The Kettle Valley Rail Trail – A Great Adventure

Situated in central southern British Columbia, this converted railway to trail way traverses some of Canada’s warmest climates through spectacular mountain and valley scenery.  With a maximum 2.2% grade, the trail can be cycled or hiked by most with just a little preparation.  We invite you to explore this site to gain a good idea of the terrain and what to expect along the way.

kettlevalley rail trailThe Kettle Valley Rail Trail extends from Midway in the east to Brodie in the west, with spurs connecting to Grand Forks east of Midway, Merritt north of Brodie and to Hope south of Brodie.  There is also a spur route from the middle of the trail in Penticton to Osoyoos in the south.  This site focuses on the Carmi Subdivision which runs from Midway to Penticton and also includes the spur routes to Grand Forks and Osoyoos.  For a much great challenge,  a loop route from Midway to Midway can be cycled – this includes a final day road cycling from Osoyoos to Midway and includes the arduous climb up Anarchist Mountain before descending to Midway.

Cycling the Carmi Subdivision – Midway to Penticton

Planning a trip along the KVR is not always as simple as it may seem! Accommodation can be limited, detours and obstacles along the way, shuttles to get you to/from the start of the trail – where to get food?! So! let us take the guess work out for you – from bike rentals to organizing your shuttles to helping you plan the perfect itinerary – KVR Cycle Tours is with you every pedal stroke of the way!

Self-guided tours from 4- 6 days of Midway to Penticton is our specialty on the KVR. Choose from our listed dates, or if they don’t suit your time frame, just send us an email and we’ll see what we can arrange for you. Discounts apply for groups, so gather up some friends! If you are looking for more support, some surprisingly special, only available through KVR Cycle Tours itinerary accommodation, information and guidance, trail tips, someone to shuttle your luggage (and wine?!) – that’s us!

We’ve been offering tour packages now for 7 years and have catered to individuals, couples, friends and groups from all over the world. Let us help you have the absolute best experience cycling this iconic rail trail!

If you’re definitely a DIY person, there is plenty of information available throughout this website to help you.

The 215 kilometre stretch from Midway/Mile 0 to Penticton is a popular section to ride as a multi day trip.

You can add on to either end of the trail joining up with Greenwood east of Midway or continue on the Spur Route South from Penticton south to Okanagan Falls, Oliver and Osoyoos.

Finishing with a day on the road, you can even make a full loop trip, from Midway to Midway via Osoyoos (but a word of caution – there’s a mountain to climb to do so!”) And of course you can pick shorter sections of the trail – see “Suggested Itineraries” on this page for all these options.

For more tips & photos on cycling Midway to Penticton and to Osoyoos – visit our BLOG SERIES

Cycling Midway to Penticton will take an average of 5 days to complete the entire route averaging 43 km/day. It is described here from east to west but of course you can do it in either direction. Cycling in the east to west direction will mean you are steadily gaining elevation to Chute Lake, but at a very gentle grade. You then finish with some good downhill sections and switchbacks and coast into Penticton through vineyards and orchards – nice way to end the trip!

18.2 km: Midway to Rock Creek

Starting from behind the Kettle River Museum in Midway, the terrain is relatively flat as you cycle through rolling farmland valleys following the Kettle River west to Rock Creek. You will pass through a number of gates on this section – please be sure to close them behind you.

14.8 km: Rock Creek to Westbridge

From here the trail begins to head northwest to Westbridge which is a the junction of the Kettle River and the West Kettle River at km 33. Although the trail is climbing throughout this section, it is at a very gentle grade.

35 km: Westbridge to Beaverdell

From Westbridge the trail continues north following the West Kettle River to Beaverdell at km 68. Turn left at Rhone Road to visit the Kettle River Caboose at Paul Lataurd’s Cyclists rest stop. Follow this past the Little Dipper Campground until you see the trail again on your left. Continue on to Beaverdell through the gorge and slightly uphill.

53 km: Beaverdell to Idabel & McCulloch Lakes

From Beaverdell there is quite a long stretch between villages and services so be sure to plan ahead. Arlington Lakes is a lovely lunch spot about midway, then continue to climb to the lakes region of Idabel Lake (slightly off the trail) and McCulloch Lake (Hydraulic Lake) at Km 121.

14 km: McCulloch Lake to Myra Canyon

Arriving at Myra Canyon at Km 135 you will be approximately 1000 metres above the city of Kelowna. It is well worth taking your time here and
stopping for plenty of photos as you cross the 18 trestle bridges over the canyon. If you are planning an extended layover at Kelowna you can depart the trail at either either end of the canyon – Myra Station or Ruth Station. Just beware the ride back up will be challenging!

36.4 km: Myra Canyon to Chute Lake

The next stop is Chute Lake with a rustic Lodge, full of character! camping and some supplies at km 171.4. There are paddle boats you can hire and be sure to try the pie!

26.6 or 43.6: Chute Lake to Naramata & Penticton

From Chute Lake the trail descends and you will now know have much you have actually climbed as you look out over the beautiful Okanagan Lake and valley. Be careful on some sandy sections, especially later in summer. We highly recommend a stop over in Naramata but beware the climb back to the trail. Or continue through tunnels, vineyards and orchards to Penticton at Km 215.

The Spur Route South – Beyond Penticton to:
  • Kaleden
  • Okanagan Falls
  • Oliver
  • Osoyoos

Be prepared for some fabulous scenery and mostly easy riding.

This section is a mixture of trail and paved road (Hwy 97) and travels south along river channels, marshes and past rolling hills of vineyards and orchards. Potentially the hottest weather in this area.

5 km: Lakeshore Drive to Skaha Lake

This route begins from the shores of the Okanagan Lake at the north end of Penticton, near the SS Sicamous. Follow the pathway beyond the rose garden which will lead you to the Channel Pathway along Hwy 97 heading south at Skaha Lake.

7 km: Skaha Lake to Kaleden

Turn left down Lakehill Road to Skaha Lake and trail access on the west side of Skaha Lake. From here the trail skirts along the lake past Sickle Point (lots of birds – watch for Trumpeter Swans) and comes out into the lovely community of Kaleden. You will see the remnants of the old Kaleden Hotel on your right as you head south. Built in 1912 it closed during WW1 and with the advent of the Depression, gradually succumbed to all the fixtures and fittings being taken down and sold off. Just past the hotel you will arrive at the Kaleden Pioneer Park with washrooms and beach access.

8 km: Kaleden to OK Falls

The trail turns into Ponderosa Avenue for a ways through Kaleden – just keep the lake on your left and continue south and you will be on trail again. The railway trestle at the end of the lake brings you to the waterfront park in Okanagan Falls.

Kettle Valley Rail Trail

23 km: Okanagan Falls to Oliver & 21 km: Oliver to Osoyoos

In Okanagan Falls head south on Maple Street – (go 2 blocks east of Hwy 97 to access) which will give you a quieter option from Hwy 97. Maple Street
turns into Oliver Ranch Road and comes complete with great scenery, a few wineries and a few hills. This road ends at Hwy 97 near the north end of Vaseux Lake.

At this point, it is necessary to cycle along Hwy 97 heading south. The trail begins again at the junction of Hwy 97 and Tuc-el-nuit drive – approx. 14.5 km. Watch for the parking lot across from the Oasis Gas Station. There are a number of access roads over the next 17 km that you can take to turn west into Oliver or visit many of the wineries in the area. Hwy 97 from Oliver to Osoyoos offers many roadside fruit and vegie stands with local produce.

From the trail parking lot, head over the bridge and follow the trail slightly downhill along the Okanagan River south through pretty country of marshes and rolling hills covered in orchards and vineyards. The trail is paved then hard packed gravel and ends at Road # 22. Turn west towards Hwy 97 on Road 22 then south on Hwy 97 for the final 6 km to Osoyoos.

Total Lakeshore Drive, Penticton to Osoyoos – approximately 57.5 km including approximately 20.5 km on Hwy 97 South where there is no trail.

The ultimate challenge! cycle the Full Circle Route – Midway to Midway.

Osoyoos to Midway

If you ride beyond Osoyoos, you will be faced with the daunting climb up Mount Anarchist but once you have summited, the ride is predominantly downhill or flat – and there is something peculiarly satisfying about completing a full circle route!

This final section is on the road, Hwy #3 East, until you reach Rock Creek where you can return to the trail or continue on the road. It is pleasant enough with a good shoulder and not much traffic. From Rock Creek you can cruise the final 20.8 km by road to Midway, or return to the trail.

This day is potentially the longest ride at 68.9 km, or spend one last “trail night” in Rock Creek at km 48 before finishing your ride to Midway the following morning.

From Main St/Hwy 3 E in Osoyoos, begin cycling out of town and slightly uphill.

You will pass the N’Kmip winery on your left which is definitely worth a visit if you haven’t the previous day! Just past here you begin to really climb and continue to do so for about 18 km. The climb is predominantly 6-7% grade. Best tip is to do this early in the morning before the heat!

Enjoy the views along rolling grasslands as you reenter Boundary Ranch Country. The final 3 km into Rock Creek is a steep descent with one switchback.

Either spend a night in Rock Creek, or if you continue on the road you have another 20 km to Midway on Hwy 3 E. To access the KVR, turn left in Rock Creek onto Hwy 33 (at the bottom of the descent), cross the bridge over the Kettle River and pick up the trail on the opposite side.

Arrive Midway – your Circle Ride complete! Congratulations!

From the Kettle River Museum in Midway you can head east on a spur line of the Kettle Valley Railway to the Columbia & Western Railway. This will take you gently uphill to the lovely heritage city of Greenwood – Canada’s smallest incorporated city. You can go even further east to Grand Forks with it’s rich history of Russian Doukhobor settlement and beyond there all the way to Castlegar – 160 km east of Midway.

Midway to Greenwood

One of our favorite day trips is to cycle from Midway to Greenwood for lunch, then return riding downhill all the way! KVR Outfitterscan meet you in Midway with bike rentals and directions, along with recommendations for a historical walk on the way or in town and where to go for lunch in Greenwood. Begin your ride from the Kettle River Museum in Midway.

Arriving in Greenwood, the trail runs along just outside the main street, but by turning off and exploring this city you step into what could only be described as a colourful experience! From the outburst of colour of the innumerable hanging baskets, Greenwood pronounces its colourful past with a burst of blues, greens, yellows and reds. Just take the time to stroll the streets, visit the museum and soak up some of the colour history of Canada’s smallest incorporated city. Return by retracing your steps back to Midway.

The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is one small but significant part of the world’s largest trail – the Trans Canada Trail. At over 22,000 kilometres in length it reaches 3 oceans – the Atlantic to the Pacific and north to the Arctic. It is a blend of historic trails, pathways, roadways and abandoned rail beds – such as the KVR.

This creation of one trail connecting the vast expanses, rich cultural heritage, communities and wilderness areas of Canada was begun with the Government announcement in 1992 during Canada’s 125th anniversary celebrations. Since then it has been a long, hard road of thousands of dedicated volunteers and organizers at all levels to see it gain momentum and become the grand trail it is today.

Some ambitious and dedicated cyclists and hikers have made their way across Canada and if you are looking for rides in the future, or to extend your Kettle Valley Rail Trail experience you will want to explore the Trans Canada Trail website.

They also have a Trail Locater on their site so you can pinpoint where you want to cycle and see if there is a trail in that area. You will see many signs along the route of the KVR designating the route as part of the TCT as well and there is a Trail Pavilion you may wish to visit in Penticton at the eastern end of Lakeshore Drive on the shores of the Okanagan Lake.

The trail also led to the creation of BC Trails in 1994 to help establish the British Columbia portion. This site now has some great information and maps on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail as well – just click on the towns on the left sidebar under General Information.

“Elevation of KVR, Carmi subdivision.  It looks scary, but it’s really exaggerated for effect.  The steepest grades between Chute Lake Lodge and Little Tunnel were only 2.2% (of course we were going downhill so it didn’t seem that bad).”
… from mapmaker “Bill” who cycled the trail in 2008 with a group of friends – see their photo blog here…2008 KVR Trip Midway to Penticton