8.6 km round trip
531mElevation Gain (m)
This exhilarating, laid-back trek grants an immense panorama of Shuswap Lake’s Tappen Bay at the modest cost of a gradual 331 m of elevation gain over a 4.3 km distance. This is a sensational way to squander a sunny day.

Tappen Bay in the distance as seen from Tappen Bluffs.

From where you have parked and where the forest service road forks, take the left tine and begin treading upward. The hike along the road to the trail is straightforward, and even though many dirt bike and ATV tracks intersect the main road, the way is obvious. The grade flattens periodically, giving you a reprieve and also providing unobstructed viewing.

Once you have passed a plateaued area where the road is criss-crossed with dirt bike tracks, the trail that takes you to the bluff will be the next one on your right. Since there are no markings whatsoever, I have tied a red bandana where the trail leaves the road on the right. I hope it is left alone for a while. Red bandana or not, this departure from the main road is 1.3 km from the bottom of the road and should take 20–30 minutes of walking to achieve.

Once you are off the main road and onto the minor one, a cattle guard early on will confirm that you are the proper trail. The elevation gained at this point is 153 m.

About 10 minutes along the trail, a secondary road approaches from the left, but again the correct route is obvious. The road climbs in spots, but most of the elevation to the bluffs is accomplished toward the end of the trek.

Ten minutes beyond the aforementioned minor intersection, the path enters a small clearing with the bluffs in full sight straight ahead of you. The old road makes a sharp left turn and climbs upward.

Five minutes beyond the clearing, a very noticeable trail veers off to the right. Take this path, as it is the trail to the summit of Tappen Bluffs. It begins climbing momentarily.

For the next 10 or 15 minutes, the trail meanders, seemingly lost, up and down through a pleasant forest, which at times takes you away from the bluffs. However, all doubt about its destination is soon removed when you scramble very steeply for 5–10 minutes, depending on your fitness level, to finally reach the bluffs.

The steep climb then slackens to a plateau and you arrive at the summit a few minutes later.

This is certainly worth the effort. The vista of Tappen Bay, directly ahead, and the surrounding bluffs and mountains is stunning.


On the Trans-Canada Highway westbound about 14 km west of Salmon Arm, turn left (south) onto Tappen Valley Rd. Drive 4 km and turn left on Skimikin Rd. Go 2.8 km along Skimikin Rd. to an unmarked forest service road on the right, just past the Regional District waste transfer site. A recognizable characteristic of this gravel road is that it immediately forks left and right. Park anywhere, taking care not to block traffic, as this forest service road is quite active. If you have a high-clearance vehicle, you could attempt to drive the 1.3 km to the trail, but be aware that the road is rough, with many potholes and fist-sized rocks.

Hike Map
Gerry Shea

Gerry Shea

Gerry Shea lives in Kamloops with his wife and children and he is also the author of The Aspiring Hiker’s Guide 2: Mountain Treks in British Columbia.

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