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Bike Myra Canyon on the amazing Kettle Valley Railway

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A recent trip to British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley included a full day of cycling on the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR). 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 kilometers (360 miles) are open for backcountry use.

"First trestle in Myra Canyon"

First trestle in Myra Canyon

The KVR trail is true wilderness. It winds through the backcountry of southern BC 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

Short sections can be hiked but every summer more and more mountain bikers are discovering the joys of this trail. It’s possible to cycle one day sections near some of the bigger centers like Penticton and Kelowna. One of the most scenic sections to cycle is the 20 kilometer section through the Myra Canyon, about 1000 meters above Kelowna. Fires in 2003 burnt 12 of the trestles and blackened over 20,000 hectares. Through the efforts of the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society, private individuals and several layers of government, funding was secured and the trestles were rebuilt. The Myra Canyon section of the Kettle Valley Railway reopened in 2008; the 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 kilometers (12 miles).

"Trestles in Myra Canyon"

Trestles in Myra Canyon

"Trestle close up with blackened trees"

Trestle close up with blackened trees

"View through one of two tunnels in Myra Canyon"

View through one of two tunnels in Myra Canyon

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 hot, 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 above the Naramata Bench"

The Kettle Valley above the Naramata Bench

'kettle Valley Railway'

Ice cream stop on the Kettle Valley Railway near Penticton

'Kettle Valley Railway'

Penticton area views on the Kettle Valley Railway

If you want to cycle the entire Kettle Valley Railway then it’s a good idea to purchase the book – Cycling 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.

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Leigh McAdam

HikeBikeTravel

*** Monashee Adventure Tours charged me (though not my family) a reduced rate for the Myra Canyon to Penticton shuttle.

Author Hike Bike Travel

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • Donna says:

    Sounds like a must do bike trip! Thanks for the great description and pictures.

  • Leandra says:

    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.

  • Donna Hull says:

    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.

    • 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.

  • Randy says:

    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.

  • Nancie says:

    I would love to walk this. Beautiful photos.

    • 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.

  • 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 http://www.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

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • James says:

    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.

  • Tdk says:

    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.

    • @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.

  • cerah says:

    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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