Shuswap Lake

Sunnybrae-Canoe Point Road east of Herald Provincial Park has a series of panoramic views of Shuswap Lake, above. The narrow roadway doesn’t have bike paths but there are only a few vehicles on weekdays.

It’s been said by the Sheriff before but he’ll say it again. You appreciate the Okanagan Valley so much more when you leave for an e-biking vacation and then come back to hundreds of kilometres of bike lanes, many of them off-road.

The Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen just spent six days camping in the Shuswap while checking out several of its local trails (not our first time in the Shuswap).

While camping at Shuswap Lake Provincial Park, we explored the scenic Wade Road/River Trail which follows the Adams River north of the Squilax-Angelmont Road bridge in the northern portion of Tsutswecw Provincial Park.

A few years ago, we shot the same Adams River rapids in rafts.

Then our group did the salmon spawning trails south of the bridge through the park formerly known as Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park.

Moving over to Herald Provincial Park, we again hiked in to nearby thundering Margaret Falls. And then we e-biked from Herald east to the end of rolling Sunnybrae-Canoe Point Road, which has huge, long downhills but gentle climbs. All narrow pavement, no bike lanes, but few vehicles.

From Shuswap Lake PP, we also kayaked across to Copper Island and hiked its three-kilometre loop trail to the summit of the sole island in Shuswap Lake. Panoramic views of the lake and Blind Bay.

From tourist info centres, get a copy of Shuswap-North Okanagan Cycle Guide. More than 1,500 kilometres of backcountry roads, few bike paths. And ask for the Shuswap Paddle Guide.

By comparison, Kelowna has more than 300 kilometres of bike lanes and more than 60 kilometres of separated pathways, the most extensive bicycle network in Canada for a city its size.

Figures for Penticton and Vernon were unavailable at press deadline, but bikemap.net says Penticton has 183 cycle routes and Vernon has 115 compared to 478 in Kelowna.

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On Wednesday, Sheila Fraser, co-owner of Pedego Oyama, made an impassioned plea about e-bikes to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee of the Regional District of North Okanagan. The committee supported in principle changing the Parks Bylaw to allow class 2 e-bikes on the Okanagan Rail Trail.

“We won! At least the first round. Final vote (by RDNO directors) on June 15,” she said afterward.

Last summer, RDNO banned class 2-3 as motor vehicles since both have throttles. Class 1-2 have a 32 km/h speed limit while class 3 is 45 km/h.

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A May 27 ceremony officially opened a new 2.3-kilometre addition to the Mission Creek Greenway that runs from the KLO Creek Bridge to Scenic Canyon Regional Park, and offers outstanding views of Pinnacle Rock and Layercake Mountain.

“Our grand opening was a bit of a washout,” said Rhea Wiseman, secretary for Friends of Mission Creek Society.

“During the speeches, it just poured so we all tried to huddle under a couple of RDCO tents. It cleared a bit later so about a dozen people took in the morning hike. In the afternoon, 15 people carpooled over from UBCO where the provincial naturalist clubs were holding their AGM. Due to time constraints … they were only able to do a short hike and weren’t able to see the whole trail. Maybe with the teaser they got, they’ll want to come back and see more. The new trail is great. The wild flowers are pretty awesome right now.”

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There was an interesting reader response to last weekend’s opinion that fast road cyclists coming up behind you without warning - and not maligned e-bikers — are a problem everywhere.

From an 84-year-old Vernon hiker: E-bikes “travelling speeds that make an accident inevitable” should be banned from all trails on which people are walking “for obvious safety reasons.”

Around Vernon, “for every cycle I see of any description, I see 100 people on foot. Personally, I would make all people riding class 2 and 3 e-bikes take a course, and have insurance as they are, after all, riding a power-driven vehicle.”

From Pim: “During my 1 1/2-hour walk today on the Okanagan Rail Trail, there was only one person that spoke out ‘On your left.’ Most of the more-than-one-person group of bikers seem to try to get close to the walker as they want to continue riding side-by-side and keep up a conversation even though there might be oncoming traffic.”

From Vicki: “I used to live in the Mission about 1985-2004. When I drove up Gordon Drive past Dorothea Walker Elementary School, I was doing the required 30 km/h while school was in session. I was always amazed when bikes were passing me! They had to be going more than 32 km/h. And even when the children were crossing in the crosswalk, they just weaved through them … Also, when there were police in the area looking for speeders, they never ticketed a bike that I am aware of. I hope the powers that be wake up and realize that a regular bike rider can go much faster than any class e-bike if he/she wishes.”

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Friends of the South Slopes completed a 16-kilometre upgrade to Wild Horse Canyon Trail in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park as a result of a whopping 960 hours by 36 volunteers over 10 days. Five kilometres of the Golden Mile Trail access were completed last fall.

One of the main supporters was PACE (Positive Attitude Changes Everything) in Kelowna, which made a substantial donation.

“We just wrapped up another charity run and event that raised over $18,000, which will be split between FOSS (earmarked for Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park) and CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) Kelowna,” said PACE founder and endurance coach Rene Unser.

“Not only does it enhance trail access and enjoyment for locals and visitors, it supports groups like COSAR (search and rescue) and makes the park a safer place to recreate for all user groups. Not to mention, PACE Trail Runs is proud to host an annual 52K trail running race that traverses through the park every June (today).

Spending time in the park is “extremely special,” she said.

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