If you want to explore Beautiful British Columbia, If you are a cyclist, or just like cycling – I suggest you put on a pair of highly padded bicycle shorts and hit up the Kettle Valley Railway. The trail varies from easy to challenging, and you can pick whatever portion suits your level and mood. I’ve done two stretches of the trail, both times with my dad. My mom’s not much of a hard-core cyclist, so I borrowed her bad-ass mountain bike and got some good father-daughter bonding time in.
The first year we planned out a 3 day trip. Starting at Idabel lake (near McCulloch), riding to Naramata, then taking two days back – with a stopover at Chute Lake Resort (I use the work “resort” loosely – more on that in a moment.). This was a little ambitious. We made it, but my thighs ached to the bone after our first very long day. It may have been heightened by the fact that we set out in October, and encountered snow – yes, snow, at Myra Canyon – which was spectacular by the way (Below – a photo of me freezing my thighs off). Day one was an 8 hour day – with some wash-boardy sections along Chute Lake Road that made me glad I bought padded shorts – although they really only took the edge off. Unfortunately, this section of the trail is shared by the occasional vehicle, so the path isn’t so smooth. Once we passed Chute Lake Resort (on the way there) we took a short cut along the main road towards Naramata rather than the bike path, which was big time downhill, and probably cut about an hour off of our time at least. At that point we were pretty worn out, and decided to pick efficiency over scenery! There was wine to be drank, after all!
Our first night we treated ourselves to a lovely little B&B in Naramata called Copper Goose. The rooms were quaint and clean, and the breakfast menu was to die for. In the morning, I had the eggs Florentine – Yum. I’ve learned from our two trips that Bed and Breakfasts are big business in the South Okanagan – and they know how to do it right.
Day 2 we took it easy, or at least that was the plan, opting for what looked to be a short-cut -heading off the main path to check out the Kettle Valley Railway ovens – where the rail workers used to bake loaves of bread (pretty cool, actually). On the map, it seemed to be the easier route, cutting directly across the hairpin shaped trail. What we didn’t pay attention to was the elevation change, and some portions had us pushing our bikes nearly straight up hill along a narrow hiking trail. I felt like I was on an episode of “The Last 10 lbs Bootcamp”. Except I probably just managed to burn off my rich breakfast, and maybe the wine from the night before. I would recommend this path for hikers, maybe not so much cyclists with loaded up packs. Once we made it through the tough part, we did end up seeing a herd of Cariboo (I know!!) so it was totally worth it.
Night #2 we crashed at Chute Lake Resort after about a 6 hour day. This was more entertaining than comfortable, I’d probably suggest camping or renting one of their cabins. We stayed in upstairs rooms in the main building, which must have had the same orange shag carpet from the 70’s. The service was also more entertaining than good, which, when I’m traveling, I don’t mind so much because it tends to add to the adventure. It definitely wasn’t “the customer is always right” kind of a place. For example, when asking if we could have breakfast at 730am we were answered with a ‘no-nonsense’ “No” (apparently they don’t want to be working that early) and we were also denied when requesting our eggs poached. Not unfriendly, just their way. Luckily, we thought this was hilarious. Also, we got some weird looks – I assume because they thought I was dating a much older man – this happens a lot. I tend to overcompensate in these situations by prefacing every sentence with “Hey DAD..” or “So I was talking to MOM…”. I don’t really understand the confusion, we kind of look related. Anyhoo – Definitely different than the hospitality we were met with at the Copper Goose. We agreed that the location was practically begging for an indie horror flick to be shot there. I would recommend a one-night stop-over for the dramatic-adventurer type.
Day 3 we set out for another 6 hours, back tracking over the same trail as Day 1. This time we were met with lovely weather, and we took our time, as this was mostly up-hill. Near the end of our trip we were pushed off to the side of the trail by a herd of cattle self-navigating along our path. This was a little bit scary at first, but they pretty much just sauntered past us at their own pace – no harm done. Thankfully the sunshine stuck around for the whole day, keeping our spirits up and guiding our tired bodies back home. We felt pretty good about ourselves, and I found a new love – the cycling trip. We’d be back for more the following year.