THE KVR - GRAVEL RIDING SKILLS REQUIRED

THE KVR - GRAVEL RIDING SKILLS REQUIRED

riding the kvr railwayWhen we think of the Kettle Valley Railway, the Myra Canyon trestles are top of mind. Designed by Andrew McCulloch back in the late 1800’s to service the mining industry, an engineering marvel, with sections that can be experienced on your adventure motorcycle. The Myra Canyon trestle section is now designated a National Historic Site and is off limits to motorized vehicles. However this doesn’t mean there aren’t other sections of the route that are still ridable.

A good circle route that I like begins in Kelowna and takes you high above Lake Okanagan, It’s always impressed me that a steam train ran through this elevation above the lake. The route provides some amazing views of Kelowna, Lake Okanagan and the Naramata bench. The fire of 2003 engulfed many portions of the KVR but ten years later the forest and vegetation are regenerating at an incredible rate transforming the barren landscape.

You begin your ride in Kelowna taking Lakeshore Road south, towards the Kelowna Mission district, eventually you will hit an intersection where Lakeshore bears right towards the lake. You continue straight ahead on Chute Lake Road. This will take you through the southwest Mission area, Chute Lake road will veer right into the Kettle Valley development. Don’t follow Chute Lake, instead head straight through on Upper Mission Drive (there’s a lot of construction in this area) look for a dirt road called Gillard Forest Service Road on your left. There may be signs for the KVR or Chute Lake Resort. Once you,re on Gillard it’s easy to follow it to the KVR. Keep in mind this road can be very rough although it’s better maintained since the trestles have been rebuilt. The service road climbs steeply up the side of the mountain and eventually crosses the Kettle Valley Railway bed, which looks like a road at this section. Turn right on the KVR and you’re on your way to Naramata.

Again this section of railway/road can be rough especially in early spring there could be a lot of wet sections and windfall. I suggest doing this ride mid summer if you’re intimidated by gravel road riding. There are some soft narrow sections so take your time and enjoy the view and the history. About midway along you will pass Chute Lake and the rustic Chute Lake Resort. If you like antiques it might be worth a stop and walk around as the resort has quite a collection of you name it? It's possible to take Chute Lake Road down to Naramata from the resort but the best of the railway bed lies ahead when you cross the small wooden bridge. This section of the railway is narrower and will give you the real feeling of what it was like to chug along on the old steam railway. Note the KVR is a popular bike and hike route so you will encounter other adventure seekers along the way as well as vehicles coming the other way. More and more there’s pressure to close sections to motorized traffic. Keep you speed down and respect the other users of the trail.

You will eventually encounter a decommissioned tunnel and will have to take short detour down to the next section of rail bed, the track does a complete 180 degree turn just passed the tunnel. This is my favorite section of the route, you will pass by some original rock ovens built by the immigrants that constructed this section of the railway and slowly descend towards Naramata. Again respect the rights of others, you should consider signing the petition (kvrnaramata.com) to keep the KVR accessible to all users.burger 55 penticton

As you approach Naramata you will be rewarded with incredible views of the lake and wine country below. I try to stay on the railway bed as long as possible, there are a few obvious roads down to Naramata. The town is a prime agricultural community, the KVR linked the village by rail in 1914 and it was considered one of the most difficult sections to complete. Naramata is now established as a significant part of Okanagan Wine Country and worth a visit. The Naramata Heritage Inn and Spa is a historic building with a nice outdoor patio. Naramata road is a great paved section to ride that winds it’s way through rolling hills and many vineyards and wineries. It’s a fantastic ride! Penticton offers a wide variety of places to stop for a bite to eat. The Hooded Merganser is located on the lake in the Penticton Lakeside Resort/Casino. I like Burger 55, check out the reviews and location on Tripadvisor. It seems like a natural stop for adventure riders! As you wind your way back to Kelowna on highway 97 north look up in the mountains across the lake and try to imagine building a railway up there back at the turn of the century. This ride will take the better part of a day.

Jeff Kumagai
Freelance Motorcycle Rider

 



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