After all our rail trail cycling this year, it was appropriate that we should (probably) finish our 2020 camping season with one last exploration of the KVR Rail Trail in the Similkameen Valley.
As the Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen like to do, we combined old, familiar trails with new sections of The Great Trail (formerly called the Trans Canada Trail).
So we headed west and then
east from Princeton, and then west and east from Osprey Lake, halfway between Princeton and Summerland.
We cycled both sides of Princeton several times this year, each with its own attractions.
Heading west, there is a 300-metre-long tunnel (built in 1910) under the Highway 3-Crowsnest Highway ridge into the precipitous valley of the Tulameen River which includes red ochre cliffs, hoodoos and stone pillars. Heading east are extensive golden grasslands for kilometre after kilometre.
However, this is “ATV Country,” so the trail is rougher than what we are used to in the Okanagan Valley. It was even more true on the forested KVR trail on both sides of Osprey Lake.
Every driveway (and many pickups on Princeton-Summerland Road) had one or two ATVs parked in the driveway (or in the truck box).
Recreation Sites and Trails BC allows motorized use, but as our group of nine cyclists bounced over regular stretches of washboard, we wondered — if it also bothered ATVers — why they wouldn’t use a grader-like blade or drag some other piece of equipment behind them to smooth it out so everyone can enjoy it.
The Sheriff concluded the KVR is their highway — until he saw unlicenced ATVs using the highway too.
It was a relief on Sunday to join Chris B’s Meetup group and cycle the ultra-smooth-gravel KVR Rail Trail from Penticton to Naramata’s Little Tunnel, the South Okanagan’s equivalent to the excellent Okanagan Rail Trail between Kelowna and Coldstream.
When we came across a lost/abandoned dog, fortunately Critteraid volunteer Wendy M. knew who to call and a Naramata foster caregiver picked it up in less than 10 minutes.
Of note on the trip, we stayed at Princeton Castle (castleresort.com) conceived in 1910 as a “Great Cement City.” Four years, a million dollars, hundreds of thousands of hours of work by engineers, carpenters and masons (several of whom died in accidents) went into building a cement plant and powerhouse which closed nine months after opening.
Also known as the Rainbow Lake Castle Resort, it has a lodge, chalets and cabins, serviced RV campground, children’s playground and active games area in addition to the cement plant ruins and is next to the rail trail.
Of note two: from Osprey Lake’s forest recreation site, we cycled up a steep hill to Jellico Station Inn B&B (jellicostationinn.ca) where Les and Darleen Sirokai have created the most unusual accommodation that is a must-see.
We also checked out Bettina and Mark Wong’s metal art gallery located at the humorous corner of Wong Way and Right Way. Also a must-see.
We agreed we wouldn’t come back for the rough cycling, but Osprey Lake is stocked and its rainbow trout were constantly bobbing to the surface.
The Regional District of North Okanagan planned to reopen the northern section of the Okanagan Rail Trail before this Thanksgiving long weekend.
An erosion mitigation project, which began on Sept. 21, involved excavating and rebuilding sections so a full closure from kilometre four to 12.5 was necessary.
Since the ORT runs alongside Kalamalka Lake, it is expected that erosion maintenance work will occur throughout the life of the trail, especially after high water periods.
Construction of public washrooms will continue to the end of the year so parking will remain limited at the Kickwillie Loop/Westkal Road trail entrance. Trail users are encouraged to use the parking lot at Coldstream Station, 16506 Kalamalka Rd., until then.
Kelowna athlete Nathalie Long is planning to hike the equivalent of Mount Everest this weekend to raise money for the Youth Outdoor Recreation Society. She was to start at the bottom of Blue Grouse Mountain off Westside Road at 3 p.m. on Friday.
“I will be doing laps of a trail until I reach an 8,848-metre elevation gain, going until I’m done which I think should be Saturday afternoon/evening. The money will be used to take some kids who wouldn’t usually be able to afford to go on a canoe expedition in the spring.
“My fundraiser — Everesting for the Kids — will still be open for another week after my challenge.”
The fundraiser page, Everesting for the Kids, can be found at: charity.gofundme.com.
A large waterfront property for sale at 625 Highway 97 next to the Okanagan Lake North Campground of Okanagan Lake Provincial Park in Summerland “would be an amazing spot for an additional, much-needed campground,” say local proponents of a provincial purchase.
Its “28-plus acres with 1,400 feet of low-bank lakeshore” will be auctioned on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, we are committed to other projects at the moment, and the financial scale of this one makes it a particular challenge. If we think of anyone for whom this might be a good fit, we will let you know,” Colleen Maslen, administrative coordinator for the BC Parks Foundation, told the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club.
J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: email@example.com