We are in the middle of a repeat house sit in Oliver, British Columbia. Vineyards and orchards cover the hills and valleys here, and accompanying wineries (and now cideries and distilleries) are abundant. The Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) trail offers easy cycling along the Okanagan River, but there is one section of this trail that we have been wanting to cycle since we learned about it many years ago. Finally, we have ridden the Myra Trestles (and tunnels) section of the KVR.
We drove our bikes about 2 hours north of Oliver to the Myra Canyon forestry road parking lot, about 30 minutes east of Kelowna. You can rent bikes here in the parking lot, if you don’t have your own.
On this sunny autumn day, we arrived at about 9:45 in the morning. There was only one other car in the parking lot with a few more people arriving as we got our bikes ready.
The KVR trail runs along historic rail lines. The rails were taken up in the 1970s and, thanks to many volunteer hours, the route was eventually repurposed as a safe walking and cycling trail. In 2003, a lightning strike started a forest fire that destroyed 12 of the 18 trestles. Over the next 5 years, the trestles were rebuilt and restored.
The section between the Myra Canyon parking lot and Ruth Station is a twisty 11km trail (for a 22km as this is an out-and-back route unless you arrange pickup at the other end) that partially circumnavigates Myra Canyon.
This section of the trail includes 18 trestles and 2 tunnels. The trestles and tunnels are all within about 8.5km so you can shorten the trip, if you like, by turning around at the last trestle rather than continuing onto the Ruth Station parking lot. As you ride this wiggly loop your views include the trestles you have already ridden over or the ones yet to come.
The ride is easy and flat on quite well-maintained trails. We visited a few days after a good rain and, though we came across puddly sections, there was always a dry path on which to ride around the water. A couple of places looked like they would have been slippery and muddy right after the rain, but were completely dry for us.
There are pit toilets at each end of the trail and even a couple along it, with signage here and there indicating how far to the next one. There are also a couple of storm shelters, presumably to provide a respite from the rain or cold, something we didn’t have to worry about, but we did see a group of riders hanging about one drying a sleeping bag in the sun. Though this section is a popular day ride, it is part of the much longer KVR trail system. Perhaps these shelters are very welcome for longer-distance riders.
All along the trail, between trestles 1 and 18, there are benches providing a place to rest, have a picnic, or just enjoy the views of the canyon and the Okanagan Valley below.
By the end of our ride a few hours later (we took our time and enjoyed the sites and a packed lunch), there were several more people on the trail, including many walkers, especially on the section closest to the Myra parking lot. It can be a bit nervewracking passing other bikes on the trestles (walkers can easily move to the sides to allow room for bikes, and they do even though bikes are supposed to yield to them), so we were very happy to be riding this route mid-week in late September instead of on a weekend or in the summer when it is sure to be much busier.
- Learn more about the history and restoration of the Myra trestles at myratrestles.com.
- Learn about the entire Kettle Valley Rail trail system at bcrailtrails.com.
- There are many options for adding this ride to your Okanagan vacation. With your own bicycles (or feet) you can use the trail for free and on your own schedule. You can rent bicycles on site from Myra Canyon Bike Rentals. And there are many operators in the area who will provide transportation from nearby cities like Penticton and Kelowna, or offer combined wine tasting (this is the Okanagan wine region after all) and bicycle tours.
- To get to the Myra parking lot, direct your GPS to Myra Canyon Bike Rental, or use this link.