Today we road the bike on another section of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail. This is considered the prettiest part of the entire rail trail as it works its way around a deep canyon using 18 trestles and two tunnels in a bit over 8 km on an almost flat trail.
The canyon is just a short way southeast of Kelowna but you have to do a pretty good climb to get there. Kelowna is at around 400 m elevation with the trail is at around 1250 m most of which you climb on a wide but a little rough dirt road. On summer weekends it gets to be a bit of a mad house here. The parking lot can hold 75 cars.
In 2003 there was a huge forest fire and a lot of the trestles burned down.
Since it is such a popular tourist destination and is one of the reasons people come to Kelowna, the government decide to rebuild them all.
When I checked the website yesterday there was a report from late April saying that the trail was open but snow covered. Since we didn’t know what to expect we took our hiking gear as well as the biking gear just in case.
It turned out that the first 4 km of the trail were fine. The problems started when we turned the corner, at the bottom of the map, to be on a north facing slope that is in the shade most of the time. There started to be big pools of water and a lot of mud so that is where we had lunch and turned around.
We saw that people with mountain bikes went further but there was no way our road bike tandem could get through. In actuality I don’t think they could go much farther because there was a sign at the beginning saying that they were doing maintenance on the cliffs above the trail and it was closed from trestle 6 to trestle 1.
I had guessed that this was going to be a bad day for Jennie due to the heights. She probably should have stayed home. When the trail was not on a trestle you were perched on the edge of the canyon edge.
I thought about just walking it but biking actually turned out to be better. Whenever the heights got too much Jennie could just close her eyes and we would keep going. This happened on all the trestles except the first one.
I guess the bypass road was for construction but we saw vehicles for the maintenance people that were past the other trestles so they must be able to drive across them. It had to be really bumpy as the outside edges have large gaps between the ties, through which you can see all the way down.
Biking across the middle section was not that great either. The bike tires would sometimes get caught in the line between the boards and could jerk the bike around. I imagine it was even less fun for Jennie with her eyes closed.
The next 4 trestles are quite close together. Looking back.
We could see some of the trestles and the line of the trail on the opposite wall of the canyon.
Far off in the corner, I think trestle 6 is the highest and longest.
The first tunnel.
There was a lot of cribbing at the exit because the rock on the cliff above was very fractured.
Trestle 11 seemed very long.
We went through a few deep rock cuts. This one had been planned to be a tunnel but the rock was not stable enough. Since we were in the shade they were also muddy.
It turned out that they were doing maintenance on the cliff just before trestle 9. They would call up to the guys, who would stop when they could and then we would be allowed to pass underneath.
These pictures were taken on the way back looking over trestle 9.
During our lunch I saw a huge boulder come crashing down. From the yells I don’t think it went where it was supposed to.
I took Jennie over 9 and 8 and then walked back to take pictures. Even I got a bit nervous walking over the open ties.
Looking over 8 towards the red speck that is Jennie.
The roaring creek that flows under 9. Still lots of dead trees from the fire.
Looking down the canyon from 8.
This is where the trail started to get ugly.
We walked through the cut but got very muddy so we decided that it was time for lunch.
Looking across we could see 5 trestles and the 2 tunnels.
We tried to go a bit farther but could see that the trail was just getting worse so we turned around after only 4 km from the trailhead.
Back we go.
Looking down towards Kelowna.
In the zoom you can see downtown and off to the right, Knox Mountain that we climbed yesterday.
And then home.