NICKEL PLATE LOOP (GRAVEL SECTIONS)

NICKEL PLATE LOOP (GRAVEL SECTIONS)

In the summer of 2011 I discovered this interesting loop for riders on GS, Dual Sports or Adventure bikes looking for a taste of back road riding and a little adventure. Heading south from Kelowna on Hwy 97, exit at the main Summerland turn off (this will be Rosedale Ave). There’s a gas station at the exit and it’s not a bad idea to check your fuel and top up. Continue along Rosedale Ave. which turns into Prairie Valley Road, stay on Prairie Valley and watch for Doherty Ave and turn right, next turn left on Bathville Rd. Princeton Summerland Road will be a hard right turn it’s a three way intersection. Once on Princeton Summerland it’s easy to navigate. The road is paved for a while but will turn into a good gravel road and end up paved again as you approach Princeton. The road in some sections follows the Kettle Valley Railway route and the Trans Canada Trail. There are a few lakes and small communities along the way. Jura is close to Princeton and your next (left) turn is onto Old Hedley Road, it might be signed as Hwy 7. The road runs on the north side of the Similkameen River. This is a good motorcycle road that heads east toward Hedley and keeps you off the main highway (Hwy 3) for a while. Eventually the road ends and you have to take Hwy 3 east towards Hedley for a short distance.

The town of Hedley is an interesting stop with the old mine looming high on the cliffs above and great mine museum. It’s a town worth exploring and there are a few interesting attractions to hunt for, like the what I like to call the “windshield greenhouse”. There’s also a junk store that was apparently a car dealership back in 30’s according to the store owner who sells artifacts found around the mine. Needless to say Hedley and it’s inhabitants make for an interesting stop. The Hitching Post resturant is a good lunch stop, the building was one of the first permanent structures in Hedley an can be found on the main street. The Gold Dust Pub is also a popular stop as you head out of Hedley east towards Osyoos.

The next part of this ride is where the adventure begins. Heading east on Hwy 3 just outside Hedley watch for Nickle Plate Road on your left (it not well marked, and it’s not an major road) I caution you, if you are not comfortable on single lane, dirt roads with hairpin switch backs or you have a fear of heights, this is not the route for you. Nickle Plate road heads up the side of the mountain and you have to use extreme caution to avoid on coming vehicles, even the tour bus for the Mascot Mine uses this road. Keep your momentum up, and watch as far up the mountain as possible and you’ll be rewarded at the top with an incredible view of the the valley below. Nickle Plate Road levels out after the climb and makes it’s way over to Apex Ski area above Penticton and ends right in the village where the pavement begins again. Another great part of this ride is the ride down from Apex that ultimately ends at Green Mountain Road. One of the areas favorite sport bike roads. To head back to Kelowna take a left on Green Mountain Road and head north when you hit Highway 97 in Penticton.

Jeff Kumagai
Freelance Motorcycle Rider



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