Kettle Valley Railway Tour, June 2013
Riding the Rails Midway to Trestle # 4, Kettle Valley Tour, June 2013by Arleene Arnold
When Brian Fergusson sent out the email to see who was interested in cycling the Kettle Valley Rail Trail I jumped on board. This was a “bucket list” ride but one I was not comfortable riding on my own. Five of us completed the ride, Brian, Donna, Lauren, Brenda and I. We were a small but mighty group; a wonderful group to ride with, friendly, considerate, silly and entertaining. Thanks Brian for organizing the ride and for your attention to detail. Here are some of the highlights of my ride.
Day One: Midway to Little Dipper Campground:
- The wide variety of cycling terrain made for a most enjoyable and interesting day; single track, gravel, sand and grassy trails, gravel road and a little paved road.
- Opening and closing of cattle gates, I lost count at 20 and numerous Texas gate crossings (tentative at first then riding over them).
- Mingling with the shaggy long haired horned highland cows and their calves during a pasture crossing. They were unconcerned s we rode by. I think they have seen many cyclists.
- Fording the stream over the slippery culvert…team work required to get the loaded bikes over. I think Lauren was the only one who had wet feet. She helped everyone over.
- The” flower” walk with Lauren and Brenda with Lauren’s flower identification book in hand.
- Kinky the cat, born with a crooked tail, and the 16 year old dog at the campsite.
- Brain and Donna’s chemical free mosquito spray.
Day Two: Little Dipper campground to Beaverdale
- The creek crossing with shoes off, oh so cool on hot, sweaty toes.
- Bushwhacking 1.5 kilometers of downed trees on the trail. Lift bike over, slide bike under, push bike over, ride bike over and repeat, repeat, repeat.
- Zach’s campground in Beaverdale with the Kettle River running through it. Part of the campsite is actually on a little island.
- The interesting but strange town of Beaverdale.
- Marley’s Café, by far the coolest funkiest pizzeria and ice cream parlor.
Day Three: Beaverdale to McCulloch Lake Campground
- Bear tracks, bear scat, bear hair but no bears.
- Looking for birds on the many ponds and river along the way.
- The detour around a rock slide area which entailed a short (in kilometers) but long (in time) ride up and down a mountain gravel, sandy road. Made us appreciate the 2% railway grade.
- A cabana on the shore of a small, lush lake with ample wetland. I thought for sure I would see a moose grazing but no such luck.
- The two very tame wild deer that walked very close to Brenda, Lauren and I as if we were not even there.
- Eating two suppers, Kraft dinner and a freeze dried meal of chicken breast and mashed potatoes dinner which was very yummy.
- The campground host that loaned us his computer to watch a documentary about the Kettle Valley railway, then being too tired to pay attention to it.
Day Four: McColloch Lake Campground to Trestle # Four
- Water detour, we had to push our bikes off the trail up the side of the mountain and around the water. Again team effort required.
- All the other smaller puddle crossings that we could ride through.
- The trestles, what can I say….beautiful.
Each day had a small challenge, not enough to make the trip a burden but enough to provide a little adventure. A trip well worth taking. Thanks Brian, Donna, Brenda and Lauren for sharing it with me.
Thoughts about Then (2003) vs. Now (2013)by Brian Fergusson
- There was an adventure every day – including: a) going under, over and around blown down trees; b) fording feeder creeks / streams; c) riding through or around large puddles of standing water; or d) a portaging around puddles too big to ride through or around.
- Fairly consistent with 2003, but worth pointing out to anyone interested in riding the KVR, is the trail surface is highly variable. It can be dusty, muddy, rocky, or bumpy – or all of these within a short span.
- The trail from Midway to Rock Creek is now better marked / signed, though at times over-grown by vegetation, with the last few kilometers in to Rock Creek on asphalt. In spite of that I would recommend this as a better option than riding the highway.
- There was more riding on asphalt than I remember from 2003, perhaps because of some fairly militant land owners who don’t want strangers passing through their property.
- There was no water for us at Rhone – I understand Paul Lautard is now somewhere in the range of 93 years young, so perhaps not as spry as we once was!
- Worth noting is the Beaverdell General Store sells beer and coolers if you are so inclined. I know we were and it was quite enjoyable.
- On that note – if you like pizza you must visit Marley’s! Very basic decor, but great pizza and a totally unexpected and enjoyable surprise.
- The late Spring, coupled with our earlier timing (2nd week of June vs. 2nd of July) meant we encountered a lot more water on the trail, and far less dust. Regardless, I would recommend riding the KVR in mid to late June, before things get too hot in the Okanagan.
- We took a few detours around certain sections (e.g. Wilkinson Creek) that we didn’t take in 2003 – I would strongly recommend not taking these detours as they usually ended up on a forest service road with sections that were steep, rocky or both. I would recommend sticking to the trail and taking chances with water or sloppy conditions.
- The Little Dipper Hideaway (B&B and campground) is now operational 10 km. north of Westbridge – essentially right on the trail. It’s a nice spot, though the proprietor appears a bit gruff at first. Apparently it opened not long after we rode the KVR in 2003.
- It would be quite possible to arrange a supported tour and take advantage of B&Bs along the way (e.g. Little Dipper Hideaway, Zack’s in Beaverdell, Idabell Lake (Raven’s Inn B&B) and the Chute Lake Resort (not a B&B – lodge & cabins). If there was a van & trailer (or truck) that could haul camping gear, etc. for those camping, and luggage for those staying in B&Bs, I suspect we could have a much larger contingent than the 5 of us who rode the KVR in June.
Kettle Valley Railway Tour 2003 Photos