In early July 2003, my father packed up my brother and I, our bicycles, tent, sleeping bags, and canned food and we set off on a four day ride along the Kettle Valley Railway bed. Opened in 1915, the Kettle Valley Railway ran as a subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway through the Thompson-Okanagan region of BC. However by 1961portions were already abandoned, with the final segments falling into disuse in 1989.
Beginning in Beaverdell, a small community southeast of Kelowna, we peddled through flat grassy farmland, alongside gurgling creeks with fast moving water, and onto the silent beauty of McCulloch Lake. At night we ate canned tuna fish with crackers and passed out from exhaustion before the sky turned dark. Of these four days the most spectacular was day three, when we road through Myra Canyon, a path that takes visitors across 18 wooden trestles and through two tunnels. Two months later, lightening sparked the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Fire which burned large portions of the Kettle Valley Railway including 12 of Myra Canyon’s 18 trestles.
Today the trestles have been rebuilt and fully open to the public. Visitors to Kelowna and the BC Okanagan Valley can easily reach the Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park by car and walk along the Kettle Valley Railway, reconstructed trestles, and tunnels. As well, the Kettle Valley offers great single and multiple day bicycling opportunities. Because the trail was built to accommodate steam trains the grade of the trails in gentle, meaning there are very few steep hills.
The Kettle Valley Railway has a wonderful history, one I hope to write about more in the future, and is quite an engineering feat. For more information about visiting the Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park visit their website here. As well, information about cycling the Kettle Valley Railway and other sections of track outside the Okanagan can be found here.