Penticton is home to some of the best mountain biking around and offers options for beginner to advanced riders. Take, for example, the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) trail, which is an abandoned railway bed that winds between Midway and Hope. Thanks to efforts of numerous groups, volunteers and patrons, it is a multi-use corridor and part of the Trans-Canada Trail (one of the world’s longest networks of trails that, when completed, will stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific across Canada). It was a former transportation corridor for trains so consequently the grades never exceed 2.2 percent creating a recreational trail suitable for hiking and mountain biking at all skill levels. The 600 kilometres (373 miles) of the KVR crosses landscape that ranges from desert, orchard, vineyard, forest to mountains with trestles and tunnels and scenic vistas.
I’m all for adventure, however, sometimes there just isn’t enough time to explore the whole region. If you’re like me and not an accomplished mountain biker, drop into the Penticton & Wine Country Visitor Centre to learn more about what options there are for biking in the area.
One such option for families or recreational mountain bikers is the route from Chute Lake to Penticton. About 20 miles north of Penticton past the village of Naramata, Chute Lake Resort, at an elevation of nearly 4,000 feet (1,220 metres), serves as a great starting point. It’s a fantastic camping area with cabins available, a boat launch and rentals available. The western-style lodge is also home to a licensed dining room. Area tour operators offer transportation to the drop point as well as bike and gear rentals.
When a friend from Calgary visited, my husband was kind enough to load our bicycles into the back of the truck and take us to Chute Lake. If you don’t have access to a vehicle, at least one tour company in town, HooDoo Adventures, offers a shuttle to Chute Lake from local hotels. While you can ride the trail both ways, this arrangement takes the tough uphill out of the equation and leaves you with a leisurely meander back to Penticton. Even for a novice like me it was highly manageable.
We followed the trail as it dropped from the pristine trout-laden mountain lake through alpine meadows, forest, historic hallmarks, tunnels, scenic viewpoints of Okanagan Lake, former stations, vineyards and wineries, orchards, and trestles until we arrived in the city. We took our time to read the signs and learn about the history of the railway, including background on the rock ovens found en route. These 13 rock ovens, found along the Naramata section, were built mostly by the Italian stone masons at the construction sites so workers could enjoy freshly baked bread.
An added bonus of this route is that you pass by wineries. If you like, drop in for a bit of tasting as you go! As for me and my friend, we saved our wine tasting until our final stop at Perseus Winery where we waited for my husband to fetch us. Next time I’ll visit a few more of Naramata Bench Wineries Association members along the way and grab dinner-to-go at The Bench Artisan Food Market.
Biking, Thompson Okanagan
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