#Route97 is a collection of experiences and destinations you will find within the Okanagan Valley and into Washington state.
ZenSeekers challenges you to explore the region this fall and have a series of stories to help make that happen.
Exploring The Kettle Valley Rail Trail with Dax Justin
Peaceful ride in the sky: Cycling the historic trestles and tunnels of Myra Canyon
I’d never heard of a ‘ghost train’ until Ed Kruger said he’d summon one for us at the first tunnel we were about to ride through on our bikes on a guided tour in the Okanagan’s spectacular Myra Canyon, part of the Okanagan’s Kettle Valley Rail Trail.
On this beautiful late September day, I could see why people from Vancouver and all over western Canada would want to make this a weekend getaway to get in some spectacular cycling in the weeks before the snow flies.
Ed grew up cycling, skiing and snowshoeing in the Okanagan, surrounded by the Monashee Mountains, which fittingly translates to “peaceful mountain.”
He knows and loves this place intimately, making him the perfect guide for our cycling excursion on the historic Kettle Valley Railway with his company Monashee Adventure Tours.
The 40-minute ride up to the Myra Canyon junction where we would set off on our 20-km Trestles and Tunnels ride was a bit jarring. I assumed then that the bike ride would be just as bumpy, and prepared myself.
But I was wrong. Having not been on a mountain bike in a few years, I was relieved for the leisurely pace and smooth, flat ride. Though the views had me madly snapping photos and made it hard for me to keep my eyes on the trail.
A rider of just about any ability can easily master this stretch. The railings are secure and thanks to dozens of volunteers in the region, there’s interpretive signage and everything is maintained to perfection.
Perfection seemed to be the motto of the day. The clear blue sky made the dazzling fall colours pop in the sunshine, and we could see for miles beyond the canyon down to the Okanagan valley, the vineyards and pretty Lake Okanagan in the distance.
As we pedalled along, Ed told us a bit about the history of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail and how it came to be. From 1910 to 1914, the rail trestles were built allowing steam trains of the day to pass through, an important connector for the people and business from the Kootenays to the Coast. But when rail transportation became less popular, the old rail lines sat unused. That is until the 1990s, when a group of passionate volunteers decided to revitalize them into a recreational trail for cyclists.
The Kettle Valley Rail Trail extends for 600 kms, from Midway to Hope, B.C. We were only on a small section of it, and it was impressive.
There we were nearly 1,500 metres above the valley, and I could just picture and hear the sound of the trains chugging along here, with tendrils of steam billowing. And I was grateful we were able to enjoy the hard work of some recreational visionaries.
Back to those tunnels, there are two along this route. And what a feeling that is, cycling into the dark and cool air of the tunnel and then bursting back out into the beautiful light of the day.
And, as for Ed summoning those ghost trains, you’ll just have to go on a ride with him to find out that story.
If You Go
- Check out #Route97 maps for your next road trip »
- Check out this link for more on the KVR Trail »
- Learn more from Dax Justin about the Kettle Valley Rail Trail by reading this ZenSeekers story »
About the Author: Dax Justin on Behalf of ZenSeekers
Dax Justin is a Canadian explorer, adventure/landscape photographer, visual content creator, and destination storyteller based in Alberta, Canada.
His photographic work focuses on outdoor adventure, landscapes, mountain lifestyle, people and sports. The photography captured on expeditions bring the adventure to a worldwide online audience in real time, expanding brand reach through social media and travel networks including Seekers Media.