Myra-Bellevue

Some of the lower hiking/mountain biking trails in Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, especially those furthest from the Stewart Road East trailhead, are so steep that cautious cyclists walk/skid them downhill, above. The panoramic views of the park and Okanagan Lake in the distance are spectacular.

The series on the best Okanagan trails continues with Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park on the South Slopes of Kelowna.

This 7,677-hectare park was established in 2001 “to provide increased representation of the North Okanagan Basin and North Okanagan Highlands ecosections by capturing the full elevational range from the outskirts of Kelowna eastward to the crest of the mountains.”

It is unique in its combination of features, such as the scenic Myra Canyon, the dramatic escarpment of Little White Mountain, Bellevue (Creek) Canyon, Angel Springs and a myriad of hiking/mountain trails on the lower slopes accessed from the Stewart Road East trailhead.

Last Saturday, Constant Companion Carmen led a leisurely Central Okanagan Outdoors Club bike ride along the KVR trestles and tunnels in the 12-kilometre-long Myra Canyon, extending it seven kilometres further south to Bellevue Trestle. BC Parks warns a section south of Ruth Station parking lot is unstable due to slope failure (use at your own risk) but we found only numerous puddles, some of them very large puddles. Maintenance is sadly lacking.

On Wednesday afternoon, we joined cycling buddies Lawrence and Maggie on a sweaty exploratory cycle through some of the most challenging mountain biking to date this year up to Kelowna Lookout.

From the lookout, we headed down numerous steep pitches (often walking/skidding our e-bikes) on Crawford Trail and Surf ‘n’ Turf. Recommended only for advanced explorers. Early start in hot July recommended.

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After last weekend’s column, numerous readers spent frustrating hours checking out the City of Kelowna’s Active by Nature web pages at: kelowna.ca/parks-recreation/recreation-sport/active-nature and trying to download some of its 21 cycling maps to their phones.

Then, they called the Sheriff for help. Like many websites and apps, you are left to figure it out on your own. That prompted the Sheriff to suggest to city officials that a city computer tech record a YouTube instructional video and post the YouTube link beside the Interpretive Map link.

It is more complicated because the route maps use two different apps: mostly Google Maps but also MapMyRide. The latter allows you to Download GPX or Download KML but you need a special app to view those. Among its shortcomings, MapMyTrail’s route line covers street names. We’re still trying to figure out how to get voice directions from our phones while riding.

The Okanagan Rail Trail map, for example, refers to the Central Okanagan Multi-modal Corridor (?) or “Rails with Trails,” which the Sheriff has encouraged the city to rename to Okanagan Rail Trail for consistency. The route map still sends users down Cawston Avenue downtown and not the new ORL section between Gordon Drive and Manhattan Drive completed last year.

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Lower Mainland cyclist and author Colleen MacDonald will sign copies of her new guidebook, Let’s Go Biking Okanagan & Beyond, at Cyclepath, 2169 Springfield Rd. in Kelowna,

1-2 p.m. today.

This self-published book has more than 140 rides for all ages and experience levels. It retails for $19.95, and will be available at Mosaic Books in Kelowna, Books ‘n’ Things in Penticton, Indigo and Coles stores in Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon, Otter Books in Nelson, and at local wineries, farms, bike shops and gift shops. More than 5,000 copies of her Let’s Go Biking Around Vancouver were sold in two years.

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There was reader feedback on the recent “baffling” discovery that someone had ripped up the summer salsify above the Flume Trail on the Carrot Mountain Bluffs above West Kelowna.

Penticton horticulturalist Anne B. Ginns responded: Yellow Salsify or Western Goat’s Beard (Tragopogon dubius) is considered a weed in B.C. “It is related to dandelions, so that is probably why someone pulled them up.

“This biennial or short-lived perennial was introduced from Europe in the 1700s probably for its medicinal properties. A close relative, Oysterplant, T. porrifolius, has purple flowers and an edible root. “Yellow salsify does have an attractive flower which is attractive to bees and a magnificent seed head which is often photographed. Birds, like goldfinch, eat the seeds, sometimes pecking into an unripe ovary to get at them.

“The deep tap roots bring up beneficial minerals which return to the soil when the plant dies. I remove some salsify when it becomes too numerous on our property, otherwise I leave it be for its benefits. Some people, as (the reader) has discovered, really hate it though. I smile when I remember an old lady who used to wave her cane at it and cry ‘pull that out!’ (Your reader) can relax as these plants are in no danger of disappearing; they are here to stay.”

To which the original reader responded: “That’s funny. I was just looking it up and there are numerous sites with advice for growing, harvesting and cooking the roots which are a good vegetable (much more nutritious than potatoes and carrots apparently) … But there was very little info about their negative side.

“Anyway, I shall worry no more. And maybe if I see the person pulling them up, I will pick up all the roots and bring them home for soup.”

J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: jp.squire@telus.net.