Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Road Trip – report 3

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Mission accomplished – I have completed the Myra Canyon trestles, something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I was last up here five years ago when the whole province seemed to be in flames, and many roads were closed by thick choking smoke. The trestles burned soon afterwards and have only re-opened relatively recently.

The drive up to the canyon is an ear popper – and the last 8.5 km are on a steep and twisty forest service road. The Yaris breezed up it easily. There is a large car park at the top and a gate to prevent vehicle access. Then 12 kilometres of the former track bed (mostly) which has been laid with a good loose surface.

Me and my bike

Me and my bike

Before leaving home I had switched out the wheels so I now had off road tires. There are a few spots on the trail where there have been washouts and slides, and surface is not so great, so a good choice on the whole. I was not trying to break any speed records but getting there in the morning before the crowds arrived was also a good idea. While the forecast high in Kelowna was 28 today, up there it was distinctly cooler and everybody else seemed much better wrapped up than me. But once I got going I did not feel cold – except in the short tunnels and longer shady section.

The ride is a major attraction and at the height of the summer 500 visitors a day is not uncommon. I was pleased to meet some of the volunteers who made this possible and swapped yarns with people who had ridden the route before the trestles had decks and railings added. I stopped frequently as the opportunities for pictures are endless. I failed to get any shots of the little ground squirrels or the mule deer which flashed across my path. It is incredibly quiet, at least until around noon when the numbers of visitors started to grow rapidly.

My bike lacks a bell so I found my ability to imitate a steam train whistle quite useful. I also had lights for the tunnels but forgot that the front bracket (a nasty cheap plastic thing) had snapped off some time ago. Not that lights are needed.

Trestle and tunnel

Trestle and tunnel

By midafternoon I realised that one granola bar and a bottle of water was not enough. There is nothing near the canyon – and only earth closets when you get there. Not even a drinking fountain. The first sign of refreshment on the way down a was at a golf club who produced a very satisfying burger and fries and a pint of stout which filled the bill nicely.

It is also extremely dusty up there and I was glad of a swim when I got back. The motel also had complimentary fresh local fruit – huge peaches obviously straight off the tree which made me feel like I needed another bath by the time I had finished.

I will confess that for a long time I have disliked the idea of “rails to trails”. I would much prefer the rails to be put back – something that enthusiasts have achieved extensively in Britain. I always thought that trains would make a comeback as oil prices started to rise – as they have. But I suppose it is highly unlikely that much more of the KVR will reopen – beyond the short stretch in Peachland. The 12 km ride each way is easy because the grades are only around 1% – and anyway no one is in a hurry. I recommend that if you have not been here you should make the effort and get here. Bring a picnic and plan to spend the day.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 10, 2008 at 5:28 pm

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  1. I first went to Myra Canyon in ’90 or ’91, before the trestles had decks and railings added, and again in ’95 courtesty of Air-Hart tours, which flew us up to McCullough Lake for a bike tour, (which was an interesting experiance, considering I hadn’t ridden a bicycle for 15 years (or since, for that matter)…. I’ve heard that the one ‘silver lining’ is that the views are more spectacular, as there are no trees “in the way”…. many famous BC railway locations no longer lok the same as they did in the “Golden Age”.

    On a recent road trip I noticed that the Coumbia & Western and the Nakusp & Slocan had been converted to trails,.. I remember seeing trains on both on a similar roadrip in ’88

    For the ultimate rails to trails experience, try the trail from Sandon out to Payne Bluff, might not be do-able on a bike due to nasty grades on sections that snake down to creek bottms due to trestles that have been gone for 98 years, but quite enjoyable by foot.

    David Banks

    September 11, 2008 at 12:01 am

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