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Cosens Creek Mountain Bike Area is managed and maintained by the North Okanagan Cycling Society
Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park
About This Park
Virtually at the back door of the City of Vernon, this fine example of North Okanagan grassland is dotted with ponderosa pine and groves of Douglas-fir. The spring wildflower show is truly spectacular. The largely undeveloped park has an all season appeal to those interested in its natural setting.
A variety of animals, bird-life and reptiles and plant-life reside in a mosaic of grassland communities. To date, 432 varieties of vascular plants have been identified in the park, rare for such a small area. This peaceful park is ideal for the study and appreciation of natural history, all year-round.
In 2008, Kalamalka Lake Protected Area (2,223 hectares) became part of Kalamalka Lake Park. The park now encompasses an area of 3,218 hectares.
Established Date: September 11, 1975
Park Size: 3,218 hectares
The park is open year-round, with services from April 5 to October 27.
Know Before You Go
- This area provides habitat for a variety of snakes, including rattlesnakes. This is no reason to avoid the area, just remember to wear heavy pants and high boots and avoid walking in the long grass and putting hands and feet into crevices that you can’t see into. People who encounter rattlesnakes along trails should detour around them and go on their way. Rattlesnakes will not chase after people and cannot strike beyond the length of their body.
- Visitors should be aware that bears inhabit the park.
- Campers and swimmers should be aware that swimmer's itch may be present at Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park. For more information on the treatment and prevention of swimmers itch, check out the BC Healthfiles page.
- Cliff diving is extremely hazardous. Projecting rock shelves and debris are often hidden just below the surface. Hard impacts with water can empty the lungs of air resulting in serious injury, rapid sinking and possible drowning.
- The extremely hot, dry Okanagan climate can result in overexposure to the sun. Visitors should use a sunscreen and wear a hat during long periods in the sun.
- Dogs are not allowed in Jade Bay, Juniper Bay and Cosens Bay, except in the designated area at the eastern end of Cosens beach. They must be on leash in all other areas of the park.
- There are kiosks at main trailheads with interpretive information.
Location and Maps
Please note: Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Maps and BrochuresAny maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Nature and Culture
- History: Established 11 September 1975.
- Cultural Heritage: The grasslands and bluffs of the park were traditionally used by the Okanagan Nation. Kekuli pits and six sites of lithic artifacts are located in the park along with evidence of small village clusters of pit houses and a larger cultural village. As well, Cosens Bay was the site of a World War Two mortar practice range.
- Conservation: Ponderosa pine and groves of Douglas-fir are found in the northern portion of the Park, while Douglas fir, cedar and hemlock dominate the area south of Cosens Bay. To date, 432 varieties of vascular plants have been identified in the park, a rare find in such a small area. Included is the red-listed Flat-topped broom-rape. The grasslands above Cosens Bay are part of an ecosystem that is rapidly disappearing in the Okanagan Valley. Kalamalka Lake is one of a handful of unique bodies of water known as marl lakes. When the lake warms in summer, calcium carbonate, or limestone, forms crystals that reflect sunlight and create its distinctive blue and green colours.
- Wildlife: There is an abundance of rare and endangered wildlife in this park. White-tailed deer, mule deer, mink, bobcat, black bear, cougar, coyote and red fox occur in the park. Blue-listed mammals include the Western harvest mouse and Townsend’s big-eared bat. A great spot for birdwatchers, the park provides habitat for the Canada goose, Canyon wren, White-throated swift, Western screech owl and Flammulated owl, all of which are blue-listed species. The variety of reptiles here is vast, including pacific rubber boa, western rattlesnake, western yellow-bellied racer, gopher snake, northeastern garter snake, common garter snake, western painted turtle, Great Basin spadefoot toad, and northern alligator lizard. There is even a unique insect, the Immaculate green hairstreak.
- Management Planning Information
- Active Management Planning Process (Initiated 2017)
- State of the Park Analysis [PDF] for Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, Kalamalka Lake Protected Area and Cougar Canyon Ecological Reserve
- Friends of Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park 2015 AGM [PDF 5.44MB]
Activities Available at this Park
Mountain biking is permitted in the park, however, the beaches (Jade, Juniper and Cosens) and trails to Rattlesnake Point are not appropriate for biking due to the high levels of use by hikers/walkers. (refer to map for bike closure areas [PDF]). The Cosens Creek area of the park, south of Cosens Bay Road, is a multi-use trail system maintained by the North Okanagan Cycling Society (NOCS), and boasts some of the best mountain biking in the North Okanagan. Elsewhere in the park, please stay on trails and watch for other users. Mountain bike maps and app access can be found at okcycling.com/trails/.
Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
Over 14 km of trails provide access to the park’s many ecological features, viewpoints and main beaches.
For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.
Pets on Leash
Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash at all times. Pet Beaches are located about a kilometre down the Crest Trail and at the eastern end of Cosens Bay. You are responsible for your pet’s behaviour and must dispose of their excrement.
Dogs off-leash are especially susceptible to rattle-snake bites; anti-venom cannot be given to your pet if bitten.
Facilities Available at this Park
This park offers a variety of day-use activities accessed from four main parking areas: Red Gate, Cosens Bay Gate, Twin Bays (yellow) Gate, and the Climbers Parking Lot.
Red Gate has parking for approximately ten vehicles. This location consists of an information shelter just inside the gate and trails that access the upland portions of the park and also loop around to link with both the Cosens Bay and the Jade and Juniper Bay parking areas. The trail to the other two parking areas is wide and easy to follow, while other trails are less developed. The trails from Red Gate are ideal for hiking, walking dogs on leashes, and biking. This parking area is located outside of the Park and is maintained by the District of Coldstream.
Cosens Bay Gate has a space for approximately 20 vehicles. This is the closest parking area to Cosens Bay. Although Cosens Bay Road continues on into the park it is primarily for traffic accessing private properties outside the park, or those parking at the Climbers Parking Lot. A 3 km trail leads from the parking lot to day-use facilities at Cosens Bay. There is an information shelter and a pit toilet at the start of the trail. Access to the Okanagan High Rim Trail is also from this parking area. Cosens Bay has a large beach of coarse sand that extends into the water, making swimming a treat. Picnic tables are situated along the beach beside the fringe of cottonwood trees that separate the beach from the surrounding grasslands. There are pit toilets where the trail reaches the beach. The trail to Cosens Bay is ideal for hiking, walking dogs on a leash, biking, or horseback riding.
Twin Bays (Yellow) Gate is the largest parking area in the park, and can accommodate a large number of vehicles. There are information shelters and a wheelchair accessible pit toilet near the parking area. A 600m paved trail runs down a gradual slope to Juniper Bay. There is a bench along the way. At Juniper Bay there are 11 tables on cement pads spread out across an irrigated lawn shaded by a few large Ponderosa pines. There is a BBQ stand beside one of the tables. The tables and lawns overlook the large beach of fine sand which is a great spot for swimming on a hot Okanagan day. Shrubs and trees cover the small rocky headland at one end of the bay. Also situated on the headland just off the lawn is a stone and concrete interpretive display with information on native vegetation and wildlife.
The trail to Jade Bay splits from the paved trail about 20 metres from the parking lot. This is a wide gravel trail with a moderately steep slope. It is about 500 metres to the beach. The trail passes through Ponderosa pine with a thick under story of young Douglas fir and shrubs. There is a pit toilet beside the trail 50 metres before the beach. A narrow pebbly beach is rimmed by grass, on which are four picnic tables. The beach is smaller than at Juniper Bay. A short trail along the lake links the two day-use areas. Jade and Juniper Bay is ideal for hiking and beach activities.
Climbers Parking Lot was constructed in 2013 with assistance from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and is located about 5km down Cosens Bay Road from Cosens Bay Gate. The park’s newest parking area was created to provide an acceptable area for climbers, hikers and mountain bikers to leave their vehicles and avoid the need to park along or off the road. The parking lot is located at the Climbers Trail Trailhead, but also provides a great starting point for those accessing the Cosens Creek multi-use trail network.
Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash at all times. Pet Beaches are located about a kilometre down the Crest Trail, and at the eastern end of Cosens Bay.