Friends of Black Mountain is a non-profit group of volunteers, dedicated to promoting the responsible discovery, enjoyment and conservation of the Black Mountain - sntsk'il'ntən Regional Park, owned by the people of the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) and co-managed by the RDCO and the Westbank First Nation. 

Trail System Bigger and Better than Ever!

New trails and parking lots built
and old trails cleared
as Black Mountain
-sntsk’il’ntәn Regional Park readies for fall

Friends of Black Mountain volunteers were busy throughout October, clearing the Coyote and Ephemeral Ponds trails of encroaching weeds and cutting back grasses along the edges. In all, 12 hardy souls pitched in with a total of 84 hours of labour. This paid off in the clearing of 3.2 kilometres of trails.

We're taking a break now until spring, but will be on the lookout for fresh muscle then. If you're interested in , we're always looking for more muscle. Please contact us if you're interested in investing a little sweat equity to improve this spectacular corner of the Okanagan.  

We'll even throw in the fresh air, fabulous view, and exercise for free!

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Trail volunteer Jean-Claude (left) clears Coyote Trail. Volunteers Elizabeth and Peter reach the northern end of the trail, nearest to Tower Ranch.

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In other trail news...
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The Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) opened a new parking lot at the park's south gate, along Joe Rich Road, in mid-September. The new entrance also features a large, accessible washroom and signage. It leads via a freshly gravelled 1-kilometre former access road to the newly completed Flume Trail, another 1.5 kilometres of relatively easy walking.

 

The Flume Trail heads straight north along the park's western edge, eventually connecting to such well-loved trails as the Coyote, Ephemeral Pond, Hoodoo, Ridge and Grassland trails.

Meanwhile, work proceeded on the Swainson Road entrance to the park, where a new parking lot now features two washrooms and a water fountain for humans and dogs.

The RDCO, which co-manages the park, is continuing to work toward the full opening of this 640-acre grassland jewel. A significant area of the park remains closed while two more signature trails are being completed.

One, called the sntsk'il'ntən trail, will eventually run for 6.5 kilometres, connecting the Joe Rich and Swainson entrances, east of the Flume trail. The other will start at the sntsk'il'ntən trail, and zigzag for 2.3 kilometres through steep and rugged terrain to the summit of the mountain.

 

RDCO hopes these will be completed and the park officially opened in 2023.

 

And, in fact, there's been visible (and audible!) progress. In early October, local residents couldn't help seeing and hearing a chopper airlifting numerous sections of staircases up the mountain. The mission was to deposit the metal staircases at particularly gruelling portions of the future Summit trail.

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Click here to see a new map of the park, including trails, entrances and areas that remain closed to visitors!

Have you ever wondered how earlier residents of Kelowna kept themselves fit and entertained in winter? By skiing, of course!
 
Yes, long before Big White and Silver Star, there was a ski hill on the slopes of Black Mountain. As early as the 1920s, intrepid Kelownians would scramble up the hill, for the sheer joy of skiing back down again. Eventually they went high-tech with the addition of not one, but two rope tows!
 
We've put together a
special page that recounts the fascinating history of the Black Mountain Ski Bowl, along with modern efforts to bring those stories back to life.  

Bluebird Blues
A disappointing end to the 2022 season

The 2022 bluebird season has been disappointing and concerning, according to Carol Millar, tireless keeper of our Bluebird Trail. Only five Western Bluebirds and one Tree Swallow fledged this year, compared to 14 Western Bluebirds, nine Mountain Bluebirds and six Tree Swallows last year.

 

Carol has put a lot of thought into possible explanations for the disappointing outcome. Please read her report on our special Bluebird Monitoring Program page. 

 

NEWS FLASH

Read Carol's report from an important North American Bluebird Society conference, held in October, 2022.

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How to Report Concerns

As you walk, hike or bike around the park you might see something that concerns you and/or violates park rules. This can include motorized vehicles anywhere within the park boundaries, aggressive dogs or dogs off leash, horses where they're not supposed to be, cattle, or vandalized fences, signs or other park infrastructure. 

If you see something wrong, please report it as soon as possible to the RDCO Parks department. Their numbers are: 

Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m -- (250) 469-6232

After hours/stat holidays and emergencies only -- (250) 868-5299

You can also message them through a new online reporting system: https://requests.rdco.com

We thank you for helping keep the park healthy and safe for all.

Bench mystery remains unsolved

Despite the offer of a lucrative reward (a full-year family membership to Friends of Black Mountain!), no one has yet stepped forward with information leading to the solution of a big puzzle: Who installed the mystery bench?

 

The bench suddenly and inexplicably appeared earlier this year, high on the mountainside, affording a superb view of the park, Kelowna and Okanagan Lake. It carries a small plaque that claims the bench was made of wood from an old ski jump that once stood nearby, but that was decommissioned some 70 years ago.

Again, if you know who put it there, please get in touch with us to claim your reward. We might even throw in something bubbly and local!

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This is one of two benches that FoBM bought, and RDCO installed, along the Ephemeral and Coyote trails. There is no mystery about these.

A Gift for the Park's Future

Ian Pooley, the founder of founder of Friends of Black Mountain, and his wife, Carolyn MacHardy, have created an endowment fund whose purpose is to protect the environmental health of the Black Mountain - sntsk’il’ntәn Regional Park. Read more about this generous gesture here.

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Beautiful Birds

A signature FoBM activity involves fostering a healthy and flourishing population of bluebirds. For several years we've installed and monitored nesting boxes to encourage bluebirds to make the park their home. But we're not playing favourites: We love all birds! So visit our Bluebirds page to learn more about our special feathered friends, and check out our Mountain Ecology page to admire the many other raptors, songbirds and other winged wonders that love Black Mountain as much as we do.

Pleased to Report

In our first seven years of operation, FoBM is pleased to have chalked up some important successes. We worked with student volunteers to build several kilometres of gravel trails. We engaged in numerous conservation projects to count, monitor and protect natural species. We advocated for the protection of the grassland habitats from ranching activities. And, through our organized hikes and other outreach work, we introduced countless people to the marvels of the park. 

Enjoy the Park

Black Mountain - sntsk'il'ntən Regional Park, centred on the imposing Black Knight Mountain of eastern Kelowna, is a 640-hectare ecological jewel of the Okanagan. The park, of great meaning to the region's indigenous peoples, has been assembled in stages in recent years. We hope it will open in its entirety in 2022. Over the past seven years, our FoBM volunteers have worked hard to preserve the park's unique flora and fauna, while at the same time promoting its responsible and respectful enjoyment by the public.