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Bike Myra Canyon On The Amazing Kettle Valley Railway

Bike Myra Canyon on the Amazing Kettle Valley Railway

If you’re visiting British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley and you love biking I’d recommend a full day of cycling on the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) or at the very least a bike ride over the trestles through Myra Canyon.

The Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) is an abandoned railroad track that winds across the Okanagan and Similkameen region in southern BC. All told it offers over 800 km of cycling. The 80 km section from Myra Canyon near Kelowna through to Penticton is one of the most popular, though it’s the short 12 km (7.5 mi) Myra Canyon section that draws the biggest crowds of all.

The section through Myra Canyon has been termed the jewel of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail. It was out of commission for five years after the 2003 forest fire destroyed 13 of its 18 famous wooden trestles. It didn’t reopen until June 2008 and since then it’s become tremendously popular, drawing up to 100,000 hikers and cyclists annually.

Trestles in Myra Canyon

Great fun biking through Myra Canyon over the trestles

History of the Kettle Valley Railway

The Kettle Valley Railway’s history date back to the early 1900’s when silver was discovered near Nelson, British Columbia. Years of surveying and building culminated in an official rail opening in 1915. In later years the economic importance of the railway line decreased and some sections or subdivisions as they are called were phased out and by 1990 the last of the railway lines was abandoned. Fortunately the railway line was converted to trail and now 600 kilometres (360 miles) are open for backcountry use.

Where does the Kettle Valley Railway go?

The KVR trail is true wilderness. It winds through the backcountry of southern British Columbia passing through a range of environments including vineyards, orchards, forests, lakes, deserts and mountains. Small centers are connected via the trail; places like Beaverdell, McCulloch, Chute Lake, Coalmont, and Brookmere which are mere dots on the map and at most have a few places to stay. Tunnels, bridges, wild animals, rattlesnakes, extreme heat and thunderstorms are some of the hazards one might encounter.

"View of Kelowna from the Kettle Valley Railway"

View of Kelowna from the Kettle Valley Railway

Myra Canyon by Bike

The ride through the Myra Canyon is glorious. Its gentle grade is easy so you can concentrate on the views including the airiness of some of the trestles. When you reach Trestle #6, the longest and highest trestle on the line, you’re at the midpoint, 55 m (180 ft) above Pooley Creek below. Absorb the history of the railway too. About a kilometre before Trestle #1 keep an eye out for a rock oven, used to bake bread for the crews building the railway. Loaves were reportedly 2.5 feet long and each worker would eat one a day.

The Myra Canyon section is suitable for people with a range of cycling abilities – from families to experts. Cycle over eighteen trestles and through two tunnels over 20 kilometres (12 miles).

"Trestles in Myra Canyon"

Trestles in Myra Canyon

There are two tunnels on the Myra Canyon section & more if you continue to Penticton

There are two tunnels on the Myra Canyon section & more if you continue to Penticton

If you have more than half a day then I highly recommend cycling from Myra Canyon to Penticton – a distance of about 80kms. Monashee Tours based in Kelowna can shuttle you to the start and pick you up at an agreed upon rendezvous site at the end of the day. At about the half way mark Chute Lake Resort appears. Stock up on cold drinks, burgers and homemade apple or rhubarb pie before continuing. Buy extra cold drinks if it’s a hot day. It took the better part of 6 hours to cycle the 80 kms and the last two hours were 34 °C and dehydration was definitely a problem.

Although it’s downhill all the way from Chute Lake to Penticton, on a railway grade of 2.2%, it’s by no means an easy ride. You have to deal with a great deal of sand which takes a light tough on the handlebars. Watch for rattlesnakes through the Rock Ovens and shortly after you pass Hillside Winery look for The Trail Store – a perfect place for a summertime cold drink, slushie or ice cream cone, all provided by an incredibly hospitable family!

The kettle Valley Railway high above Penticton

Note the surface for cycling once you’re through with the trestles

'kettle Valley Railway'

Ice cream stop on the Kettle Valley Railway near Penticton

Views from the Kettle Valley Railway near Penticton

Views from the Kettle Valley Railway near Penticton

Cycling the entire Kettle Valley Railway?

Affiliate links ahead, which means I receive a small percentage if you purchase anything through them at no extra cost to you. This helps me provide free content on this site. 

If you want to cycle the entire Kettle Valley Railway then it’s a good idea to purchase the bookCycling the Kettle Valley Trail by Dan & Sandra Langford. They provide route notes and lots of helpful information though their layout is confusing. 

Monashee Adventure Tours have 12 tours related to cycling on and around the Kettle Valley Railway. Consider a sunset tour, multi day tours of assorted sections of the Kettle Valley Railway, an Osprey Lake Tour, a trestles and tasting tour and a Naramata Bench wine tasting tour. If you’re interested in doing your own tour but need help with shuttles anywhere between Castlegar and Hope then give them a call too. National Geographic Adventure Magazine chose Monashee Adventure’s BC Highline Tour as one of the Top 25 Best New Trips in the World for 2010 – high accolades indeed for the 4 day/3 night tour that includes the Myra Canyon and a wine tasting component at Sumac Ridge.

Myra Canyon Bike Rentals also contacted me and had this to say:

There is a bike rental on the parking place on the end of the Myra Forest Road.
Customers are able to rent bikes on the parking place and bike the 18 trestles and two tunnels.
Myra Canyon rents all kinds of bikes and child trailers.We rent bikes for 4 hours or full day.

Some sections of the KVR are truly first class and well worth cycling. In particular you won’t go wrong with the Myra Canyon section.

You might also want to read: Where to Stay if You Bike the Kettle Valley Railway

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

One of the top one day bike rides in Canada takes you through Myra Canyon on the Kettle Valley Railway

Leigh McAdam

 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 23 Comments
  1. It is a must do bike trip!
    We rented our Bicycles from Myra canyon Bike rental this summer when we went cycling for a day. The 24km circuit was perfect for our family. At one of the stop points, there were some ‘wild’ tame chipmunks that the kids could touch. We had a blast. I Would recommend this trip and Myra canyon bike rental to anyone. Plus Myra Canyon bike rental also has a consession stand and I have to say.. enjoying some cold drinks upon return was a great finish of the day.

  2. What a great adventure, whether by bike or foot. And from your description, there’s a little bit of something for everyone – half-day bike excursions, hard-core cycling trips, etc. I’m saving your post for future reference. Now that I live in Montana part-time, the Okanagan Valley is not that far away.

    1. There is a little bit of something for everyone. We saw lots of families heading out on short sections of trail, and plenty of young people too. By far the most popular thing to do is to cycle over the Myra Canyon Trestles & it’s super easy to do that in just half a day. That leaves you time to get back to Kelowna for a swim in the afternoon.

  3. Very cool! I’ve been wanting to get to BC for years and this is why. The trail looks amazing; I’m in love with those trestles.

    1. It’s popular for both walking & biking. The trestles burnt down a number of years ago and it reopened in 2008. The Myra Canyon area has become very popular now – and for good reason. If you go in the summer head off early in the morning before it gets too hot.

  4. Hello! I’ve just been reading your article on the Myra Canyon/KVR and wanted to let you know I am in the early stages of creating a new and hopefully user friendly information site for the Midway-Penticton section of the KVR (plus additional info for Penticton – Osoyoos). I will be cycling the trail in early June this year and will be adding photos and information from that trip to the site. I hope to be able to help people with their cycling/hiking plans especially for multi day trips! The site is up and running at kettlevalleyrailtrail.com. Although the site is not finished, I am more than happy to help people with their plans/questions about the trail as best I can!
    cheers,
    Paula Sheridan

  5. There is something about the beautiful color of the water in Canada. Last summer I canoed Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada and these pictures remind me of the lakes there. Gorgeous photos.

    1. Lucky you canoeing Quetico. I have always wanted to go to that park. My husband & I have talked about going but the logistics of getting there are more complicated than many places.

  6. I think it’s wonderful that abandoned railway lines are being converted into trails. This trail looks great. Love the photos — the Penticton area is beautiful.

    1. There are now nearly 600 kms of trail that have been turned over for recreational use that were all part of the abandoned Kettle Valley Railway. Many people cycle all or sections of it – with some sections being very remote. Around the Myra Canyon area you see hikers but elsewhere it’s primarily a biking destination.
      @Jeremy – it is a stunning area with such diverse scenery. I can’t tell you how much fun I had biking Myra Canyon & the ride to Penticton past the vineyards is so worth doing. Another time.

  7. Leigh, this is beautiful! Would love to do this and wish I had more time when I was in BC this weekend. A shame that the fires destroyed so much of this area but glad to see it is growing back. Still a beautiful area to hike! WOW!

  8. I keep reading comments that ATVs are allowed on the KVR. This is really putting my wife and myself off making the trip. Can this be true? It seems crazy.

  9. If I was doing a bike tour through the okanagan and was looking at going from Naramata to Kelowna through the KVT rather than through Highway 97, would touring bikes be okay for that ride? Just curious if the trail is so rough that you would need a mountain bike.

    1. @Tdk We have hybrid bikes and managed OK. There are a few sandy sections where a mountain bike would come in handy – but you could always get off a walk that part. Enjoy – it’s a great trail. PS If you can go from Kelowna to Naramata because then you have the grade working for you.

  10. I want to bike the section from kelowna to Penticton with my husband for our aniversary. I thought i heaard a rumor that there was a place about halfway, but closer to Penticton that you could stay for the night and have a good meal and a cold beer, is this true and if so can you tell me the name?

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