The Golden Mile Stamp Mill Trail hugs the west side of the Okanagan Valley just South of Oliver, British Columbia. In years past you could walk from the old Fairview Townsite all the way to Tinhorn Creek Winery, however, part of this trail runs through private property and access has now been denied to hikers on the North end of the trail. This is unfortunate for those of us who enjoy a wander through the natural desert habitat that surrounds us in Oliver but we do feel that hiking the trail from the Tinhorn side and then returning the same way is still a fantastic way to spend a morning or afternoon.
Start your hike at Tinhorn Creek Winery (but save the wine tasting until you are done as there are some steep parts!). We LOVE how Tinhorn Creek has embraced this hike. They could have closed off access as the other private property owner has but instead they have erected trail markers and provided parking for hikers. We went into their wine tasting shop to ask where the trail started and they gave us a map with detailed directions and the area history. Thank you Tinhorn Creek!!!!!
The hike begins with a walk through Tinhorn's vineyards, truly a beautiful piece of land.
At the edge of Tinhorn's property there are two fences. One is a unique fence to keep the rattlesnakes out of the vineyard (a good time to remember your rattlesnake safety knowledge!) and then a large fence to keep out the deer and bear. When we went both of the gates were already opened.
This is where the "real" trail begins. The trail becomes quite steep and goes up the side of the mountain. We had no problems doing this hike with our young children though, so as long as you have a decent degree of fitness you will be fine.
Once you get to the top, take a moment to appreciate the views. You can see all of Oliver to the North and all the way to Osoyoos Lake to the South. The view from the top gives a fantastic perspective on just how much the surrounding land in Oliver is dedicated to agriculture.
Continue on the trail until you reach a plateau where you will have two options. Stay to the left and you are a short walk to the ruins of the old Stamp Mill or stay to your right to continue on the Golden Mile Trail until you need to turn around at the private property. We did both options.
Taking the left hand trail leads you into a beautiful little gully. This is the perfect place to have your picnic under the shade of the trees with the Stamp Mill Ruins in the background.
The Stamp Mill was built in 1895 for separating the mined metals from rock. The rock was brought down to the mill by rail cars from further up the mountain. What is left of the mill is old rock walls and a large wood stove.
Just below and to the South of this is Tinhorn Creek (the creek not the winery!). We took the trail down to the creek to have a rest and soak our feet. It is one of those perfect spots where the sound of the bubbling water, the sun shining through the trees, and the fresh clean air can soothe your soul!
Returning the same way we came in we made it back to the plateau where we headed North down the Golden Mile Trail. This trail has no steep inclines or declines and follows the curve of the hillside through open meadows and pine forest. If you could get your mountain bike up the steep part at the beginning of the hike this would be a perfect trail to mountain bike.
As I said earlier, you have to return the way you came. What we loved about this trail was that it gave a unique perspective into not only the history of the gold rush here in Oliver but into the South Okanagan's natural habitat as well.
Please remember to pack out what you packed in. We actually picked up a bit of garbage on our way. It is so sad to see such a beautiful area trashed by the hikers who are supposed to be enjoying it!!!! If you are so inclined, head into Tinhorn's wine shop and show your appreciation for the maintenance of the Golden Mile Stamp Hill Trail by sampling and purchasing a bottle of wine!