Hit Vernon for fall biking, trail running stoke
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Fall is the time to visit Vernon, for the ideal combo of trail access and fall beauty on bikes and runs.
Vibrant reds, vivid yellows and deep greens paint the landscape of the Syilx Okanagan Nation’s traditional territory where the community of Vernon now sits. As the cooler weather brings beautiful bold colors to the North Okanagan region, fall is the perfect time to visit. Embrace the changing season with time well spent outdoors finding your fall zen on the local trails.
As a passionate outdoor enthusiast my trip to explore Vernon was set to be right up my alley. While reading over the Tourism Vernon website I looked up all the great info on the trail running and mountain biking opportunities waiting to be enjoyed. My visit would be spent in a spot loved by locals and visitors alike, Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park.
Starting off my first day of outdoor fun would be trail running led by locals Megan Delisimunovic and Diana Leman. These lovely ladies are part of local Vernon club Bush Babes and Bros Trail Running, created by Dawna Jodoin in her effort to connect fitness with the beauty that nature provides us.
I met Megan and Diana at the Red Gate trailhead for Kalamalka Park and its informative trail kiosk where you can plan your hike or trail run. As we start out, Diana beamed, saying, “fall is my favorite time of year to run through the park." I agreed as the bright colors, tacky trail and cool weather made our effort up the hillside to the top of the Lookout Trail very enjoyable.
At the top of the Lookout Trail and along its summit ridge traverse we had stunning views in almost every direction. The highlight for me was the stunning views down below to Cosens Bay and the vivid colors of Kalamalka Lake.
After taking in the views we carried on along the trail and to our unexpected pleasure a small group of deer crossed our path. We took a moment to pause and enjoy the connection to the land and animals that we share the space with.
Onwards and downwards winding through yellow, orange and red changing vegetation lining the trail we slowly worked back to the trailhead. Of course with any fun run with friends great conversations occur.
“The trails and the state of peace that comes from running them has been my mental health sanctuary,” Megan reflected as we chatted along the trail. I one hundred percent agree; I myself ride and run the trails for the clarity and zen we all seek.
After a good sleep and a good cup of coffee I met Brett Woods of Dialed Rides at the Cosens Gate trailhead parking lot. Brett is a local mountain bike guide and instructor as well as past president of the North Okanagan Cycling Society (NOCS). From the quote off Brett’s website, I knew we were set to have a great day riding the trails: “Dialed Rides - When your body, your ride and the trail flow in perfect harmony.”
From the Cosens Bay trailhead you can explore the lower trails around the bay, pedal up to the lookout trail which I ran the day prior or you can work your way up and ride the lower portions of the forested hillside to the south. Our plan though was to do a vehicle shuttle to the very top of the King Eddy Plateau and the southern park boundary starting out on Tombstone Trail.
We took in the summit viewpoint off the trail and then cranked the stoke dial to the max as we navigated our way down the thick forests and loamy trails. A highlight of the riding during the day was hitting Flovid, one of the newer trails built by NOCS - a fast, flowy blue trail with fun berms and lots of smiles.
Twista and No Boats trails eventually led us to the valley bottom above the bay where we enjoyed the switchback climb up Gingerly back to the parking lot where we started.
I had such a great time with Woods and he was a wonderful guide sharing the history of the area, the work NOCS is doing as well as just an all-around great guy. It's amazing to realize that the excellent, purpose-built network of bike trails in the area is the result of many days of hard work by volunteer trail crews, supported by revenues generated from NOCS' voluntary memberships.
For Woods, it's been years in the making but the reward is there every time he rides. We laughed together after he said to me; “I’m getting a bit older now but when it comes to mountain biking I love it that we are all the same on two wheels, age doesn’t matter.”
Whatever your age, I hope you can find the time to enjoy and explore Vernon this fall.
WHEN YOU GO
- Get the insider’s guide to the trails by booking a ride with Dialed Rides.
- Buy a membership to the North Okanagan Cycling Society and support local trails, or leave them some trail karma on Trailforks. Your NOCS membership grows the voice of trail users in the region and supports trail development. You also gain access to community events - social rides, youth programs - and discounts at local bike shops.
- A big shout-out to Bush Babes & Bros Trail Running for supporting NOCS through memberships, bringing the cycling and running community together. It is groups like NOCS and all their hard work maintaining, developing and building trail networks that allow us to find our zen and flow on the trails.
- Once you're all set up, start exploring the Vernon Trails, with this interactive map.