Rider's Corner

COALMONT TOUR

Here's an interesting ride to a small semi-ghost town on the KVR (Kettle Valley Railway) about 16 kms from Princeton. Coalmont was established in 1912 and as the name suggests it was a coal mining community. There are still a handful of residents and a few buildings remain, the most prominent is the Coalmont Hotel.

It's an easy ride south on Hwy. 97 when you reach Penticton stay on 97 and follow the channel between Lake Okanagan and Skaha Lake. When you reach Skaha Lake you will have to turn right at the lights. You'll follow Hwy. 97 as it rises above Skaha Lake take the the Hwy. 3A cutoff to Keremeos and Princeton. This is a great section of winding two lane highway as the road climbs and eventually drops you back down into Keremeos, a small fruit growing community. There are a number of good fruit stands and a historic Grist Mill in Keremeos (In case you were wondering Grist is grain that has been separated from its chaff?).

To reach Coalmont you take Hwy. 3 west towards Princeton, don't be surprised if you are pushing a heavy headwind, the wind really howls through this valley. The road is great with smooth sweeping curves and excellent scenery. The next town on the route is Hedley, as you aproach town you will see the Gold Dust Pub on your left, this is a good lunch stop and it's a popular stop for motorcycle riders. The Mascot Mine looms overhead in Hedley, you can take a tour but you need an entire day. If your on a dual sport there is an incredible climb up Hedley-Nickleplate Road, it's all gravel, narrow and steep but the view from the top is impressive. This road will take you back to Penticton via Apex Ski Resort.

To reach Coalmont you have to continue on Hwy. 3 until you reach Princeton. There are signs indicating the way to Coalmont, it's not a long ride in but if you're low on fuel fill up in Princeton. The road into Coalmont is narrow and only one lane wide in some places, watch for rocks. It's paved all the way to town but turns to gravel shortly after that. The only business that's open (on occasion) is the old hotel. If you're on a street bike you will probably prefer to return to Princeton and take 5A north and then 97C back to Kelowna. If you're on a dual sport you can continue past Coalmont through Tulameen eventually you will intersect with Hwy. 5A just south of Hwy. 97C near Aspen Grove (No Services). This highway is commonly referred to as the “connector” and will take you back to Kelowna. This trip will take you the better part of a day to complete.

Jeff Kumagai
Freelance Motorcycle Rider