The Kettle Valley Rail Trail (KVR) is one of the most epic biking adventures in British Columbia. It offers a glimpse into the province’s history following the path of the original Kettle Valley Railway which opened in 1915. Now the decommissioned tracks are home to a 650km network of trails and connected pathways from Hope to Castlegar that hikers, bikers and horseback riders can enjoy.
Although some bike-packers make it a goal to travel the entire 650km stretch of the KVR trail in one trip, It is best to break it down into different sections.
The 80km single day ride from Myra Canyon to Penticton is without a doubt the most SPECTACULAR section on the entire KVR.
You will have the opportunity to cross massive wooden trestles spanning deep forested canyons, ride through massive rock tunnels and cruise past Naramata’s famous wineries above the beautifully blue Okanagan lake.
This is a bucket list ride for all cycling enthusiasts. I’ve created this GUIDE to provide you with all the knowledge you need to tackle it yourself!
|Time (Round Trip)||6-10 hours|
|Dogs||Yes (On Leash)|
|Direction||North to South (Myra Canyon to Penticton)|
|Average Grade||-2% (Downhill)|
Myra Canyon is located 25km South of downtown Kelowna. Follow McCulloch Rd from South Kelowna until you reach the turnoff on the right to the Myra Forest Service Rd. The Myra FSR is gravel and has potholes but should be no problem for all 2wd and 4wd vehicles. Just take things slow if you have low clearance.
The ride is best done in a one-way fashion from Myra Canyon to the city of Penticton, so you have two options when it comes to planning transportation, bring two cars or rent a shuttle. If you choose to bring two vehicles, drop one in Penticton in the morning and drive the other to Myra Canyon. Thanks to the exploding gas prices it was cheaper for us to park in Penticton and organize a shuttle ride from Hoodo Adventures to Myra Canyon.
All you will need are the clothes on your back, a pack with water and food and a decent mountain bike. The trail shifts between packed gravel, loose gravel, sand and dry/wet mud. There are lots of potholes and things can get very bumpy. Although a mountain bike is not required, I’d recommend leaving your road bike at home and opt for a bike with some level of front suspension to make the rattling more comfortable.
The ride begins at Myra Canyon, the most spectacular section of the KVR. In just 10 short kilometers you will adventure through the canyons biking over 18 wooden trestles and through 2 massive rock tunnels. If you’re not up for an 80km ride but want to get a taste of the KVR, I would urge you to just cycle the 10km of Myra canyon, it is simply unbelievable. The Myra Canyon section of the ride is the most trafficked and maintained portion of the trail, but typically takes the longest because you are going to have to battle crowds and will surely stop to take pictures.
Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park & The Bellevue Trestle
At the 12.5km mark you will reach the Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park. This is the perfect spot to turn around if you just wanted to cycle Myra Canyon. At this point the trail becomes a little bit more rugged and you will begin to ride on uneven surfaces, potholes, soft dirt and sand. Continue another 10km until you arrive at the Bellevue Trestle. This is the longest trestle on the entire KVR and is actually a steel girder bridge. It towers high spanning across the Bellevue creek. If you’re not afraid of heights make sure to stop in the middle and take a look over the edge!
Chute Lake & Chute Lake Lodge
The next 10km of trail weaves along the mountainside, catching glimpses of Okanagan Lake from behind the valleys. At the 30km mark you will pass Lebanon Lake and continue to see a few more ponds as the terrain becomes a little more lush and marshy. Soon after you will arrive at Chute Lake, the 40km mark. At the far end of chute lake you will find the Chute Lake lodge which is the perfect halfway point to stop for some food and refreshments!
Rock Oven Park
All along the KVR you can find rock ovens. These rock ovens were built by workers between 1911 and 1915 and served as ovens to cook bread and food for the tired railway builders. The Rock Oven Regional park is a collection of trails leading to 10+ stone ovens. There are some ovens located right on the side of the KVR and others requiring a bit of a hike. They are all pretty similar so I wouldn’t recommend killing yourself to hike to see all of them, but make sure you take some time to at least check one rock oven out. They’re super cool!
Big Adra Tunnel
At approximately the 50km mark you will arrive at the Big Adra Tunnel. This spiral rock tunnel is 489 meters long, the largest on the KVR. A large part of the tunnel has been closed due to instability but you can still walk in about 100 meters. Make sure to dismount from your bike before entering because it gets dark and spooky in there!
Little Adra Tunnel
After the Big Adra Tunnel you will begin a slow switchback descent towards Naramata. The lower you go the better the birds-eye views of Okanagan lake becomes. It practically feels like you are riding your bike along the shoreline!
At the 60km mark you will reach what I believed to be the best viewpoint on the entire ride, the Little Adra Tunnel. Don’t let the name fool you, the Little Adra tunnel is EPIC. You will be rewarded with insane panoramic views of Okanagan lake and the many wineries below. Make sure to take some pictures here.
Naramata & Penticton
The last 20km of the ride is gorgeous and the change in landscape will breathe new life into your tired legs. The lake views are constant and the colors of the vineyards are beautiful. As you pass through Naramata you are probably going to forget that you are in Canada all together!
If time allows why not stop for a wine tasting or cold pint before rolling into Penticton. YOU DESERVE IT!!
- Even though you are hiking downhill you will still be working pretty hard. If the Okanagan sun is shining, you are going to want more water than you think!
- Carry along extra tire tubes and a small pump in case you get a flat along the ride
Bring Your Wallet
- Bring a visa card or some cash since you might be tempted to stop at the Chute Lake lodge or at one of the wineries along the way!
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!