Trail information and most images sourced with great appreciation from TrailsBc.ca.
This section of the route covers the area from Brookmere, south of Merritt, to McCulloch Station, east of Kelowna.
The Okanagan is best known for being an area of desert-like grasslands, ranches and orchards, surrounded by softened mountain peaks and hoodoos. Within the region, the route follows the Kette Valley Railway. The KVR is a former CN rail line that ran between Hope and Midway, BC. Out of the trail's total 500 km length, about 330 km of it is within the Okanagan.
The rail trail corridor is owned by the Province of BC's Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO), administered by the Recreation Sites and Trails BC department, which oversees trails, recreational sites and campsites on crown lands and other provincial land assets. The trail was donated to the province by CN with the vision of creating a non-motorized cross-country rail trail experience, particularly for bicyclists.
Trail conditions along the KVR are constantly changing and hard to predict - uncontrolled access to the trail by motorized vehicles in recent years has led to a major deterioration of the trail surface, and until a plan is implemented to solve this issue, trail users are encouraged to plan ahead for a challenging - but overall rewarding - journey.
We highly recommend bicyclists to use sturdy equipment on the trail. Mountain bikes are best, and strongly recommended - a crossbike or hybrid will NOT be joy to ride on the BC Epic 1000. Front suspension isn't necessary, but it can increase comfort on bumpy washboard sections. Tire width should be 2 inches, and wider tires (though slower) will be helpful when encountering deep sand, loose gravel and numerous babyheads (rocks) embedded in the railbed. As a former railway, steep inclines are virtually non-existant but the surface makes up for this. Snow can stick to the trail near McCullough (just east of the Myra Canyon) into mid May on north-facing slopes. Welcome to the BC Epic`s "Wild West"!
Brookmere to Osprey Lake
The area encompasses the communities of Brookmere, Tulameen and Coalmont to the west of the town of Princeton, and climbs into the grassy highlands on its way to Osprey Lake - home to many seasonal cabins and camp sites.
The scenery is quite unique along the trail, a particular treat for those traveling along the KVR from the Fraser Canyon - the interior is often warm and dry. Ponderosa pines and grass grow under the blazing sun and blue sky.
Some highlights along the trail include:
Red cliffs and hoodoos along the Tulameen River
Long tunnel under highway 3 (just west of Princeton)
Bridge of Dreams
Great views and hairpin turns between Princeton and Jura
Osprey Lake to Summerland
The route in the Summerland area lies almost entirely on the Kettle Valley Railway; there is a short stretch along public roads and trail between the Fenwick trail head and the Trout Creek Trestle. The trail conditions are often better in the Summerland vicinity than other areas of the KVR due to less concentrated motorized traffic that can be found elsewhere.
When approaching Summerland from the west, the KVR is still an active railway - watching the steam locomotive chug along the tracks is a popular attraction in the region - so the trail leaves the railway, following an excellent gravel path. This combination is called "Rail with Trail" or RWT for short.
The trail ends within Summerland but the route is quite easy to follow, traveling through vineyards and orchards.
The trail from Trout Creek south to Penticton is techically a gap in the Trans Canada Trail as the KVR land is being transfered to the local First Nations band. Our interim route follows highway 97, but unofficially, the KVR is accessible and possible to follow all the way to Penticton. However, as no maintenance is being performed on this stretch during the land transfer process, the trail surface is more rough.
Highlights along the KVR between Osprey Lake and Summerland include:
Improved trail surfaces in the Thursk Lake area towards Summerland
Orchards and vineyards along the trail
Tourist train still running along the KVR in Summerland
Trout Creek Bridge (72m above the creek)
Penticton to Chute Lake
The route within the Penticton area arrives downhill from Summerland and makes it way along the shore of Okanagan Lake before continuing north along the Kettle Valley Railway through Naramata and Rock Ovens park. This stretch of trail is probably the most popular portion of the KVR - everyone from joggers, hikers, bicycling wine tasters and hardcore mountain bikers can be found along the trail.
The climb from Naramata to Rock Ovens can often be a hot, thirsty ride so be sure to carry enough water. The Naramata Woodwackers often stock up a supply of drinking water bottles at the Ovens.
Views along the trail continue to get better and better as one heads uphill, but Little Tunnel is exceptional.
Your journey along the KVR in the Penticton area is a spectacular part of the Trans Canada Trail. Some highlights include:
Great trail conditions from Penticton to Naramata
Little Tunnel and views of Okanagan Lake
Rock Ovens Regional Park
Adra Tunnel (closed but under restoration)
Chute Lake Resort
Chute Lake to Mcculoch (Myra Canyon)
The Myra Canyon section of the Kettle Valley Railway was built between 1912 and 1914. It was part of a "Coast to Kootenay" railway line that linked Midway, in British Columbia's Boundary District, with the Canadian Pacific Railway main line at Hope. The railway carried freight and passengers through the Myra Canyon until passenger service ended in 1964 and the last scheduled train went through in 1973.
The province purchased the rail corridor from Canadian Pacific Railway in 1990. The Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society, established in 1992, has been instrumental in leading the restoration and maintenance of the corridor and trestles. Hundreds of volunteers have worked to cover the open trestle ties and timbers with boardwalks and to install railings to make the route safe and accessible for all ages and abilities. As a result, the trestles became a cornerstone of the Provincial Rails to Trails network, a vital link along the Trans Canada Trail, as well as a significant tourism asset attracting as many as 50,000 visitors a year.
In January 2003, the Myra Canyon section (from Mile 84.5 to Mile 90.5) of the Kettle Valley Railway was designated a National Historic Site.
The Kettle Valley Railway concludes its journey through the Okanagan as it winds its way from the Myra Canyon towards Hydraulic Lake at McCulloch Station. This portion of the trail is quite flat, dropping only about 20 metres in elevation at the halfway point, then regaining it at the lake.
The biggest highlight of the area is of course Myra-Bellvue Provincial Park, with its extensive trestles and tunnels.
Although the Kettle Valley Railway reaches its highest point within the Okanagan region during its travels through the Myra Canyon, the section adjacent to the east - the Okanagan Highlands - is nearly as high, peaking at 1265 metres above sea level. In fact, this area can often see snow clinging to the trail on north-facing slopes as late as late May, though it rarely hampers with travel plans. That said, those camping at Hydraulic Lake should be aware that nights can get cold ouside the height of summer.
About 1.5 km east of Hydraulic Lake, the trail decends another 20 metres to Summit Lake, before entering the Boundary region - and continuing downhill to the communities of Carmi and Beaverdell.