Those looking to spend a pleasant afternoon cycling in British Columbia should look no further than the scenic Kettle Valley Railway Trail, which winds more than 300 miles through the backcountry of southern B.C.
When we visited in 2012, our objective was a particularly intriguing 7.5-mile stretch that winds through precipitous Myra Canyon, crossing 18 wooden trestles and traversing two tunnels, to the Ruth Station entrance gate. Because the trail follows the abandoned railroad, the grade is a gentle 2 percent, and at 4,100 feet elevation, it offers distant glimpses of the valley and Okanagan Lake far below.
Much has changed on the trail over the years. A major forest fire damaged or destroyed a dozen of the trestles and two of the metal bridges in 2003. Happily, they were all rebuilt, with safety features added, and the trail reopened in 2008, officially a National Historic Site of Canada. Since then two storm shelters have been added, and it has become a destination for cyclists from across Canada and the United States.
The most popular access for pedestrians is at Myra Station, reached from Kelowna, which is at about the midpoint of 80-mile-long Okanagan Lake. From the parking lot, a 1.5-mile hike crosses seven trestles and includes one of the tunnels. Wintertime visitors can now go on guided snowshoe tours of Myra Canyon through Monashee Adventure Tours. And summertime guests may be interested in The Okanagan Trestles Tour, held on July 1, with a ride from Kelowna to Penticton. Rental bikes, shuttles, tours and guides are also available. For a map, photos and more information, click here.
(This story has been updated from the original, published in April 2012.)