Did you know that the South Okanagan offers some of the best biking in Canada? It’s especially great in May when the weather is sunny and warm, the regions 50 plus wineries are open and the crowds have yet to materialize. There are also a couple of standout events like the Giant’s Head Grind that will appeal to both bikers and hikers.
What are 5 of the best bike rides in the South Okanagan?
The Kettle Valley Railway from Myra Canyon to Penticton
My favourite bike ride so far is the Myra Canyon to Penticton section of the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR). You need a shuttle unless you want to ride up and back 160 kilometres and most people don’t. By starting in Myra Canyon the grade is a constant 2% downhill. Highlights include cycling over the railway trestles, the views, ice cream at Chute Lake Lodge, wildlife (we’ve seen black bears) and of course the wineries once you reach the Naramata Bench. On a hot day it’s a treat to cool off in the lake.
A shorter option is the out and back ride – on the bike trail between Penticton and Naramata. It’s a great one if you want to spend some time wine tasting.
Penticton to Oliver via the KVR
Enjoy some of the best of what the Okanagan offers when you do and out and back ride from Penticton to Oliver (or even Osoyoos if you’re up for a 100+ kilometre ride). This section of the KVR takes you past beaches, lakes, vineyards and the bird sanctuary at Vaseux Lake. Plan a stop in Okanagan Falls for ice cream.
Three Blind Mice Mountain Biking Trails
I haven’t done any of the trails that are part of the Three Blind Mice network but exploring these trails is next on my list. Located high above Naramata, avid local cyclist Randy Brown told me that “there are over 100 kilometres of singletrack trails for every level of rider – and the views over Okanagan Lake are magnificent.” He also recommends picking up a copy of SweetSingletrack. He calls it “the definitive guide for the close to 1,000 kilometres of trails in the south Okanagan.”
The Road to Apex Mountain Resort
A favourite of locals is the climb up Green Mountain Road towards Apex Mountain Resort. With a map and a sense of adventure you can explore the side roads – particularly Shingle Creek Road – and do a loop to return to Penticton.
The Trans-Canada Trail near Summerland
Some sections of the Trans-Canada Trail around Summerland are ideal for cyclists. Start near Conkle Mountain Park and head east towards Okanagan Lake. Continue to the Trout Creek Bridge and then pick up the KVR to continue to Penticton.
Special Biking Events in the South Okanagan in May
On May 21st the third annual Giant’s Head Grind, spearheaded by Ellen Walker-Matthews is happening. Ellen organized the event to honour the memory of her son Christopher Walker who died of colon cancer at 29. As she says “it’s a great way to keep her son close in a way that’s very positive.”
This year there are three options for up to 500 participants – hike to the top of Giant’s Head Mountain, bike the paved road to the top or if you’ve got the energy, do both. Funds raised are all tax deductible – and are used for improving the trails on the mountain and colon cancer research.
Fur Brigade Park near Summerland will be dedicated as a BC Heritage Site and to celebrate hikers and bikers are invited to tea on Mother’s Day, May 8th. You’ll have to cycle eight rough kilometres return to enjoy the tea but there is a reward – one of the best views in all of the Okanagan. Register beforehand via email at email@example.com.
For further reading check out South Okanagan Chain of Events Kickstarts Stellar Cycling Season.
Have you cycled anywhere in the South Okanagan?