Article contributed by Ellen Spacey
A favourite with locals, Hardy Falls Regional Park is a prime place for a nice stroll in the Peachland area. Nestled at the end of Hardy Street just before Antler’s Beach, Hardy Falls offers a well-maintained trail for all ages and levels of experience that culminates in a spectacular view of the waterfall at the end of the trail. Throughout the park, there are eight foot-bridges that allow for great views of Deep Creek, which runs into Okanagan Lake. There are plenty of places along the way for some photo opportunities of the beautiful scenery and the trail is flat enough to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs! In all, the trail is about one-kilometer roundtrip, but it is a trip well worth taking. The park is also home to a special ecosystem which sees hundreds of Kokanee salmon return every fall for spawning in the creek.
You can learn about the falls, the local geography, and about the Kokanee salmon at the observation platform by the falls, which has informational plaques to read, or by joining a guided nature walk put on by Park Interpreters from the Regional District of Central Okanagan.
If you’ve never seen the salmon run before, it’s a real treat! Kokanee turn a vibrant red colour when they are ready to lay and fertilize their eggs— they really match the fall scenery of the park. You can follow the salmon along your walk, watch as they jump up the salmon ladders installed into the creek bed, and join them at the falls as they make their final journey there. If you watch long enough, you might see them jump by the waterfall!
During spawning, salmon return to the place they were born to lay their eggs. The female salmon dig a shallow hole in the gravel of the creek bed called a redd to lay their eggs. They are fertilized by the male salmon and buried beneath the gravel to protect the eggs over the winter.
If you are making the trip to see the salmon spawn, please be aware that the ecosystem is very fragile and, as pretty as they are, do not disturb the fish! During spawning, bears are also attracted to the area—something to be mindful of as well.
The salmon run can be seen from early September into early October, with peak times in mid-September.
Regional Parks Programs and Guided Hikes
Salmon spawning guided program—Free
Join a Park Interpreter at one of two key spawning locations: Hardy Falls or Mission Creek. Learn more about the Kokanee salmon life cycles on a fascinating and informative nature walk. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, each program is limited to 8 participants to allow for physical distancing. All ages welcome.
Programs run twice per day starting on September 9. The program will run September 16, 23, and 30.
Register online, no drop-ins. Salmon Spawning Guided Program Registration
Themed Guided Hikes—Free
You can also join a Park Interpreter for themed guided hikes as well in parks like Glen Canyon (with some salmon spawning views at powers creek before hiking up the canyon), Mission Creek Greenway, and Goat’s Peak Regional Park!
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, each program is limited to 8 participants to allow for physical distancing. These programs are intended for adult participants.
Register here, no drop-ins. Themed Guided Hike Program Registration
For further information about bookings for school groups or small groups for a salmon talk, contact Regional Parks staff at EECO@rdco.com.