What Makes Kelowna A Great Cycling Destination?
Bicycling in Kelowna and the surrounding area has never been better. Whether you prefer road or mountain biking, the choice of terrain is almost endless. With world famous ski-hill-turned-bike-parks like Silverstar Mountain — just outside of Vernon — or the newly-opened trails at Big White, located less than 45 minutes outside of Kelowna, mountain biking has grown to become one of the big drawing cards for cycling enthusiasts visiting the Okanagan. Mountain biking trails are prolific across Kelowna, like the Crawford Estates area to the south, and West Kelowna’s Smith Creek area. The Kettle Valley Railway is a converted rail bed that is a favourite for recreational cyclists. On the road, you will find many roads that loop through orchards and along the lakeshore. Filled with orchards, quiet roads and wonderful scenery, Southeast Kelowna offers many choices. You would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful ride than following Lakeshore road along the shores of Lake Okanagan in Kelowna’s Upper Mission area.
Mountain Biking Around the Okanagan
Big White became a true four-season recreation destination this year with the opening of their mountain bike park in August. Coupled with its world-class skiing, the new bike park proves that Big White is one of Canada’s best recreation areas. Accommodation rentals are available year round at the hill. Many of these are self-managed by the individual property owners, and prove to be good investment properties that allow owners to earn income when they aren’t using the property themselves.
Kelowna’s south slope mountain biking trails have been carved out of Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park. These trails offer options from beginner to expert. Many climb through the park all the way to the Kettle Valley Railway with exciting and challenging descents that are only rivalled by the scenery. The Kettle Valley Railway is most famous for the Myra Canyon section of the trail that has 18 trestles and 2 tunnels. With the rail bed having no more than a 2% grade, this is a perfect ride for every level of cyclist. In West Kelowna, the Smith Creek trail network is the main drawing card. With well known trails like “The Holy Pail”, and “Santa’s Revenge”, you can find some of the best all-mountain riding anywhere in the Okanagan. This trail network offers winding climbs with many of the descents combining natural challenges with man-made stunts and jumps. There are maps available online for all of these trail networks at www.trailforks.com.
Road Cycling through Kelowna
Road cyclists need not feel left out. Kelowna has many quiet roads that travel through the orchards and by our many lakes. Southeast Kelowna has an almost endless number of roads that wind through the different orchards. The Pandosy/Lakeshore Road ride is a favourite of recreational and serious riders alike, featuring over 20 kilometers of rolling terrain with no climbs longer than 800 meters. In West Kelowna there is a fantastic climb of just over 15 kilometers, taking you from lake level all the way to Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. This climb winds its way through a quiet subdivision of Glenrosa until you reach the final ascent, climbing through 8 kilometers of solitary forest to the summit. For a longer ride, the 90 kilometer ride from Kelowna to The Predator Ridge Golf Community and back along Glenmore and Commonage Road is a favourite. This ride offers every type of terrain imaginable, with a final climb to Predator Ridge of over 7 kilometers that really tests the legs! The lake and valley views on this ride will make you want to complete this challenging ride every time you visit Kelowna.
Cycling Events for Adults and Youth
Kelowna is also home to some excellent youth development cycling opportunities. The Red Devils Cycling group founded by local resident and former Tour de France rider Axel Merckx was started in 2014 and has grown to include both young mountain and road cyclists from the ages of 12 to 18. These groups are organized to develop enthusiasm for the sport, not just racers. Axel Merckx also organizes a youth development road cycling camp on the Labour Day Weekend in Kelowna that attracts kids from British Columbia, Alberta and Washington State.
Penticton is home to one of Canada’s largest fondo road cycling events. The Axel Merckx Prospera Granfondo attracts thousands of cyclists to ride the 55, 92, 126 or full 160 Km routes that take you through the beautiful South Okanagan. There are also fondo-style events in Vernon and Kelowna that are equally enjoyable but not as large or well-known. Kelowna is home to two road racing activities every week throughout the summer. There is a Tuesday evening 16 kilometer individual time trial and a Thursday evening criterium that attract up to 60 riders in each different category every week.
Whether you prefer mountain or road, racing or recreational, and whatever your age, the Okanagan offers some of Canada’s best cycling activities. The many great bicycle stores in Kelowna are always more than happy to guide you in your best choices to make your Okanagan cycling adventure truly memorable. You never know — you may even run in a pro cyclist or two during your ride.