Located at the north end of Vernon, on the west side of Swan Lake lies what I believe is one of the truly underrated and overlooked parks in the area. We first stumbled across this park when we had a brief stint living in the are a few years back. We used to go for a run down from our house and complete the 1.7km loop before heading home. The parking lot is located about 1 km off of Old Kamloops rd and is not all that well signed. You drive through the parking lot at Stawn’s Honey and keep to the right side as you wind your way down the dirt road to a decently sized parking lot.
The clockwise loop takes you up a slight hill to a wooden park bench for tranquil views of the grass lands, farm fields and the peaceful Swan Lake. There are display boards on the path indicating everything about the area from past history to the birds of prey in the area. As you continue on you find yourself at the cat tail lined marshy edge of the lake. A two storey viewing platform has recently been constructing that amplifies that area dramatically. I would recommend bringing along a set of binoculars and a camera with a descent zoom to capture the wild life in the area.
We are not big bird watchers but the reeds were home to variety of ducks, Red Wing Black Birds and various others. In the early spring the grass is all flattened down from the winter snow fall but during the summer the trail can be lined with 4 foot high shoots that are home to numerous other creatures.
As we continued on, the path takes you along side a small creek that eventually flows through town and terminates in Okanagan Lake. From here as we looked east we noticed a Bald Eagle soaring overhead looking for food. As we followed it through the sky we noticed two others perched in a dead tree just across the way. Another couple hundred meters further took us back to the gated parking lot with our one lone vehicle.
Swan Lake Nature Reserve makes for a perfect little after dinner stroll when the sun is setting and the wild life is feasting. With is short distance it can be easily done by all with having our nearly 3-year-old daughters running the entire loop. The area however has basically no shade other than the tower so if you are planning your walk in the dead of summer be sure to bring along a hat and some water. The trail can be fairly dry and dusty so some closed toed shoes will keep your feet clean, and maybe protect you from any snakes you may encounter.