Pillar Provincial Park is home to a 60-foot tall rocky hoodoo hidden in the forest near Falkland. The Okanagan isn’t exactly known for its hoodoos and rock pillars, which makes this trail a cool gem.
It’s a short, moderate hike that’s well worth the drive. It’s not every day you get to check out such a unique place — especially in the Okanagan.
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Trail Stats for the Pillar hike
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trail Type: Out-and-back
- Length: 1 km (see map)
- Elevation gain: 81 m
- Trailhead: Chase Falkland Road
- Park Size: 2 hectares
Trail Information for the Pillar
The Pillar is located in Pillar Provincial Park, a tiny 2-hectare park that’s 10 minutes from Falkland and 30 minutes from Chase.
The park was created in 2004 to protect the unique rock formation, but it’s had significance to the local Indigenous peoples for much, much longer. The Pillar was used as a boundary marker between the Secwépemc and the Syilx people.
Even though the provincial park is a little outta the way, the road is entirely paved and it’s easy to get there. There’s also a nearby lake and a small resort with cabins and camping, but other than that, there’s not much in the area. It’s a beautiful place for a little getaway and a hike!
The trail to the Pillar is short, but it’s a bit of a grind. If you’re an experienced hiker you’ll have zero trouble with this trail, but if you’re a casual explorer, you might find it harder than you’d expect. Fair warning.
It has an average 26° grade, which isn’t super-duper steep, but it’s not exactly easy, either. The trail can also get pretty slick (even in the middle of summer) thanks to the slippery dirt and loose rocks near the top. Wear boots with grip and consider bringing hiking poles for extra balance at the top. And watch your step! Go slow if you need to.
Directions & Parking
Pillar Provincial Park is hidden away on a quiet road between Falkland and Chase. The whole road is paved so it’s easy to get to the trailhead.
The trailhead for the Pillar is 10 minutes from Falkland and 30 minutes from Chase. It’s right off the side of the road, directly across from the Pillar Lake boat launch. There’s a small pullout where you can park, but there’s only room for a couple of cars. Luckily, this is a pretty quiet area so you probably won’t have any problems grabbing a spot.
What to expect from the Pillar hike
Pillar Provincial Park is located just outside of Falkland and Chase.
As you approach the trailhead, you’ll drive next to a 2 km long lake called Pillar Lake. It’s very pretty and would be a great place to go for a kayak, SUP, or canoe. You could easily make your hike to the Pillar into a full-day or weekend adventure!
To get to the trailhead, park at the boat launch, cross the road, and walk 150 m north. You’ll notice a small dirt trail heading into the forest and a small brown sign with a hiker on it. You’ve found the trailhead! There’s not much here, just a small outhouse and some signs telling you to not damage the pillar. But you already know to respect nature, right?
The Pillar Trail
Within the first few meters of the trailhead, you can actually look up the hill and see the Pillar! It’s not super easy to see, but you can juuuuuust make it out through the trees if you squint hard enough.
Almost right from the beginning, you’ll head uphill and continue a steady trek upwards.
The trail is well-trod and obvious, but narrow and sometimes rocky. Trees occasionally fall across the trail which can make it a little difficult to navigate, especially if you’re not used to that kinda thing. The forest is full of tall pine trees and dense, low brush.
For about 150 m you’ll hike north away from the Pillar. The trail then doubles back on itself and makes a beeline for the hoodoo. As you approach the Pillar, the edge of the trail drops off quite suddenly and loose rocks cover the trail. Be careful here because it would be quite easy to fall down the hill. And no one wants that!
The Pillar Viewpoint
The Pillar itself is very cool! It rises out of the forest floor and puts the surrounding trees to shame.
It’s made of conglomerate rock and looks quite lumpy — almost like it would fall over at the slightest touch. And at the very top rests a huge boulder which is thought to weigh 8 tons! All in all, it looks like the column is ready to come crashing down.
Now that you’re freaking out, don’t worry. The Pillar is actually pretty sturdy. You can walk right up to its base to admire the rock, but please don’t touch or try to climb it. It’s important to respect these natural areas so that everyone can continue to enjoy them. Sadly, though, people have graffitied the hoodoo. It makes me sad and reminds me why it’s so important to learn about Leave No Trace.
If you want to check out the Pillar from above, the trail keeps going up the hill. Be extremely careful here, though, because it’s not easy. It’s steep with very few foot- or hand-holds. I always hike downhill super slow, but this part of the trail sketched me out. One slip and you could easily tumble down the hill. Remember, it’s always harder to go down slippery slopes than it is to go up (I always have to remind myself about this).
As always, it’s important to be prepared when you head out on a hike — even short ones like this. The Pillar isn’t a heavily trafficked trail and it is a little outta the way, so you could easily be alone out there. It’s always better to be overprepared than under.
- Water bottles: There’s no easy place to get drinkable water here, so you’ll want to bring plenty of your own. Usually, I prefer water bladders over bottles, but since the Pillar is so short, a water bottle is enough. My favourites are reusable bottles like S’well and Hydroflask.
- First aid kit: You don’t need a huge first-aid kit for this hike, but some basics are a good idea.
- Bear spray: Always bring bear spray with you in the Okanagan. Brushing up on your bear safety knowledge doesn’t hurt, either.
- Hiking poles: These aren’t necessary, but you’ll find ’em handy if you want to scramble up the final bit of the trail.
- Hiking boots or runners: Wear a good pair of hiking boots or runners that have some grip because the Pillar trail can get slippery.