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Biking the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan

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Biking the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR), an old, abandoned railway bed that has a new lease on life, is one of the top things to do the Okanagan Valley in spring, summer and fall. Located in southern British Columbia, it was once named by Outside Magazine as one of the “top 10 trails to cycle.”

The Kettle Valley Railway is broken into subdivisions or sections with a total length of approximately 600 kilometres. In theory  biking the Kettle Valley Railway from Castlegar in eastern British Columbia to Hope which lies about two hours east of Vancouver is possible – but count on the better part of two weeks if you plan to do that.

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Biking the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan
Biking the trestles through Myra Canyon

The Kettle Valley Railway is a fantastic bike trail

The KVR is especially great since it’s possible to cycle it in sections depending on how much time you have.

The trail covers a wide variety of terrain. It will take you through remote backcountry, past lakes, forests and over old railway trestles. In the Penticton area you’ll find yourself cycling through vineyards and orchards.

I have cycled sections of the trail from Myra Canyon through to Chute Lake, Penticton, Okanagan Falls and into the Oliver area. It was all fabulous!

Note: There aren’t a lot of resources related to the KVR but if your serious about biking a good stretch of it this book Cycling the Kettle Valley Railway by Dan Langford and Sandra Langford will be useful.

My suggestions if you want to bike the Kettle Valley Railway

Plan on a stay of a few days in the Penticton or Naramata area. There are lots of campsites, B&B’s and small inns to choose from.

Some options include the CastleRock in Naramata, the Summerland Waterfront Resort & Spa, the Burrowing Owl Winery and Guesthouse, D’Vine Dreams B&B and the Sandy Beach Lodge and Resort.

Renting bikes to cycle the KVR

Either bring your own bike or rent bikes from either Okanagan Bike Rentals or the Freedom Bike Shop in Penticton. You can also rent from Myra Canyon Bike Rentals out of Kelowna.

Grab a map from a tourist information office and head off. It is an easy cycle from Penticton down along the canal, along the west side of Skaha Lake and into Okanagan Falls. (Try an old fashioned milkshake at Lollies in Okanagan Falls).

For more energetic people I highly recommend riding up the road to Chute Lake from Naramata and then hooking up with the Kettle Valley Trail.

The road up is steep but quiet and the views are pretty darn good. The reward is the ride down. The grade is a steady 2% for 18 km if you stop in the Naramata area or 28 km if you continue onto Penticton. Views from the Little Tunnel at Mile Marker 122 are fantastic.

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway on a lovely section near the Naramata Bench within sight of Lake Okanagan
View through the tunnel closest to Penticton
View through the tunnel closest to Penticton

Wine tasting galore along the Kettle Valley Railway

Did I mention the other reward? There’s lots of wine tasting to be done at wineries found all along the Naramata Road. You can count on being able to pick up fresh picked fruit as well.

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan
It’s not hard to tell where the irrigation ends
View of Lake Okanagan across the vineyards
View of Lake Okanagan across the vineyards

The Oliver section of the KVR

The Oliver section can be done as a day on its own, especially so if you’re into wine tasting. There is a nice loop starting at the tourist information center in Oliver that takes you on bike paths which are both paved and unpaved and then along the length of Black Sage Road.

Consider a lunch stop at the Burrowing Owl Winery.

Preparation for biking the KVR

It’s not all fun and games on the KVR and I believe a word of caution is in order. Once you are past the village of Naramata it will immediately feel remote so do go prepared.

Carry water, food like energy bars, a map, rain gear and a cell phone. Cell coverage is excellent. Also, bring a few bike tools, a bike pump  and a tire repair kit for a flat tire.

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan
Spring and fall are excellent times to bike the Kettle Valley Railway as its not as hot

Use some common sense with regards to the following:

There are rattlesnakes around. Never attempt to pick one up or this might happen.

Be bear aware. We saw a big black bear but it scurried off. Carrying a can of bear spray would be a good idea.

Do not touch poison ivy. To identify it, look for a plant with three shiny leaves. In the fall the leaves turn red and yellow. If you inadvertently make contact with it wash the area immediately with soap and water.

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan
What a treat to find water on when you’re biking the Kettle Valley Railway 

Happy trails. Biking the trails that make up the Kettle Valley Railway should put a smile on your face.

Map showing location of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail
Map showing location of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail

Other Okanagan area blogs that might be of interest

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Biking the Kettle Valley Railway, Okanagan Valley, BC

 

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