about hiking to Turtle Pond in Kelowna’s Mission Creek Regional Park helpful.
Next time I’m in Kelowna I hope to do more exploring and then I can document other hikes and sights.
This was a short jaunt, but you may like this article on Basic Hiking Gear.