Hiking or biking the Kettle Valley Rail Trail is a good way to travel through British Columbia’s wild spaces and the province’s history. The original Kettle Valley Railway opened in 1915. Now, the decommissioned tracks are home to an extensive recreational trail that provides almost 650 km (400 mi) of connected pathways from Hope to Castlegar.
You can experience the trail on your own or as part of an organized tour; rent a bike for the day or take a multi-day tour. If you’re looking for more than a hike or bike ride, tour operators will often pair cycling trips with brewery tours or wine tastings.
Most commonly used for cycling and hiking, certain sections also allow horseback riding, motorized vehicles, or snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. You can even take a train ride on one section.
You can access the trail throughout the entire network from established parking areas. Pick a section to explore or ride the whole distance. Here are just five options.
1. Myra Canyon, Kelowna
The route through Myra Canyon required the construction of 18 trestle bridges and two tunnels, and is now a National Historic Site of Canada. Located south of Kelowna, it remains one of the most popular sections of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail for sightseeing, hiking, and cycling.
2. Kettle Valley Steam Railway, near Summerland
The Kettle Valley Steam Railway operates on the only remaining active section of the railway. Take a 90-minute journey back in time in a restored 1912 Steam Locomotive — the ultimate railway adventure. There’s even a special train robbery experience on selected dates.
Follow the Kettle Valley Rail Trail in Penticton and tour through Naramata, BC’s abundant wine region. Allow extra time as you’ll want to pause to take in the view and stop for a wine tasting or two along the way.
4. Midway, Near Mile 0 of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail
This is where it all started. Between the Kootenay and the Okanagan Mountains, the first regularly scheduled passenger train departed in 1915 and the last in 1964. Be sure to visit the Kettle River Museum to learn more about the steam railway.
5. Othello Tunnels, near Hope
This part of the trail takes you along the Coquihalla River to the historic Othello Tunnels in Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. If the stunning cliffs surrounding the trail look familiar, it could be because they were the setting for the movie Rambo: First Blood.
Featured image: A couple enjoys the sunset on one of the trestle bridges overlooking Myra Canyon on the Kettle Valley Railway. Photo: Kari Medig