Scenic Hikes and Festival Fun Mark British Columbia’s Fall Season

Posted Friday, September 04, 2015

Kootenay Rockies, Thompson Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Coast & Mountains, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Culture & Entertainment, Food & Wine, Outdoor Adventure / Ecotourism, Parks & Wildlife

The changing of the season: a time when adventurers feel the pull of Mother Nature, a yearning to explore the wilds. And that’s not all — not when cooler months mean like-minded enthusiasts can join together to tempt their taste buds, and stimulate the mind, in a convivial setting.

Exploration in the Wild

Pure escapism, not to mention alpine meadows, jade-coloured lakes and ancient trees, draw outdoor adventurers to E.C. Manning Provincial Park, in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. Situated three hours east of Vancouver, Manning Park boasts an impressive range of walking and hiking trails, from quick jaunts to multi-day excursions. And while the landscape’s challenges are sure to quicken the pulse, it’s Manning Park’s diverse flora and fauna that are the true stars of the show. On display? Fall proves a fantastic time to view the sub-alpine larch trees that morph from green to glorious gold along the Frosty Mountain Trail, a heart-thumping hike that moves from lakeside forest to alpine reaches, culminating at Manning Park’s highest peak.

On Vancouver Island, Goldstream Provincial Park proves an ideal setting to lace up, thanks to a veritable showcase of what makes the outdoors truly great: forests of green, roaring waterfalls and a rushing river thick with salmon. Mere minutes from downtown Victoria — a city truly embraced by nature — Goldstream showcases a mass of criss-crossing trails suited for all skill levels. And those trees: western red cedars, yew, hemlock, arbutus and even 600-year-old Douglas fir all call this area home; the park’s arbutus, with its distinct red-dish trunk and peeling bark, is Canada’s only broad-leafed evergreen and is found exclusively on Vancouver Island and the southwest coast of BC. As an added draw, the fall chum salmon run, featuring fish that number in the thousands, lures eager viewers to the observation platforms for a bird’s-eye view of the annual phenomenon.

Speaking of salmon, Roderick Haig Brown Provincial Park northeast of Kamloops is home to one of the largest sockeye salmon runs in North America. Here, fall is a favoured season to view the striking red-and-green fish in the Adams River, not to mention an ideal time to take in a riotous display of seasonal colours. Muted emerald and auburn tones mesh with vivid punches of red and gold, all along trails suited for hiking in summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. Explorers can seek out Adams River’s rushing rapids and, during the last three weeks of October, opt for a spectacle of a different sort when the spawning salmon will be on full, glorious display.

In the Kootenay Rockies, the Canyon Creek hike south of Golden holds its own sway, showcasing a dramatically changing landscape, and a delightfully easy pace. This four-kilometre (2.4-mile) local favourite begins in the valley before making its way up and up to the alpine; though not a difficult hike, this journey, that starts alongside an old rail bed built by pioneers for hauling logs, can easily extend into a day-long adventure, complete with pretty views of the valley below. For a change of scenery, the Mt. Fernie hike, further south, may qualify as a quick adventure, but the reward for this two-footed effort is no less satisfying. Spanning four kilometres (2.4 miles) point to peak, this newly developed trail moves through dense forest before making way for incredible panoramas; three-quarters of the way showcases camera-worthy views of Mount Baldy, while those who choose a steeper climb to the top can take in the three rising peaks to the north: Mount Hosmer, Mount Proctor and the Three Sisters.;

Taste Buds, and Imaginations, Run Wild

Discovery can quicken the pulse but it can also tempt the palate, a sensory pleasure that can bring out an enthusiast’s wilder side. Where better to explore the possibilities than during the 35th annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, October 1 – 11, a yearly gathering that features a deliciously diverse array of more than 120 wine, food, educational and arts-focused events that tip their hat to resident vintners, grape growers and, of course, palate-pleasing Okanagan chefs. Here’s a taste: Kelowna’s fan-favourite Blind Wine & Cheese Party returns October 7 to test the palate, while The Young Chefs challenges 12 of the culinary world’s best and brightest apprentices on October 8 to create an Okanagan-inspired dish that features Quebec cheese provided by Alexis de Portneuf. Okanagan Crush Pad Winery, further south, encourages enthusiasts to visit October 1 – 10 to learn more about a trending practice, namely wines “Raised in Concrete,” while those eager for a high-flying afternoon can sign on for the Summerhill Experience + Trestles Tour, a helicopter excursion over the Myra Canyon trestles, capped by a private tasting paired with a three-course lunch at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. And that’s just the tip of the taste buds.

On Granville Island, fans of fact and fiction will gather to exchange ideas and engage in thoughtful conversation during The Vancouver Writers Fest, October 20 – 25. For nearly 30 years, this annual fest has sparked the imagination, offering a host of thought-provoking events — nearly 90 in total — that celebrate authors, poets, spoken word performers and graphic novelists. This showcase of stories, told by the authors themselves, is set to draw the masses with a stellar 2015 lineup that includes Paula Hawkins, best-selling author of The Girl on the Train, non-fiction writer Simon Winchester and international star, and UK author, Sarah Dunant. Popular Canadian authors, including Lawrence Hill, Elizabeth Hay and Patrick deWitt, will also share the stage with a broad international lineup, rounded out by panel discussions, one-on-one interviews, poetry jams, events for the little ones and more.

When the books have been shelved, revelers can raise a glass at Whistler’s 19th annual Cornucopia food + drink festival, an 11-day indulgence of local food and drink that partners forward-thinking, homegrown chefs with top BC winemakers, and brew and distillery masters. Set for November 5 – 15, Cornucopia promises sensory overload with a tempting lineup of winery dinners, interactive seminars, gala tastings and after-parties. On the agenda? House Party: Best of BC (think: barbecue and home-grown beer) kicks things off November 5, followed by the popular CRUSH Gala Grand Tasting, November 7, Cornucopia Night Market | Taste of the World, November 13, and Brewed: BC Craft Brewers Guild Winter Beer Market, November 15. As a bonus, imbibing with some of BC’s best is sure to provide enthusiasts with delicious insight. 

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