Folks can ride the rails of the Okanagan Valley
Like Our Facebook Page
By Aaron Theisen
Vernon, B.C. – The story of the Okanagan Valley can be told through a natural corridor that runs along the valley; moving from the Syilx (Okanagan) band to gold-rush-era miners and turn-of-the-century rail lines. Today, the former Canadian Northern rail corridor once again connects communities from Coldstream to Kelowna, this time as the Okanagan Rail Trail. It’s a unique addition to the ever-expanding bike trail system of the Okanagan.
The 50km rail trail runs from the north end of Kalamalka Lake south to the centre of Okanagan Lake, half of it along lakefront, creek and natural habitats, connecting visitors to the natural history along this corridor. The nearly level rail-grade allows users to hike or bike as little or as long as they like, from lunch-break strolls to high-mileage bike rides.
Cyclists pedal through Polson Park, one of 22 parks within 500 metres of the rail trail
From the north end of Kalamalka Lake, just south of Vernon, the rail trail traces the lake’s shore south past lakefront neighbourhoods, yellow rabbitbrush and bedrock outcroppings.
Cyclists can grab a pre-ride cup of locally roasted coffee – or reward themselves with a post-ride cinnamon roll – at the Rail Trail Café, in the historic Kal General Store. A large mural on the building’s exterior depicts the Rotary Pier at Kal Beach on Kalamalka Lake across the street.
Enjoying a glass of mead at Planet Bee’s outdoor gazebo
One popular side-trip for cyclists is to head west of downtown on Bella Vista Road to Planet Bee Honey Farm and Honeymoon Meadery. First-time imbibers of mead, fear not; Honeymoon’s mead has a balanced palette rather than the cloyingly sweet flavour of some meads. Enjoy a glass of the Blushing Cherry melomel (a mead produced with fruit and honey) on the gazebo, surrounded by the hives and wildflowers that produce this nectar of the gods.
Adjacent to Planet Bee, Davison Orchards Country Village boasts abundant U-pick apples and pumpkins, which guests can access on a Johny Popper Farm Tour train. And sometimes the best kind of apple to pick comes on a stick: Davison Orchards’ caramel apples are always in season.
Davison Orchards Country Village boasts abundant U-pick apples, which guests can access on a Johny Popper Farm Tour
Cap the day with a cocktail at Okanagan Spirits. The oldest craft distillery in western Canada, Okanagan Spirits pioneered the province’s “farm to flask” distillery movement. The distillery uses only locally grown grains and fruits to produce more than 25 spirits, from B.C.’s first single-malt whisky to the anise snap of absinthe. Traditional turn-of-the-century style drinks provide the restorative powers for another day of riding.