Kettle Valley Rail-Trail?

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
I discovered what could be the core of an incredible bicycle tour: The Kettle Valley Rail-Trail, which stretches from Hope, BC to around Midway, BC. With additions, side-trips, and getting to and from the trail this could be the heart of a grand two-plus week adventure.

This route would likely be at the outer limits of what is possible on an e-bike. There are a couple of 100km+ sections which have no or very little support or even outlets available (extra batteries and wide tires would be mandatory, I think). Cell service outside of towns is likely to be spotty to nonexistent. There will be large and possibly dangerous animals. Any breakdown or injury is likely to play out like a Jack London story.

It sounds like precisely what I am looking for.

So I have two questions:
  • Has anyone here ridden any sections of this trail? I'm particularly interested to hear from anyone who has ridden the section through the Coquihalla and anyone who has ridden the very wild stretch from Myra canyon to Highway 3 (Rock Creek). Those look to be the most challenging and problematic sections of the tour.
  • If I were to do this tour in late May (after the Canadian Long Weekend) or early June would anyone be interested in accompanying me on sections of this tour? In particular anyone who wanted to keep me company on the two previous sections they would be most welcome.
 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
I live in the Okanagan, Vernon actually, and ride the rail trail nearly every day. I've posted about it somewhere on here. I also worked on the Coquihalla highway in the eighties and saw the original rail line before it was vandalized and most of the wooden trestles burnt down. I store one of my bikes (Pedego Interceptor Platinum) at Pedego Oyama which must be the best location for a bike dealer in existence being right between Kalamalka and Woods lake a few feet from the trail. Parts of the trail aren't open yet so check before coming. Every time I ride it I meet people from different parts of Canada and foreign countries. The trail only opened a month ago.
 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
  • Has anyone here ridden any sections of this trail? I'm particularly interested to hear from anyone who has ridden the section through the Coquihalla and anyone who has ridden the very wild stretch from Myra canyon to Highway 3 (Rock Creek). Those look to be the most challenging and problematic sections of the tour.
  • If I were to do this tour in late May (after the Canadian Long Weekend) or early June would anyone be interested in accompanying me on sections of this tour? In particular anyone who wanted to keep me company on the two previous sections they would be most welcome.
I wouldn't be a good partner to accompany you on any of the sections you would be interested in riding, I'm 80 years old and just up for the easier parts but if you come this way you're welcome to stay with us and I'd ride with you on our local sections.

I worked 35 years for our Ministry of Transportation and know all the sections of the trail your talking about but not as a cyclist unfortunately. The most beautiful part of the trail to ride would be the Coquihalla as you have surmised but likely the most difficult. You probably know that section of the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) closed in the fifties due to excessive snowfall which routinely exceeded fifty feet (before we turned metric).
 
Last edited:

Cowlitz

Well-Known Member
Guess I better get a passport. I wish for the days before there was such a requirement. Or maybe one of those "enhanced" driver licenses. Sigh.....
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Guess I better get a passport. I wish for the days before there was such a requirement. Or maybe one of those "enhanced" driver licenses. Sigh.....
Well, I am considering on the tail end of the trip either crossing over from Grand Forks to Bonaparte Lake Resort and then on to Omak and then back home. So perhaps we could link up there.

Of course this is all in the "gee, this sounds like a good idea" planning stage.

I wouldn't be a good partner to accompany you on any of the sections you would be interested in riding, I'm 80 years old and just up for the easier parts but if you come this way you're welcome to stay with us and I'd ride with you on our local sections.

I worked 35 years for our Ministry of Transportation and know all the sections of the trail your talking about but not as a cyclist unfortunately. The most beautiful part of the trail to ride would be the Coquihalla as you have surmised but likely the most difficult. You probably know that section of the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) closed in the fifties due to excessive snowfall which routinely exceeded fifty feet (before we turned metric).
Glad to have you along. My plan right now is to ride from Princeton through (or past, really) Summerland to Penticton, then up a long ways to the Myra Canyon section.

Google maps doesn't yet show the trail through the Coquihalla, but right now it looks like the most problematic section is going to be the first couple of days out of Hope. There is a resort (Coquihalla Lakes Lodge) about thirty miles form Hope, but other than that there aren't any places to charge for a long ways. From the lodge to Princeton is a little over fifty miles so that should be doable.

Hope, BC to Coquihalla Lakes Lodge (Google Maps) -- this map understates both the distance and elevation gain on this section.
Coquihalla Lakes Lodge to Princeton, BC (Google Maps) -- this maps also does not show some trail sections. And some trail sections are washed out and the reroutes involve ladders (!) so we might be riding more highway shoulder than we'd prefer.

Past Penticton there isn't really anyplace to charge until you get to Idabel Lake, which is about 60 miles with substantial elevation gain. That will likely be the most problematic section and will likely require some spare batteries. From Idabel Lake (which is about three miles off the trail) it is a long (65 miles), gradual downhill with few services to Rock Creek, where there are a few motels and eateries. There would also be food and outlets at Beaverdell, which is about 30-odd miles from Idabel Lake, so perhaps a good halfway point for lunch.

Penticton, BC to Idabel Lake Resort
Idabel Lake Resort to Rock Creek, BC
 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
Guess I better get a passport. I wish for the days before there was such a requirement. Or maybe one of those "enhanced" driver licenses. Sigh.....
Ya, I married a girl from California, we lived in Canada, I just didn't feel like going to Vietnam Nam, and we went down to visit her family and friends for decades and I loved the people and country. We stopped visiting when we started getting harassed every time we crossed the border. I also wish for the old days.
 

Cowlitz

Well-Known Member
I used to live in the Okanogan Valley and we'd go skiing in the Okanagan. I left and moved back here in January. I have just done research and it looks like I can get the proper license locally. Must look into that.

I am sorry for the harassment. The only time I had a bit of trouble was when I had no sports equipment with me. The Canadian border person seemed to think I had a gun in the glove box, ordered me to open it, which I did. Out fell a chattering skull toy which I had forgotten was there. She had a hard time getting composed after that and I was waved on through.

I know some people in Tulameen.
 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
I used to live in the Okanogan Valley and we'd go skiing in the Okanagan. I left and moved back here in January. I have just done research and it looks like I can get the proper license locally. Must look into that.

I am sorry for the harassment. The only time I had a bit of trouble was when I had no sports equipment with me. The Canadian border person seemed to think I had a gun in the glove box, ordered me to open it, which I did. Out fell a chattering skull toy which I had forgotten was there. She had a hard time getting composed after that and I was waved on through.

I know some people in Tulameen.
Did you ever ski at Silver Star?
 

Cowlitz

Well-Known Member
Did you ever ski at Silver Star?
Yes. Once. My ski buddy broke a rib that day. He found that out a couple days afterwards. He fell on his ski pole. I was laughing, then he didn't get up very fast. We also skied Big Flat, but mostly went to Apex because we got half price tickets when we showed our Loup Loup season pass.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Did you ever ski at Silver Star?
Actually I go there and Sovereign Lakes for Nordic Skiing two or three times a year.

Some years they have an early May re-opening of the trails and if you hit it early in the morning there will be great skiing.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
I would really enjoy joining in on this trek. It sounds like a challenge but I think I would be up to it. 50-70 miles in a day is something I've done but only with modest elevation gain. Perhaps a test and training schedule would be in order.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
I discovered what could be the core of an incredible bicycle tour: The Kettle Valley Rail-Trail, which stretches from Hope, BC to around Midway, BC. With additions, side-trips, and getting to and from the trail this could be the heart of a grand two-plus week adventure.

This route would likely be at the outer limits of what is possible on an e-bike. There are a couple of 100km+ sections which have no or very little support or even outlets available (extra batteries and wide tires would be mandatory, I think). Cell service outside of towns is likely to be spotty to nonexistent. There will be large and possibly dangerous animals. Any breakdown or injury is likely to play out like a Jack London story.

It sounds like precisely what I am looking for.

So I have two questions:
  • Has anyone here ridden any sections of this trail? I'm particularly interested to hear from anyone who has ridden the section through the Coquihalla and anyone who has ridden the very wild stretch from Myra canyon to Highway 3 (Rock Creek). Those look to be the most challenging and problematic sections of the tour.
  • If I were to do this tour in late May (after the Canadian Long Weekend) or early June would anyone be interested in accompanying me on sections of this tour? In particular anyone who wanted to keep me company on the two previous sections they would be most welcome.
This looks like my kind of trail! Were I 20 years younger, I'd join you in a New York minute!

I hope you can get the trip going. If so, post pics!!!
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
I would really enjoy joining in on this trek. It sounds like a challenge but I think I would be up to it. 50-70 miles in a day is something I've done but only with modest elevation gain. Perhaps a test and training schedule would be in order.
Well that is also something we can easily work up to over the course of the trip as well.

If we started in or near Bellingham it would be two easy days to Hope which would help shaking down everything before the real adventure starts :).

From what I've seen the only really tough days elevation-gain wise would be out of Hope through the Coquihalla and out of Penticton. The second one is probably a much, much gentler grade and the trail is known to be in better condition there so I am not grossly concerned. My bigger concern is the very poor trail conditions between Hope and Summerland which may make that section at best not very fun. Combining that with being committed to pretty long days on poor trail surfaces implies that we'll need at least 1.5kw of batteries per rider.

Since very little of the ride is going to be on pavement and a lot of it is going to be on poorly surfaced roads I'd consider an off-road tire -- which will of course have a negative impact on range.

I'm thinking of making a scouting trip of the western sections of the trail in late April of next year.

I found these videos on Youtube of one gentleman's adventure on the trail in 2015:



 

Cowlitz

Well-Known Member
Hope they don't go after him for the wine quality comment. :)

I find myself thinking about part of this trip but I should figure out and then practice how to fix the rear tire on my Rad mini in case it has a flat. Should do that anyway.

Perhaps a spin along the Osoyoos trail would be good practice riding.
 

JohnRC

New Member
For those who are thinking of taking the KVR trail I have some thoughts for you that might help.
Most of the hills on the trail are low grade and pretty easy to pedal up. Trains generally only use very low grades.
IF you are going to go up the Coquihalla highway it will be hard the hills are huge and slow. I am not aware of a trail following old train tracks.

We used to have a cottage at Osprey Lake which is half way between Princeton and Summerland. I have pedaled from Osprey to Princeton and from Princeton to Tulameen. Plus I have done some walking along the part from Osprey to Summerland. The ride between Tulameen and Princeton is really nice, pretty level and great scenery, good places to go for a swim in the river. BUT!! Beware of loose gravel, sand and dirt. Unfortunately, the jerks on ATV’s and dirt bikes dig up the trail very badly. Horses do not help either. You will have to deal with that. There is a long tunnel under highway #3 that looks scary but it is amazing. It is the “light at the end of the tunnel” experience.

From Princeton to Osprey it is all up hill on a low grade. Great scenery, maybe a herd of elk of you are lucky. Chain Lake and Osprey lakes have camping grounds. The less travelled part is from Osprey down to Penticton. Pretty much down hill all the way.

From Pentiction up the east shore of Okanagan Lake is again a low grade hill but it is long. You go through all sorts of vineyards and orchards. Great views. I have only been to the tunnel at the top but friends have come from Rock Creek on highway #3 which is the starting point of the KVR.

The best time to do this is about the second or third week of July when the High pressure system has built in and it looks like it is going to stay for a while. And the cherries are ripe!
John
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
I discovered what could be the core of an incredible bicycle tour: The Kettle Valley Rail-Trail, which stretches from Hope, BC to around Midway, BC. With additions, side-trips, and getting to and from the trail this could be the heart of a grand two-plus week adventure.

This route would likely be at the outer limits of what is possible on an e-bike. There are a couple of 100km+ sections which have no or very little support or even outlets available (extra batteries and wide tires would be mandatory, I think). Cell service outside of towns is likely to be spotty to nonexistent. There will be large and possibly dangerous animals. Any breakdown or injury is likely to play out like a Jack London story.

It sounds like precisely what I am looking for.

So I have two questions:
  • Has anyone here ridden any sections of this trail? I'm particularly interested to hear from anyone who has ridden the section through the Coquihalla and anyone who has ridden the very wild stretch from Myra canyon to Highway 3 (Rock Creek). Those look to be the most challenging and problematic sections of the tour.
  • If I were to do this tour in late May (after the Canadian Long Weekend) or early June would anyone be interested in accompanying me on sections of this tour? In particular anyone who wanted to keep me company on the two previous sections they would be most welcome.
Hi I have ridden some of this trail. It is fun for sure but it still gets cold in May ...... may I suggest July or August .
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Hi I have ridden some of this trail. It is fun for sure but it still gets cold in May ...... may I suggest July or August .
... except that by August all of it is likely to be full of smoke or on fire.

My plan is to do a scouting trip to the most problematic sections (through the Coquihalla and west of Princeton) in late April or early May. From the research I have done there is a route through most of the Coquihalla, with much of it on a gas pipeline access road through the Coquihalla valley which is open to trail users. Some other sections (like around Juliet) are prone to landslides and are problematic for a cyclist.

Towards Princeton the major issues seem to be very poor trail surface, some collapsed tunnels you must detour around, and missing bridges over ravines that you also must detour around.

Coquihalla Lakes Lodge is around 60km and 1300m of elevation gain from Hope. While the distance is fairly short that much elevation gain and all of the route finding struggles will likely make that a very tough day. One thing to check out is if there is camping with outlets where we can recharge bikes in that area.

From Coquihalla Lakes Lodge to Princeton is over 90km. Given the questionable road surfaces and reroutes this section will probably require extra batteries.
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
... except that by August all of it is likely to be full of smoke or on fire.

My plan is to do a scouting trip to the most problematic sections (through the Coquihalla and west of Princeton) in late April or early May. From the research I have done there is a route through most of the Coquihalla, with much of it on a gas pipeline access road through the Coquihalla valley which is open to trail users. Some other sections (like around Juliet) are prone to landslides and are problematic for a cyclist.

Towards Princeton the major issues seem to be very poor trail surface, some collapsed tunnels you must detour around, and missing bridges over ravines that you also must detour around.

Coquihalla Lakes Lodge is around 60km and 1300m of elevation gain from Hope. While the distance is fairly short that much elevation gain and all of the route finding struggles will likely make that a very tough day. One thing to check out is if there is camping with outlets where we can recharge bikes in that area.

From Coquihalla Lakes Lodge to Princeton is over 90km. Given the questionable road surfaces and reroutes this section will probably require extra batteries.
I am proud of you for going in May but I still think you better bring snow tires
 

Cowlitz

Well-Known Member
I am proud of you for going in May but I still think you better bring snow tires
Well, it is supposed to be an El Nino year.....:)
I got a special radio chipped driver's license so guess I can now again play up in the Okanagan and return to the Okanogan. Might start out with....curling :) before bike season. I'm game to go ride up north on the line that goes from Osoyoos to Penticton but bike friend says it is too cold to bike. Oh well.