Cottonwood Estate is a great place to hike. At 60 hectares (148 acres), it offers a landscape that climbs gently from 600 m to 778 m (1,968 to 2552 feet) over a distance of 963 m (3,159 feet). The landscape is composed mostly of short rises followed by near level small plateau areas. In use for one type of activity or another, but mostly logging, since the 1920’s there are over 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of dirt and gravel roads that can be hiked, or bicycled with an all-terrain bicycle. Hiking is probably the most satisfactory however, as it allows taking in the natural flora and fauna of the property at a more leisurely pace.
If they so desire, guests at Forgotten Hill Bed & Breakfast have the opportunity to go for “pre-planned” hikes. Instructions and directions to some of the more interesting places on the property are available to explore the place, and get the most out of a stay. (The print-outs are available from Reception; and a list of naturally growing plants and flowers, with illustrations, is available to accompany the curious on their hike).
The first of five possible hikes takes guests to one of the best viewpoints in the South Okanagan, on top of an enormous rock outcrop that is located on the western side of the property and which overlooks all of Naramata. The lookout covers from Peachland in the north, approximately 27 kilometers (16.7 miles) distant, to Okanagan Falls in the south, 29 kilometers (18 miles) away. From this perch, the most distant recognizable place is Apex Mountain, snow capped most of the year and about 37 kilometers (23 miles) to the south west. While even more distant mountains to north west are as far away as 50 kilometers. This is a place where gets the feeling of being on top of the world. This hike is 780 m (2,560 ft.) long, one way; with approximately 240 m (790 ft.) of it that climbs up the road directly behind Forgotten Hill Bed & Breakfast.
The second hike leads to the same viewpoint, but from the south. This shorter hike avoids the road and has visitors walking up a little forest, then up a shallow gully. From there, they climb up the rock outcrop along its spine, a relatively gentle slope of some 220 m (720 ft.) to the viewpoint. This hike is 380 m (1,250 ft.) one way.
The third hike proposed is longer, but easy: from Forgotten Hill up to the Cottonwood Estate vineyard, around it and back. The total distance covered, return, is just under 1.4 km (0.8 mile). At an elevation of 680 m on average (2,200 ft.), the Cottonwood Estate vineyard is one of the highest in the region, and the highest vineyard in Naramata. The complimentary bottle of Pinot Gris guests find in their rooms is made from the grapes grown there.
Hike number 4 is the longest. A total of 4.3 kilometers (2.67 miles) are covered by hiking up to some of the more distant upper parts of the estate. Ninety five percent of the hike is along dirt and gravel roads, and explores some of the property’s history and some of its past and current uses. Explanations for some of the artifacts that can be seen on the land are provided. From Forgotten Hill to the farthest north eastern point of the hike, the elevation changes from 650 m (2,130 ft.) to 776 m (2,546 ft.); and from there, it’s downhill all the way.
The fifth and last hike proposed is either long or relatively short depending on what one does once past our KVR gate. The KVR, the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, is part of the Trans Canada Trail and our western boundary for 1 kilometer (3,280 ft.). Once on the KVR, guests head north and walk up to the Little Tunnel 4 kilometers 1.25 miles) away, one way; or head south toward Penticton. This is a route that is ideal for bicycles and hikers, but the road from Forgotten Hill is steep in parts of its 310 m (1,017 ft.) length. The KVR itself, being an old rail bed, has a grade that is never more than 2%, and is generally less in this section which overlooks Naramata and beyond.
Of course, the alternative to all this exercise is… to grab a comfortable chair, a glass of wine and just enjoy the view from Forgotten Hill!