Just under a year after our first Kettle Valley Railway adventure, my Dad and I set off for the next leg of the trail. This time we decided to make it a 2 day trip, and focus on the South Okanagan portion from Naramata to Osoyoos. This section of the trail is less challenging than the route we took the previous year. That being said – Naramata to Osoyoos and back in 2 days is no small feat for the amateur cyclist. For the meandering type, I would suggest splitting this into 3 or 4 days, and taking full advantage of all the wineries and fruit stands along the way. For this trip we decided to set out a little earlier in the year to avoid less appealing weather (ie: snow – see previous post). I will focus on the highlights. There is so much to take in on this trip that I could write for pages!
On a Friday after work, we drove to a Naramata/Penticton B&B called Three Blind Mice (The Copper Goose was not available for one-night bookings) which was simple but nice – and had a lovely garden and view of the valley. They also let us stash “Vernon” the VW Van in their driveway for the 2 days we’d be off cycling.
I have to say, the Naramata to Penticton portion of the K.V.R. is stunning. Absolutely stunning. The views of the Okanagan Valley are gorgeous, and the path itself is bordered by orchards, vineyards and wineries. It’s also one of the most popular sections of the trail for day trip cyclists and on-foot tourists (The trestels at Myra Canyon are also big for day tours). The weather was perfect for us, and we started off our trip on the (mostly) downhill path.
When we hit Penticton, we got a little bit turned around trying to navigate the bike route through town, but eventually made it to Skaha Lake, where we chose the west side path – property of the Penticton Indian Band. I’m still not sure that cycling along that land is actually permitted – but we figured we could claim ignorance if confronted. Lucky for us – we made it the whole stretch without issue. The only downside of this route is some very sandy sections which made it difficult to cycle, even with our super amazing mountain bikes.
We took a quick stop over in Okanagan Falls for some home-made Borsht (yum!) at Falls Restaurant – which is a cute diner-style place with great homemade food and picnic tables out front. By this point I was feeling it, but not yet worn out. We continued on toward Osoyoos on the reletively flat road (the railway bed was an option, but apparently not at all kept up, and we didn’t feel like carrying our bikes half the way there). On this portion of the trail we saw some deer, right on the side of the road – they were so close! One of the best things about these cycle trips is the wildlife encounters.
As we entered Oliver, the path is a specified bike/walking path – paved in some portions – gravel in others – and at points you are cycling along side a salmon spawning stream! (Season permitting, of course). From Oliver to Osoyoos, our path became steeper, as we climbed up toward some of the wineries. We made the extra insane trek up toBurrowing Owl Winery – since it’s one of our family’s absolute favorites – and got a wine tasting in.
By this point I was getting super tired, and it was getting later – so the last leg of our journey was less enjoyable for me- especially because the final 15 minutes or so was an uphill climb to our B&B. Once we arrived we were greeted by the extremely friendly hosts, who offered us a drink and obviously wanted to hear our whole story (our whole life story) – which, in other circumstances would be amazing, but both of us just wanted to eat and crash! (This would be a great Bed and Breakfast for a social traveler, as I have the feeling that the hosts keep up the B&B mostly for the guaranteed house guests). We did eventually escape the clutches of their incredible hospitality, and made our way into town to enjoy a wonderful dinner at Campo Restaurant – a popular spot for locals and tourists, and a favorite of ours (we’re biased – our cousins own the place).
The next day, after a lovely breakfast and another round of animated conversation with our lovely hosts, we set back more or less the way we came, taking the east side of Skaha lake on our return. The return trip is a bit of a blur – I was pretty tired. One of these days, I will have to dedicate more than one weekend a year to these cycling adventures.
For trail updates, maps etc. visit http://www.kettlevalleyrailway.ca/. We travelled with the book in hand – which we used all the time http://www.amazon.ca/Cycling-Kettle-Valley-Railway-Langford/dp/0921102887.