World Champion Professional Athlete Sonya Looney recently spent a day exploring outdoor adventure in Penticton. She shares her experience on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, the Three Blind Mice Trails, and how to best wrap up the day with some tasty treats and craft brews.
Nestled along the historic Highway 97 is the picturesque town of Penticton. Translated from the Interior Salish word, snpintktn, Penticton means ‘a place to stay forever.’ Its namesake is not hard to grasp with the expansive Okanagan Lake on one side of the town and the sandy banks of Skaha Lake on the other. Penticton is the gateway to an incredibly scenic portion of Route 97. The surrounding mountains are full of great rock climbing routes, mountain bike trails, hiking, and skiing in the winter. As an added bonus, Penticton’s outdoor playground is uncrowded so you can enjoy activities in the solitude of nature.
The Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail enters Naramata and Penticton by way of Chute Lake. It transforms into a paved path passing by manicured orchards, elegant vineyards, and beautiful views of Okanagan Lake. The KVR Trail is a great option for sightseeing as a family, a bike ride, or a mellow stroll in the fall sunshine. You’ll find the fresh and local bounty of the orchards you pass at the Penticton Farmer’s Market, as well as frequent farm stands along Route 97. The KVR Trail is so much more than a historical section of The Great Trail (Trans Canada Trail), it’s a connector of the outdoor community to local culture in Penticton.
Three Blind Mice
Just off the KVR Trail are several regional parks, ideal for the trail enthusiast. This includes one of the most popular places to hike and mountain bike in the Okanagan; the Three Blind Mice trail system. If you’re coming into town for a weekend getaway, bring your bike and running shoes. Park off Naramata Road and Ohlhausen Road and you’ll find a map for the KVR. There’s even a stand for your bike complete with tools and a floor pump. Follow the KVR north and turn right on Riddle Road. At the top, you’ll enter the Three Blind Mice Trail System and find signage and maps. Get the TrailForks app for a live GPS map of each trail, the direction it should be traversed, and difficulty level. The Three Blind Mice offers beginner flow trails all the way to double black diamond ultra rocky terrain.
Here’s a preview of the trails:
After you’ve finished playing among the Ponderosa Pines, enjoy the grand views of Okanagan Lake and post-ride rewards. For an immediate fix, stop by Hillside Winery, located on the KVR Trail, as you head toward the parking lot or venture back into town.
While Penticton and Naramata are known for their wineries, craft beer enthusiasts have something to celebrate as well. Craft beer is blowing up in the Okanagan. As a group, mountain bikers love sharing adventure stories over a post-ride beer. If you’re looking for a restaurant vibe, go to Bad Tattoo Brewing and wash down one of their famous pizzas with a selection of signature and seasonal taps. Don’t forget to start with the German-style soft pretzels!
For a microbrewery vibe, head to Penticton’s newest hot spot: Highway 97 Brewery. Sample some of the most unique (and tasty) brews in the Valley with bar seating and a welcoming wood counter. You’ll see the locally-made stainless steel brewing tanks where the newest batches of beer ferment.
Penticton is just one stop on a road trip along Route 97 with so much more to be explored!
What are your favourite things to do in Penticton? Tag us in your photos @discoverroute97 or by using #Route97.