The Richter Pass has long been a priority for conservation efforts in the Okanagan. The primary role of the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area is to protect the dry grasslands and open forests that represent one of the four most endangered ecosystems in Canada.
The protected area comprises four sites: Mt. Kobau, Kilpoola, Chopaka East and Chopaka West and protects all known Canadian sites of at least three plant species and habitat for an astonishing number of rare and endangered birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
The protected area has few developed trails. There are opportunities for hiking on the old roads that traverse the sites. Coulee Road passes over Black Mountain. There are various old 4-wheel drive trails leading up Kruger Mountain. Parking space is limited.
Mt Kobau trails: (Mt. Kobau Lookout and Chopaka Lookout Trail). Both trails begin at the parking area atop Mount Kobau.
Mt Kobau Lookout Trail is a short distance up to where the former fire lookout tower stood. There are great views over the Okanagan valley.
The 3 km Chopaka Lookout Trail (formerly known as Testalinden Lake Trail) passes through mixed sub-alpine forest and open grasslands including the red-listed Vasey’s sage plant community. The trail provides interesting landscape diversity and excellent views of the Similkameen Valley and the Cascade Mountains. This trail was re-routed in 2016 and no longer passes Testalinden Lake. See link above under “Maps and Brochures” for a downloadable map of the trails.
Kilpoola Lake is stocked with rainbow trout from the Summerland Trout Hatchery. It is a small lake with no facilities. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Bicycles must keep to roadways. Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia. Cycling is permitted. Recreational mountain biking is allowed on designated roadways only.
Please note that bicycles with electric assist motors (e-bikes) are not allowed on the trails within South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area. E-bikes are restricted to park roads and areas where motorized use is permitted. The only exception to this policy will be for authorized and identified trail maintenance bikes conducting work on behalf of BC Parks.
South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area is open to the discharge of firearms, bows and crossbows during the lawful game hunting season as listed in the BC Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis. Horses are permitted, motor vehicles are not. Parts of the Mount Kobau section of the park are above 1,700 metres in elevation. The restriction on operation of motor vehicles above 1700 m elevation applies.
Access to the Mt. Kobau site is via Kobau Lookout FSR, which is 10.75 km west of the intersection of Hwys 3A and 3 (Osoyoos).
Access to the South Kilpoola and East Chopaka sites is via Kruger Mountain Road, which is 6.75 km west of the intersection of Hwys 3A and 3 (Osoyoos).
The four sites that make up the South Okanagan Grasslands are in the Richter Pass 9 km west of Osoyoos on Hwy 3. They are separated by both crown and private land. The Mt. Kobau site is at mid to high elevation and roughly bounded by Tinhorn Creek in the northeast, Cawston Creek in the northwest and Hwy 3 in the south. Chopaka West is centered on Little Chopaka Mountain and roughly bounded by the Similkameen River, Nighthawk Road and the international border. Chopaka East encompasses Black Mountain from Richter Lake to the international border. The Kilpoola Lake valley separates Chopaka East from the Kilpoola site, which encompasses Kruger Mountain. These locations are very general, the boundaries between protected area and private land are irregular.
BC Parks honours Indigenous Peoples’ connection to the land and respects the importance of their diverse teachings, traditions, and practices within these territories. This park webpage may not adequately represent the full history of this park and the connection of Indigenous Peoples to this land. We are working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to update our websites so that they better reflect the history and cultures of these special places.