Bike Touring: Myra Canyon on the KVR

bike touring okanagan

We just had an awesome trip to the Okanagan to do some day touring. On Day 1, we rode a section of the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail in Naramata. On Day 2, we thought we’d give the kids a bit of a rest with a longer drive and headed to the classic Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park ride full of trestles and tunnels!


This is a flat ride. Technically it is “downhill” from Myra Station to Ruth Station, but it’s hard to believe that other than a small section where I felt like we were actually riding downhill a teensy bit on the way out. It was hardly even a false flat sensation riding back “up” to Myra Station, where we parked. All this to say: SUPER KID FRIENDLY without crowds. Totally doable on a single speed children’s bike or run bike. Yes, it’s a long way down if a kid falls off a trestle (watch out for the little view points; the lower rung is far too big a gap, IMHO) or veers off trail, but it’s 100% car free!


Go ride this exhilarating feat of engineering. Not to mention an awe-inspiring banding together of community as the government was going to close the trail down due to too many accidents, so people banded together, improved it, and then disaster struck shortly thereafter with many of the trestles burning up in a “trestle inferno”, as depicted by the information kiosk en route. And, then the community banded together again and rebuilt. A-mazing.

It wasn’t my favourite ride for scenery, but it was just great for the above reasons, and what kid is not enticed by trestles and TUNNELS (plural, there are TWO!)? Tunnels are more enticing than lollipops for my 2.5 yo. The ride was just plain fun.

When to go

I think that the best time to do this trail is in spring or fall, after spring melt or before snow falls, but away from the crowds of summer as much is possible. If you must go in summertime, aim to be there early in the day to beat the heat and the crowds. Personally, I wouldn’t want to ride this section of the trail with all of the trestles, etc. with young children and crowds — it seems like it would be just a bit much. That said, apparently the crowds thin out a lot after the first few trestles, so I would still go for it if a summer visit was my only option!

Because this section of the trail is located at a higher elevation, it is more susceptible to snow. So, the shoulder season can be a bit more unpredictable. The Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society website was the best source that I found for reliable, up-to-date information on this section of the trail. This year (2017), the snow was gone by May 19th, but the trails were wet with run-off; the volunteers did trail maintenance at this time, too, like removing downed timber from winter storms, of which there is a high probability of in the area due to the nature of the forest fire burned landscape. So far as I understand, it was a high snow pack year for this region, so you could expect snow to be gone earlier in the year, normally.

We were there early June, 2017 and the trails were almost entirely dry. Wildflowers were blooming, with purple clumps of penstemon everywhere and the spring green of the undergrowth was a beautiful contrast with much of the burned out standing dead timber that graces the landscape.


The weather was cooler up at this elevation in the spring. I wore a thin wool cardigan the whole day and the kids were in their fleeces off and on. Definitely bring an extra layer and a shell in case the mountain weather changes suddenly. There are a couple of 4-walled shelters where you could hunker down for a bit if it got really nasty, I suppose. The cooler weather was welcome as Day 1 had been a bit on the hotter side for us and our youngest had burned her nose.

Where to start

You have two options: Myra Station or Ruth Station. Both have similar drive times from Kelowna and both are accessed via Forest Service Roads (FSRs). We parked at Myra Station and the road in was in decent shape. Pot holes in flatter areas, of course, and a bit of washboard when first entering the FSR. And, it is steep in sections. And, twisty. But, totally doable with 2wd and not much clearance; we drive a Honda Odyssey and we saw cars with even less clearance in the parking lot. Google Map’s directions work great to get to the trailhead.

Another beauty about starting at Myra is that, while the trestles are numbered in descending order from this section of the trail, most of them are located at this end. From Trestle 3 to Ruth Station, the trestles are relatively spaced out. We rode from Myra Station to Trestle 3 and turned around there, this worked out to just under 14 km round trip. I think it took us a very leisurely/kid-paced 2.5 hrs, including lunch.

My 5.5 yo rode all the way back to Myra on her single speed, which is mostly “uphill” but she had no problem, whatsoever.

Tips

The most complicated thing about this ride is probably the drive in, which really isn’t that bad, just longer:

  • There are outhouses at the Myra Station Parking Lot.
  • There is no water, so fill up before you drive up.
  • There is a seasonal bike rental service at the Myra Station Parking Lot, Myra Canyon Bike Rentals.
  • There are “storm shelters” and they do have some bike tools inside.
  • There are two outhouses along the trail.

Bikes

We each rode a longtail. My husband was on our new 8-speed Bike Friday Haul-a-Day and I rode our Xtracycle Edgerunner. Our 5.5 yo is still on a single speed Spawn Banshee and the 2.5 yo rode her Strider run bike (which we’ve now got pneumatic tires on) for quite a few km’s. You do not need suspension; balloon tires are nice (I have Big Bens on the Edgerunner). You do not need super knobby tires. This section is in excellent shape. The substrate is hard-packed, small crushed gravel or compact dirt. We saw people riding everything from Canadian Tire specials to beach cruisers to mountain bikes or various caliber. Not sure I’d do the ride on slick, thin roadie tires, but cross tires would be great.

What have you gleaned from this? Questions? Comments? Please reply here: