Kettle Valley Rail Trail Development
Draft Concept Plan
Chute Lake to Naramata
1. Strategic Context
- The opportunity
- Strategic Direction
2. Development Plan
- Trail Use Designation
- Motorized Opportunity Development
- Trail Development
- Staging Areas
- Kettle Valley Rail Trail Development
1. Concept map showing Rail Trail Network from Chute Lake to Naramata
2. Map showing shared / motorized use only
3. KVR only – showing different use designations on rail trail
1. Strategic Context
The Province owns over 2000 km of former rail corridors. Close to half of these
corridors are being used for recreation, with approximately 600 km established as
recreation trails by legislation and actively managed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands
and Natural Resource Operations. These trails are also designated as the Trans Canada
Trail and make up approximately 40% of the Trans Canada Trail across British Columbia.
Rail Trails represent an extraordinary recreation opportunity. Their length, scenery,
historic value and proximity to communities combined with a wide surface and low
grade, make them appealing to recreationists of all ages ‐ particularly cyclists. Although
a relatively new concept and as yet undeveloped in B.C., rail trails are well established
throughout the US. Neighbouring states to B.C. ‐ Washington and Idaho alone ‐ offer
thousands of kilometres of converted, high quality rail trails.
Besides providing opportunities for local communities to enjoy healthy nature based
recreation, rail trails have the potential to contribute significantly to local economies.
The Route of the Hiawatha Rail Trail in neighbouring Idaho is 24 km long and winds
through remote, mountain and valley terrain. The fee based trail attracted 37,502 users
paying $8 per day during the 2011 season. The trail supports a thriving bike rental and
shuttle service run by a concessionaire company as well as numerous ancillary
accommodation and service providers. Over 99% of trail users in 2012 were cyclists.
The Kettle Valley Rail Trail offers a rare opportunity for a low grade, long distance high
quality cycling trail unprecedented elsewhere in the Province. The greater “rail trail
network” offers opportunities for a greater diversity of recreation and this concept is
central to the Kettle Valley Rail Trail Development Concept Plan ‐ Chute Lake to
Since the purchase of the former rail corridors for conversion to recreation trails over 15
years ago by the Province, rail trails have not realized their potential. Following the
purchase of the corridors, the Province invested significantly in infrastructure to
complete the trail including re‐building bridges and trestles. However, for over a
decade, little progress was made on use management and developing a suitable trail
governance model. As a result, conflict between non‐motorized and motorized users of
the rail trail currently defines the initiative and presents a barrier to development of the
network. Recreation groups, communities and the Province as a whole are not realizing
the significant potential economic, health or social benefits of the trails.
Conflict amongst non‐motorized and motorized users of the rail trails has led to ongoing
conflict over much of the network. The trail use conflict is particularly apparent
closer to communities and developed areas. The conflict for the most part originates
from concerns about a quality tread surface, conflict with adjacent land owners and
social value conflict amongst types of users. A comprehensive management approach is
required to address these issues and to allow responsible development of the rail trail
Touring and recreational cyclists, seek a highly compact, hardened and smooth trail
surface. Travelling long distances, often carrying gear, touring cyclists will seek
alternative paved routes or are dissuaded from undertaking the trip if the tread surface
is not suitable. Prolonged use of the trail by motorized vehicles has been shown to
directly impact the trail tread. Prevalent motorized use discourages investment in a
high quality tread surface to achieve a desirable surface for cycling.
BC’s rail trails travel through communities, developed areas, agricultural areas and
wilderness. In more developed and agriculture areas, motorized use conflict with
landowners is common. Issues related to dust, time of use, noise and impacts to
agricultural operations, have resulted in a decline in support for the trail by some land
owners. The viability of the trail depends on support from neighbouring land owners
and the on‐going conflict continues to hamper development of the trail for all users.
Finally, a primary motivation for non‐motorized recreation trail users is to seek peaceful
solitude in a natural setting. Non‐motorized recreation trail users have reported that
presence of motorized vehicles and associated dust, noise and in many cases risk of
collision interfere directly with these goals.
As a result, extensive use by pedestrians, hikers and cyclists of remote rail trails has
become limited and tends to be highly concentrated within communities along the
trails. Despite over $50 million dollars in provincial, federal, local and non‐profit
investment in the trails since 1990, the primary use of the trail is currently by local
motorized users. All indications are that as motorized use increases, non‐motorized use
Growth in use of OHV’s in British Columbia has been considerable over the past two
decades. All‐Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s), dirtbikes, Utility Terrain Vehicles (side by sides)
are being used for recreation, primarily along resource roads throughout the Province.
The historic development of rail lines, linking communities and routed along main valley
bottom corridors make them ideal linkages for broader OHV recreation opportunities
‘upslope’ of the rail corridors themselves. Where resource roads often terminate in
high country, rail corridors provide continuity between valleys and favourite riding
areas. As well, OHV enthusiasts are increasingly expressing a desire for long distance
touring routes connecting communities. For these reasons, the former rail corridors are
sought after by motorized recreationists.
With both non‐motorized and motorized groups vying for use of the valuable corridors
and recognition of the differing needs of each group, successful development of the rail
trail concept in BC will depend on both groups working with the Province and local
governments to develop a consensus based approach that meets the needs of both
groups by considering solutions beyond the rail grade itself.
The Province is committed to working with all trail user groups to develop high quality,
legitimate recreation trail opportunities on Crown land. Opportunities exist to create
quality motorized riding areas as well as long distance OHV trails across the Province
(based on an assumption that public road crossings for summer OHV’s will be
implemented in the future). Similarly, the Province wishes to continue to support the
efforts of the non‐motorized community, Trans Canada Trail, Trails BC and many
communities across the southern interior seeking a high quality non‐motorized cycling
trail across southern BC taking advantage of the minimal trail grades on the extensive
and contiguous rail trail network.
Resolution of the long standing conflict between motorized and non‐motorized users on
B.C.’s rail trails depends on collaborative, community based consensus on use of the
trail. Success of the trail as a whole depends first and foremost on support from the
communities the trail passes through, local and regional government support, provincial
support and finally overarching advocacy from provincial and national organizations.
In the winter of 2011, the Province convened a provincial level Rail Trail Conflict
Resolution Steering Committee to guide resolution of the long standing issue. Members
of the Committee included representatives from the Provincial Ministry of Forests,
Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO), Trails BC (TBC), Quad Riders
Association of BC (ATV‐BC) and the BC Off‐Road Motorcycle Association (BCORMA). The
role of the Steering Committee was to develop, through consensus, a community based
resolution processes for the trail, select a pilot community to undertake the process and
provide guidance to a local working group through the implementation of a pilot
The Provincial Steering Committee identified commonly held objectives of their
respective user groups. Further, the Committee agreed upon a practical approach to
resolving the trail use issue in localized areas. A hierarchy of options to be considered
for local areas of the trail where use conflict is prevalent includes:
1. In partnership with motorized riders, identify and develop high quality
alternative motorized routes that:
a. meet the needs of motorized users
b. provides connections to key points of interest
c. includes adequate facilities to encourage motorized use
2. Where alternative routes are not available, seek opportunities to share the
right of way over limited distances by:
a. If not cost prohibitive, twinning the trail within the corridor for both
motorized and non‐motorized users
b. Separating the grade with use of barriers to minimize impacts to
tread surface by motorized vehicles
3. Where grade separation is not cost effective or feasible, designate shared
sections of the trail based on rules and signage.
In March of 2012, the Steering Committee selected the portion of the Kettle Valley Rail
Trail from the community of Naramata to the southwest boundary of Myra Canyon
Provincial Park (59 km) as the pilot area. A local working group made up of motorized
and non‐motorized users, local government representatives and provincial
representatives was convened. Through a process of meetings and field trips, the
Naramata Working Group arrived, through consensus, at a set of recommendations for
the portion of the KVR from Naramata to Chute Lake (phase 1) to achieve the goals of
both the motorized and non‐motorized trail users.
2. Development Plan
The Province, in cooperation with local and provincial trail user groups, local
governments, and stakeholders and with the support of First Nations, propose to
develop the KVR Rail Trail between the community of Naramata and Chute Lake for
primarily non‐motorized use. At the same time, this plan proposes to develop specific
alternative OHV routes, OHV staging areas and connect OHV users with key areas and
attractions traditionally accessed by the KVR. The overarching intention is to provide
high quality opportunities that meet the needs and reflect the values of both motorized
and non‐motorized users.
Trail Use Designation
To support this concept plan and based on agreed upon travel routes by the Naramata
Working Group, all portions of the KVR Trail between the Penticton City Boundary south
of the community of Naramata and Chute Lake Resort will be classified and designated
to identify appropriate and allowable uses. The trail portions will reflect summer nonmotorized
use, shared use or shared use with restrictions. Refer to Map 1 for an
overview of proposed trail designations
This plan does not address issues related to winter motorized use. All references to nonmotorized
use in this plan are intended to refer to summer non‐motorized use.
1. Penticton City Boundary to Arawana Road – Non‐motorized with limited motorized
(highway vehicle) access for tenure holders
This portion of the trail is directly contiguous to the non‐motorized section of the trail
within the Penticton municipal boundary. The Trail provides some access to range
lands for an active and tenured range license holder. As well, the trail has provided
some secondary lot access for residents adjacent to the trail. This portion of the trail
would be designated as non‐motorized. The Province will discuss options for limited
vehicle access for tenured land users and property owners based on conditions. The
intent would not be to provide recreational OHV access to the Trail for adjacent land
2. Arawana Road to Little Tunnel– Non‐motorized
The KVR between Arawana and Smethurst road is a highly popular and well used
walking and cycling route within a developed area. Motorized use of this portion of the
trail is not compatible with local trail use patterns for both safety and social reasons. In
addition, the section of trail from Smethurst Road to Little Tunnel provides access to the
“little tunnel”. Maintaining a non‐motorized designation allows connectivity of a long,
non‐motorized corridor from the City of Penticton to a high quality destination feature,
currently well used by pedestrians, dog‐walkers and cyclists.
A trail head staging area for motorized use is proposed adjacent to Smethurst Rd,
approximately 2.5km above the Smethurst‐KVR trail head. This staging area will provide
access to the Adra Tunnel and alternative OHV trails.
3. Little Tunnel to Glenfir – Shared Use
The section of trail from Little Tunnel to Glenfir will be designated as shared use with
motorized access from Glenfir. This shared use designation ensures motorized users
maintain access to highly valued destination feature ‐Little Tunnel.
4. Glenfir to Adra Tunnel (second track) – Non‐motorized
The adjacent Hydro line, once enhanced, provides a quality motorized alternative to
the ‘2nd’, and when linked by existing access roads to the ‘3rd track’ provides access to
Adra Station and beyond to the proposed Smethurst OHV staging area. The portion of
the KVR from Glenfir to Adra Tunnel will be designated as non‐motorized.
5. Adra Tunnel to Adra Station – Non‐motorized
The motorized alternative access to Adra tunnel that connects with the KVR at Adra
Station via a staging area on Smethurst Road (Naramata Creek FSR) allows continuation
of a non‐motorized designation of the KVR to Adra Station without limiting access to the
Adra Tunnel for OHV enthusiasts.
6. Adra Station to Elinor FSR – Shared Use
The alternative motorized access from the proposed staging area, joins the KVR at Adra
Station. The KVR is proposed for shared use between Adra Station and the KVR junction
with the Elinor Forest Service Road. The Elinor Forest Service Road, with modest
improvements, presents a quality motorized alternative accessing Chute Lake and
provides an OHV a “circle route” via connections to the Hydro line in the vicinity of
7. Elinor FSR to Chute Lake – Non‐motorized
The KVR between the Elinor FSR Junction on the 3rd track and Chute Lake Lodge will be
designated as non‐motorized, based on the availability of a quality alternative for
motorized users to access Chute Lake via Elinor FSR.
True shared use is generally difficult to achieve as motorized and non‐motorized trail
use conflict is asymmetrical – the effects of one user’s activities on the other is not
equal in the reverse. This asymmetrical conflict is well known and has been addressed
by the Naramata Working Group through the development of a trail user’s etiquette
specific to shared use sections. This etiquette includes respectful behaviour by all trail
users, speed restrictions, divided sections of trail, barriers, signage and surface
Motorized Opportunity Development
The working group has identified a number of objectives for motorized recreation use of
this plan area. Specifically, access to riding opportunities beyond the KVR and the ability
to ride big loops, high quality trails, and access to destination features (identified by the
working group as Little Tunnel, Adra Tunnel, Rock Ovens Regional Park, views of
Okanagan Lake, access to Chute Lake and a view point known as “Eagle Perch Rock”).
Additionally, motorized enthusiasts have indicated that maintaining access to the
considerable resource road riding opportunities upland of the KVR remains a primary
A plan for development of trails and infrastructure to ensure motorized users can
achieve these objectives is being proposed. A map of the motorized riding opportunities
associated with the working group is attached under “map 2”. While the working group
has developed the concept of this loop centred around the rail trail network and the
associated destination features, it should be noted that there are significant, other
motorized opportunities in the area that this plan intends to enhance and connect with.
Some sections of trail noted above require various improvements to meet the working
group criteria for quality motorized trails.
1. Motorized trail enhancements from Adra Tunnel to Adra Station
a. Improvements to water management
c. Walking trails from parking areas to Adra tunnel (each end). This
includes the creation of parking areas and walking trails from
motorized alternative trails to Adra Tunnel entrances
2. Shared use improvements Adra Station to Elinor FSR
a. Explore potential for separated grade
b. Signage to manage use and user expectations
9 | P a g e
c. Surfacing improvements
d. Intersection signage and engineering at the intersection of the KVR
and Elinor FSR
3. Elinor FSR from 3rd track to Chute Lake
b. Water management
c. Road surface improvements over steep and rocky portions
4. Elinor Forest Service Road from 3rd track to Hydro line (via “flume trail”)
b. Water management
c. Secure access agreement with private land owner along hydro line
5. Hydro line trail improvements
c. Bridge at creek crossing on utility corridor at approximately
49°41’13.19”N and 119°33’35.40”W
d. Surfacing improvements and re‐routing steep portions
Staging and parking areas ensure users, particularly OHV users, have adequate facilities
to support their recreation opportunities. For motorized users this usually entails day
use parking area with adequate space for vehicles and associated trailers. Outhouse
facilities and day use picnic facilities enhance the staging area.
1. Smethhurst FSR Staging Area
A day use staging area for motorized users is proposed on Smethurst Road
(Naramata Creek FSR). The proposed area is approximately 2.5 kilometres along
the FSR above the KVR junction. The area is flat ground, previously disturbed
and partially roaded and therefore well suited to development of a staging area.
Construction of this staging area will involve some earth works and installation
of sign kiosks and trail markers.
The Smethurst staging area will provide an OHV linkage near to the Adra Tunnel
(and permit easy pedestrian access to both entrances) and a direct trail linkage
to Adra Station and the shared use portion of the KVR linking to Chute Lake via
the Elinor FSR.
2. Northeast Glenfir Staging Area
A day use staging area is proposed adjacent to the Chute Lake Road, below the
junction Hydro line crossing. This staging area will provide direct OHV access to
the Hydro line trail and OHV route to Chute Lake.
OHV signage for route identification and way finding is a critical component to the
development of the OHV trail opportunities. Adequate and reliable signage will ensure
that OHV riders are able to clearly follow designated and intended routes, have clear
understanding of where OHV use is permitted and are able to recreate safely
throughout the area.
Development of the OHV Trail network will include a comprehensive, educational, way
finding and reassurance signage program.
Kettle Valley Rail Trail Development
Development of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail as a world class recreation trail requires a
significant investment in a high quality tread surface. Clarity around trail use will enable
the Province and partners to invest in this portion of the rail trail specifically, the tread
Recent surfacing work completed across BC and along rail trails in other jurisdictions has
indicated that surfacing with aggregate materials does not stand up to repeated OHV
use. Therefore, the initiative to enhance the KVR Trail with a high quality, very compact
aggregate surface will focus on areas of non‐motorized use.
The Province, in partnership with the Regional District Okanagan‐Similkameen will
undertake a trail surfacing project. Surfacing will be initiated at Arawana Road where
recent works were completed and be completed along the trail towards Chute Lake as
resources permit. Resurfacing works from Arawana Road to Little Tunnel will be the
first priority followed by resurfacing of the ‘2nd track’.
In addition to resurfacing, funding will be made available for infrastructure
requirements as they are identified including trailhead enhancements, outhouse
facilities, signage, benches, interpretive signage etc.
Signage was noted as a key trail development tool by both the Steering Committee and
the Working Group. Signage fulfils a number of important roles:
1. Way finding and directional signage.
Way finding signage is critical to ensuring quality recreation experiences. Where
routes are being proposed that deviate from the rail corridor, signage will be used
to ensure unfamiliar users to the area can travel with confidence and reach
destinations while fulfilling their recreation objectives. Ensuring users follow
designated routes also serves to ensure conflicts with other users and stakeholders
on the land base are minimized.
2. Use management
Signage can be used to communicate etiquette, rules and expectations to trail
users. This can include trail etiquette for users including speed limits, interaction
protocol, guidelines for respecting other stakeholders (range users) etc. The
working group has identified trail use etiquette as an important tool in this plan
and signage will play a critical role in establishing and maintaining that etiquette.
3. Managing user expectations
Signage can be used to ensure various user groups understand and know what to
expect. Signage will be used to identify areas of shared or single use along the rail
A comprehensive signage program will be developed to meet the 3 primary objectives
noted above. Trail signage will also be located at trail junctions, where trail use
changes, at kiosks and trail heads. Signage at trail heads will be used to communicate
overall area use objectives to all users.
Interpretive signage at key features and areas of interest will also be developed.
Education is a key component of community based trail management. Education
through signage, local and regional media and community dialogue will users clearly
understand trail use expectation and regulations and ensure that all users are able to
achieve their recreation goals. An effective education program is particularly important
in the early stages to reduce the need for more formal and costly enforcement
Implementation of the trail and infrastructure improvements will be accompanied by a
comprehensive education and communication plan supported by the Province, RDOS
and stewardship groups.
Enforcement is a key component of ensuring land use is implemented according to a
consensus based planning process. It is anticipated that enforcement will be required
early in the process to achieve changes in use patterns. Compliance and Enforcement
officers in MFLNRO, the District Recreation Officer, Conservation Officers and local
RCMP may be involved in aspects of a comprehensive enforcement program. As use
patterns become more established over time, it is anticipated that the need for
enforcement will decrease.
Implementation of the KVR Development Plan between Naramata and Chute Lake will
occur based on available resources of all partners, most notably the Province and the
Regional District Okanagan‐ Similkameen. The Province and the RDOS anticipate a two
year process to achieve the majority of objectives identified in this plan. As funding
levels for both levels of government vary, implementation may be accelerated or may
require additional time.
The Province, the RDOS and the Working Group anticipate initiating some field based
projects in the fall of 2012. This could include development of the Smethurst staging
area as well as trail surfacing work between Arawana Road and Little Tunnel. It is
anticipated that the majority of trail improvements, surfacing work, OHV trail
enhancements and signage would be put in place during the 2013 field season.
Implementation of regulatory designations for trail use, established under section 20 of
the Forest Recreation Regulation would coincide with development of alternative OHV
opportunities and would be targeted for the 2013 summer motorized riding season.
A Journey along the Historic Kettle Valley Railway
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
Young Canadians Challenge
Gold Exploration Report
Gold Trip Photo’s (Trans Canada Trail and Kettle Valley Railway)
“I expect to pass this way but once.
Therefore, any good thing that I can do, or
any kindness I can show my fellow creature,
let me do it now. Let me not defer it, nor
neglect it, for I shall not pass this way
To all young people who journey far or
near, I dedicate this journey.
“It is good to have an end to journey
toward, but it is the journey that matters in
-Ursula K. LeGuin
Early in the fall of 2002 my Venturer Company decided that we wanted to give ourselves the challenge of cycling the entire Historic Kettle Valley Railway over the period of two years.
We had two reasons. We all knew of the wonderful sights and interesting things to see.
There was a great history lesson to be learned just by traveling the rail bed. Second, the trips would provide us with a good solid physical challenge.
This dream soon became reality as we packed the vehicle that would deliver us to the start of our first journey and then follow us as safety vehicles. This was to become my first practise journey. Over the 2002-2003 season we made a total of three trips. For me, this entailed two practise journeys and my qualifying journey.
Practise Journey One: Carmi to Kelowna – view pictures
A month after the dream was created we were finally finished the planning for our first trip.
We started 10 kilometres past Carmi Station on a Friday morning in October and started pedaling towards Kelowna. We spent the night in a cabin owned by Scouts Canada near the Myra Canyon area. The second day took us through Myra Canyon and to a forestry access road which we rode down and into Kelowna. The trip totalled approximately 90 kilometres and lasted two days.
Practise Journey Two: Naramata to Osoyous – view pictures
In mid March we headed out towards Naramata and regained the Kettle Valley Railway just below the snow level. We set off towards Penticton, stopping on the way to have lunch and later to visit the gravesite of Andrew McCulloch and his family. This man was greatly responsible for the planning and building of major portions of the Kettle Valley Railway. The Railway is often referred to as McCulloch’s Wonder. We spent the first night in Keledon and the second night in a Forestry camp south of Vaseux Lake and continued riding until we finished in Osoyoos. Much of the Kettle Valley Railway has been destroyed by farmers’ fields and in the last section and you must ride a paved bike trail for a considerable time.
What little of the rail bed still exists lies in farmers’ fields and is not accessible. The trip totalled about 100 kilometres in length and lasted three days.
Preparations and Training
My practise journeys prepared me for my qualifying journey in many ways. First, and most importantly it gave me an indication of my physical capabilities and readiness for a larger and longer journey. While on these shorter journeys I was able to practise basic bicycle repairs and maintenance in a situation where help was not far away. However, I believe that the greatest learning experience was the cycling itself. I learned what pace I could maintain and how far I could reasonably go in one day. These trips allowed me to adjust the weight of my gear to be suitable for a longer journey and more specific to my possible needs.
I have been certified in First Aid for several years as well as taking basic wilderness survival courses. Through many years of hiking and camping to predict possible dangers on the exploration and to take appropriate safety precautions. This training also included learning how to prepare an emergency action plan. I also took a Ground Search and Rescue course, which taught me map and compass work, as well as survival techniques. Practical camping experience has been giving me training in meal and menu planning, site selection, equipment use and safety for many years through planning for and going camping on a regular basis.
Also, through I learned to treat the environment in a friendly way as described in the ‘Wilderness Code of Behaviour’. Overall I would say that I was very prepared for my qualifying journey, both mentally and physically.
And then… it began.
The Five W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why
The final journey took place on the days and nights of the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th of May in the year 2003. Four youth participated in the journey. Three were part of the 10th Kelowna Venturer Company and were participants in the award program. The fourth wasn’t an award participant, but was a wonderful asset to our journey and we greatly appreciate his participation. The youth that participated were:
1. Stefan Farrow (Gold Level), Age 17
2. Jason Tucker (Gold Level Pre-trip), Age 15
3. Tyler Peterson (Silver Level), Age 15
4. Joel Herron (Non-participant), Age 13
For safety we also had one adult who camped with us and routinely met up with us along the way. While she was camping in the same area and ate our food, she did not in any way participate in our activities. In the trip log, found later in this report, it is repeatedly mentioned that we met up with her along the trail. She would drive ahead to predetermined checkpoints where we would meet her and confirm that everything was still going according to plan. As will be demonstrated in the journal this was a precaution for which we were extremely grateful. Her name was Anne Tucker, and we are also very grateful for her help and support. Thank YOU ANNE!
For this journey we chose to cycle a portion of the Historic Kettle Valley Railway. We started in Merritt, British Columbia, cycled as far as the Highway 5 toll-booths, returned by vehicle to Brodie, and then continued on to Princeton and beyond. We chose to undertake an exploration, a purpose with a trip. Our journey’s focus was the Kettle Valley Railway and its rich history. Permission for this exploration was requested and received from the Provincial Award Office. We were granted permission to use a ‘moving base camp’. All the overnight gear and base camp food was loaded into the support vehicle and met us at our camp locations. This was authorized by Mark Crofton as it allowed us to focus on the historical research.
We chose the Kettle Valley Railway as our focus because it is a very rich and important part of British Columbia’s history. The railway provided a vital link to many parts of British Columbia for many years. In many areas you can still find the remnants of water towers, station houses, and other facilities. In many other areas however, no trace of the rail line can be found aside from the path that is still in existence. In other areas still, there is nothing but farmers’ fields where the rail bed should have existed. The rail bed provided a fairly easy route to ride on but many natural obstacles created areas that were difficult to pass. I am almost ashamed to that before we started the exploration I only knew a very small amount about the railway and its location. I never realized that it branched so far into the interior of British Columbia or that it drives so close to the coast. I now know these things and much, much more.
Who said this was flat?
Day Start: 11:00
KM 0 – Patchet Road
Starting from Merritt, this is the first uninterrupted access to the rail bed, almost 19.2 KM south of Merritt. From here to Kingsvale Station the rail bed is very rough and strewn with large rock creating a technically difficult first day of riding. Several washouts have occurred here and the largest one is 180 metres long. In 1994 the Coldwater River changed its course washing away a section of the rail bed. The Nicola Valley Explorers Society has rebuilt a single track trail and a 10 metre bridge into the hillside to bypass this washout. We took advantage of this trail through the trees to stop in the shade and enjoy lunch.
The rail bridge at Voght Creek was removed in 2001 when Coldwater Road was realigned.
KM 9.5 – Kingsvale Station
Until this station burned to the ground in the year 2000 it was being used as a private residence. No sign of this station exists today. After Kingsvale the rail bed right of way enters private fields and is blocked by many locked gates. We chose to ride Coldwater Road until we met the Coquihalla Highway.
KM 12.1 – Highway 5 Exit 256
At this point we met up with our safety vehicle for the first time since beginning that morning. It was here that we were also able to rejoin the rail bed. We rested under the overpass for about half an hour, where we were protected from the elements.
The next section of the rail bed was more difficult, and once again littered with many large rocks and boulders. The idea of simply travelling along Coldwater Road, which was located along the rail bed, was extremely tempting, but we were successful in overcoming this temptation and stayed on the rail bed. Before long however the rail bed smoothed out once again and we entered one of the more scenic sections of the railway. Along this section of the railway the rail bed and the Coldwater River repeatedly switch sides of the canyon in order to gain the easiest path up the narrow canyon. Along this section there are a total of seven trestles which have been planked and hand railed sometime in 2001.
KM 21.7 – Brodie Station (BASE CAMP ONE)
Upon reaching the site of Brodie Station, we once again met our safety and support vehicle.
The station at Brodie no longer exists and the original trestle has been removed. All that you can see is the concrete bases on either side of the river. From this point the railway branches. One branch goes southeast to Princeton and the other goes southwest to Hope. We spent a while searching for a campsite that was away from the other tourists, who where mainly noisy quad riders. Eventually we found the perfect location, a small grassy clearing away from the main tourist area and less than 200 meters from the rail bed.
DAY ONE: Summary
Distance Traveled: 21.7 KM
Weather: Sunny with occasional clouds, hot, and no precipitation.
Start Time: 11:00
Finish Time: 17:00
Number of Travel Hours: 6
Total Trip Distance: 21.7 KM
There is ‘Hope’
Day Start: 09:30
KM 21.7 – Brodie Station – Base Camp
This day started on a side road for the first kilometre. This road crosses under the Coquihalla Highway before reconnecting with the original rail bed branch toward Hope. Ominous signs warn that the path ahead is impassable by vehicle, but we trek on having already confirmed with the local trails society that we would be able to get our bicycles through. Along this portion we spotted several deer ahead of us. We attempted to get close enough to take a picture but were not successful.
KM 29.2 – Major Washout
At this point a major washout has destroyed the hillside and you must take an extremely steep bypass trail up the hillside and around the washout. Once again we chose to stop and eat lunch at the apex of this trail, in the cool shade. Another smaller washout follows almost immediately, however, this one was much easier to cross.
The next portion of the journey was easy riding until the rail bed ended in a locked gate in the eight foot high wildlife fence along the Coquihalla Highway. In order to pass you had to detour through the bush, and traverse a small stream before passing through a one way animal gate.
KM 31.1 – Juliet Station
The actual site of Juliet Station now rests underneath the Coquihalla Highway. The only marker at the actual location is a small green sign that reads “Juliet Station” in the centre highway divider.
At this point we met Anne and the support vehicle. It was decided that since Jason had tripped during the stream crossing and ended up completely soaking his feet and most of his legs, he would return to the base camp in the vehicle to retrieve new shoes and they would meet up with the rest of us at the next checkpoint.
In order to regain the rail bed we had to follow the side road one kilometre and then use an overpass to cross the highway. After crossing we used a second side road to back track to the KVR access point. At this point a large sign explains the source of many of KVR station names as well as Andrew McCulloch’s work. The next stretch of rail bed started with an old and extremely rusted metal rail trestle. The KVR for the next leg of the journey has been turned into the Coldwater River Provincial Park Road.
KM 33.5 – Detour
At this point the rail bed once again is destroyed by the highway. Further progress along the proposed official rout was not navigable due to a double crossing of the Coldwater River. We decided that while the first crossing was safely achievable, not knowing what the condition of the second was, we would not risk taking that route.
Instead, we began searching for another one way animal gate to regain access to the highway. However, after ten minutes we gave up the search, as all that we found was a section of fence that appeared to have been recently replaced. We could only assume that the gate we were looking for used to be there. We opted instead to rig a rope pull system and hoisted the bikes over the fence. This was quite an ordeal and took nearly 20 minutes. However it saved us having to back track for 30 minutes, before returning along the highway. From this point we began a four kilometre cycle down the highway to the next access point. Part way along this stretch the weather began to turn for the worse. A light snow began to fall and we pedaled onward. At exit 231 we left the highway and stopped to try and locate the KVR grade.
However, within one minute of stopping the snow turned into a blizzard. We immediately sought refuge in the highway underpass tunnel. All that we could see out both ends of the tunnel was a solid wall of white. We took this as an opportunity to rest and we removed some wet clothing and bundled ourselves up to keep warm. I ventured into the semi-protected area near the entrance to attempt to gain a cell phone signal. I was able to gain a minimal signal and immediately called Anne and explained where we were so that she knew that we were safe and had found shelter. I told her that we would stay where we were until the white out abated. We spent about 20 minutes in the underpass before the snow suddenly stopped. Upon looking out the far end of the overpass we could clearly see the KVR access point. However, we knew that the going was going to be tough because there was 1.5 centimetres of snow on the ground. Along this stretch of rail bed we were fortunate to spot a bald eagle and its nest.
However they were both too far away to take a clear picture.
KM 41.5 – Another Detour
Once again the rail access is blocked and destroyed by the highway. Our route took us on an alternate path south where we then crossed under the twin highway bridges at exit 228. On the other side we were able to access the adjacent KVR Bridge and the rail bed. From here we took an overpass over the highway and entered the Britton Creek Rest area. Here we met up with Anne and Jason in the support vehicle and used the opportunity to use the restrooms.
Then it once again began to snow. We had to make the tough decision to end our day here because it was simply not safe to continue as the next section of KVR was treacherous and has no vehicle access for several hours. Also it was decided that due to the cold, cycling back, was also not safe. It was decided that we would have to use our Emergency Action Plan and we loaded the bicycles onto the vehicle and then we drove back to our base camp at the Brodie Station.
DAY TWO: Summary
Distance Traveled: 19.8 KM
Weather: Hail in morning before departure. Cloudy, cool, heavy snowfall in the afternoon.
Start Time: 09:30
Finish Time: 16:30
Number of Travel Hours: 7
Total Trip Distance: 41.5 KM
There is Gold in dem Hills!
Day Start: 10:00
KM 41.5 – Brodie Station – Base Camp
Today we packed up the camp at Brodie and continued on. Instead of taking the fork towards Hope we took the fork towards Princeton. The first two kilometres of rail bed contained two washouts which, were easily navigated around. We continued to Brookmere, which was only a mere 6.4 Kilometres away.
KM 47.9 – Brookmere Station
All that remains of Brookmere Station is the old water tower and one CPR caboose. The small village of Brookmere contains only a small number of houses and uses the KVR right ofway as their main street. This was the day’s first checkpoint with Anne.
KM 57.1 – Thalia Station
This station, formerly named Canyon Station, no longer exists. However, several hundred
metres further down the rail bed a frame and pile trestle has burned to the ground. The trestle is believed to have been set ablaze by the work of arsonists. This trestle is easily bypassed by using a service road that runs alongside the KVR. This does however require an extremely steep decent down (nearly 30 degrees) from the raised trail bed followed by an equally steep climb on the other side.
KM 73.2 – Manning Station
The only evidence that this station ever existed is the widened right of way and some scattered concrete pieces. The rail bed before and after Manning Station crosses Otter Creek numerous times. This stretch is extremely straight. So straight that it gives the definite illusion of going nowhere. We had an extremely interesting weather system passing over head along this stretch. Before starting we were forced to take cover from the rain and hail. After that had passed we were forced to keep up a good pace due to the fact that ahead, it was raining, and behind, it was snowing. We were stuck in the middle and did not want to be in either.
KM 84.0 – Tulameen Station
This station has a rich history. Originally the station was called Campement des Femmes, meaning Camp of the Women. Salish Indians used this flat expanse as a base camp and often left their women and children here while they went on the hunt. Later the flats became known as Otter Flats. This was originally due to its use by the white man during the Gold Rush.
Eventually, it was renamed Tulameen. Once again we met up with Anne. The original station house was built in 1914 and now serves as a private residence. Also an old red freight shed has been moved a short distance from the rail bed and is being used as storage shed.
Also found in Tulameen is an archway across the rail way access that reads ‘Tulameen Gateway’.
KM 90.5 – Coalmont Station
After a long and difficult day we finally arrived in Coalmont, our destination for the day. Coalmont is a very small community which still boasts many original buildings such as the Saloon and Hotel. About a ten minute ride from the rail bed we found Granite Creek Forestry Campsite. We spent the night here and met a high school outdoors education teacher who was travelling the KVR in the opposite direction. We swapped notes with each other on the conditions of the trail. He warned us that the next portion of the rail bed was covered in loose shale and should be carefully negotiated.
DAY THREE: Summary
Distance Traveled: 49 KM
Weather: Partly cloudy, cool to cold, bursts of showers near 13:00. Snow spotted in the distance behind us.
Start Time: 10:00
Finish Time: 18:30
Number of Travel Hours: 8.5
Total Trip Distance: 90.5 KM
Are we there yet?
Start Time: 10:00
KM 90.5 – Coalmont Station & Granite City
Located just outside the Granite Creek Forestry campsite is the site of Granite City. This name comes from Granite Creek which joins the Tulameen River in this area. In 1885 gold was discovered in the streams and the population soon grew to about 2000 people. In 1886 Granite City was considered to be the largest city in the interior of British Columbia. Four years later the gold boom had ended and the town became deserted. Gold panning in Granite City was difficult because of a white metal of similar weight to gold. It was difficult to separate from real gold. Many years later it was discovered that this faux gold was actually platinum, with a value well exceeding that of gold. All that currently exists of Granite City are a few remains of log buildings in the campsite and one log cabin just outside the campsite.
This cabin is being restored to its original condition. A short distance away a small cairn holds a plaque that marks the location of Granite City.
KM 90.7 – Coalmont-Tulameen Road
We returned through town and once again regained access to the KVR rail bed.
KM 100.8 – Parr Tunnel
This tunnel is 147 metres long, and due to the curvature of the tunnel neither end is visible when in the middle of the tunnel. Shortly past the tunnel we came to a trail pavilion which has been built. We chose this pavilion with its wonderful view of the Tulameen River to stop and have lunch. This section of the railroad is named after the engineer who constructed the Parr Tunnel. Originally, two bridges took 1.5 kilometres along the south side of the Tulameen River. However, on January 25, 1935, an ice jam washed out one of the bridges. Repairs were not completed until February of 1935. These bridges however continued to cause problems with respect to their maintenance. This resulted in the construction of the tunnel in 1948 and 1949 which allowed 1.3 Kilometres to be relocated to the north side of the Tulameen River. You can still see the original rail bed on the far side of the river. According to trustworthy sources the original ties still lie there rotting into history.
KM 108.0 – Another Tunnel
This tunnel, located just before the city of Princeton, is 324 metres long and as straight as an arrow. Travelling through the tunnel provides the illusion that the tunnel is actually getting longer the farther you enter. While this is obviously not true it is a very overpowering feeling.
This tunnel takes the rail bed under Highway 3 just after you cross the Tulameen River on a 96 metre metal frame rail bridge.
KM 109.4 – Princeton Station
Entering Princeton you must pass through an industrial area of town. In order to discourage motor vehicles from using the rail bed concrete blocks, some as much as 5 feet tall, have been placed randomly along several hundred metres of rail bed. After the straight forward ride along the clear rail bed this was a welcome relief as we realised that we must once again ‘steer’. After passing under a gateway similar to the one in Tulameen reading “Princeton Gateway” we found Anne waiting for us. We took about 40 minutes here to rest before continuing on.
Originally Princeton was known as Vermillion Forks. Vermillion refers to the mercuric sulphide compound that produces a brilliant red pigment. In 1860, Vermillion Forks was renamed after the Prince of Wales. Hence the name Princeton. The original station can still be found. However, it has been sided with vinyl and now is home to a real estate office and to a Subway restaurant.
The next portion of our journey was long and arduous. We were tired and sore from the last four days of riding and we knew that the end was only a short ways away. To make matters worse much of this section of rail bed was covered with shale and larger sections of loose rock making the going very tough. We found ourselves stopping to rest for five minutes after each 10 or 12 minutes of riding. Progress was very slow.
KM 117.9 – Belfort Station
This station was named after the famous French garrison in the Jura Mountains that resisted the German invasion of 1870. However, once again the evidence that it ever existed is only in a widening of the right of way. This was the last time that we scheduled to meet up with Anne before the final destination of our trip.
The next portion of the rail bed consisted of a series of three large loop backs that cover many kilometres. The hardest part about these loops was that they were at a considerable incline.
KM 124.7 – Highway 40
As we were getting ready to cross Highway 40 I received a cell phone call from Anne. She told us the road access to our destination, Jura Station, was completely blocked and destroyed. After consulting our maps and guides it was decided that we would have to call an end to our trip here as the next road access after Jura Station was nearly 10 Kilometres and we did not feel that we would be capable of the extra uphill distance. Therefore, Anne returned to our location on Highway 40 and we completed our journey.
DAY FOUR: Summary
Distance Traveled: 34.2 KM
Weather: Partly clear, sunny, warm, no precipitation.
Start Time: 10:00
Finish Time: 16:30
Number of Travel Hours: 6.5
Total Trip Distance: 124.7 KM
An experience to never forget
Total Distance Travelled: 124.7 Kilometres
Number of Days: 4
Number of Nights: 3
Number of hours Travelling: 28
General Weather: Cloudy with sun. Snow, rain, and hail on days 2 and 3. Cold to warm.
Overall Experience: !OUT OF THIS WORLD!
While the trip was a success there are several points that must be mentioned so that any one in the future may have an even better trip. While nothing major occurred there were a few incidents that could have been improved upon. They are as follows.
While forecasts were gathered there was no way to properly predict the weather at such a high altitude. As such we should have been slightly more prepared with a proper action plan for snow and hail. Instead we found ourselves creating plans and making decisions as the snow began to fall. While this was not detrimental to our health because we had the foresight to use a chase vehicle, it was an issue that caused us to be unable to complete the journey on the second day. However, it must also be mentioned that considering the gravity of the situation the right decisions were made without a plan in a timely matter. It takes a lot of will power to abandon the plan that you want to follow and admit that it will have to be done another time.
Personal Preparedness and Clothing
Overall everyone was prepared to a basic level both physically and mentally. However, while Jason, Tyler, and I had each participated in other long range cycle trips, Joel had never. While no major issues became apparent there were several points that should also be noted. While all attempts were made to ensure that Joel knew what the trip was going to be like in advance it was not possible for him to fully comprehend the scope and challenge of the trip without having done a proper cycle expedition before. We assumed that the many days of mountain biking meant that he was fully aware of what the exploration would be like. Also it should be noted that his lack of experience in simple matters like cooking and setting up and breaking camp meant that the rest had to work a little harder. However, Joel is definitely a better person as a result of the experience and is better prepared for any future expeditions.
He learnt the skills in the best possible way; learning by doing.
Secondly a note should be made that more than one person was not prepared from a clothing standpoint. On more than one occasion clothing had to be borrowed for sleeping, and for weather dependent times such as the rain and snow. Once again this did not have any effect on the trip or any participants, but had the potential to become a problem if the owner later needed the same clothing. The only way that I see to avoid this in the future is to have an extremely specific list of personal gear as opposed to assuming that we are all seasoned campers and know what to pack.
While the basic route plan was very well detailed through the use of guidebooks and maps we still encountered problems. Due to the time elapsed since the publication many roads or portions of the KVR that we planned to use were no longer accessible and alternate plans had to be made on the fly. Once again, this was not a critical point. However, it should be kept in mind that much of the KVR is on private property and is subject to change in access at the whim of the land owner. Our trip was cut short due to such changes in road access.
The only other situation that has not already been mentioned occurred on the third day.
Approximately 1.5 hours before we arrived in Tulameen (2.5 hours from days end) Joel started to become cold. Upon consultation with him I determined that is was due to the temperature and the fact that he had not eaten anything since shortly after lunch. While he had been hungry for some time he did not ask for food from any of our stores. Upon giving him some food and some chemical hand warmers to help re-warm him he immediately started to improve. Within minutes he was ready to go. Later I discovered that he did not know that I always carry enough food and rations to keep all participants alive in any situation for at least 24 hours. This was a case of miscommunication. It must be noted that in the future all participants must be told to never be afraid to ask for help and all must know the exact emergency measures taken. This never turned into a true emergency situation; however, if he had not appeared visibly cold it could have further developed into a case of hypothermia.
Where is the Hot Chocolate?!
Yes, we did forget the Hot Chocolate. However, being thrifty Venturers we soon discovered that hot fruit juices work just as well. This next section will describe our route plan (including maps and diagrams), the equipment that we took, the menu, and the safety equipment available.
We started out with a small list of things that we needed to make the exploration a success. However, it soon grew until it was quite large. Here is a list of the equipment that went with us.
.. 2- tents
.. 1- two burner camp stove
.. 3- tarps
.. 1- folding table
.. 2- lamps
.. 1- propane tree (for lamp and stove)
.. 1- large propane tank
.. 4- small propane tanks
.. 1- cooler chest
.. 1- large first aid kit
.. 1- set of basic cooking utensils
.. 1- small set pots and pan
.. 1- bucket of twine
.. 1- bag of assorted ropes
.. 3- small wash tubs
.. 3- water containers (filled)
.. 1- axe
.. 1- hatchet
.. 1- container with matches, and other fire lighting equipment
.. 1- set of cleaning solutions (dish soap and hand soap)
.. sleeping bag
.. sleeping mat
.. camp pillow
.. pairs of pants
.. pairs of soccer shorts
.. 8- t-shirts
.. 8- underwear
.. 12- socks (wool, cotton, and nylon)
.. pairs of cotton gloves
.. pair of cycling gloves
.. pair running shoes
.. pair hiking boats
.. phones (cell and satellite)
.. spare inner-tube
.. tool kit
.. tire pump
.. rain gear (top and bottom)
.. FRS radios
.. 700ml water bottles
.. digital camera
.. guide books
.. topographical maps
.. survival kit (please section that follows for details)
.. Global Positioning System Until
.. nylon belts
.. pairs sunglasses
.. axle/chain grease
.. 10- extra batteries
.. pair of extra laces
.. warm jackets
.. fleece hoodies
.. wool blanket
.. bottle of waterless hand wash solution
.. multi-purpose tool (fancy pocket knife)
.. bottle SPF 45 sunscreen
.. dishes (plate, bowl, cup)
.. lightweight carabineers
.. 25 metre buoyant rope
.. 1- high absorbent camp t
.. magnesium block an
.. space blanket
.. flare launcher (10 flares)
.. pocket knives
.. folding saw
.. emergency fi
.. glow sticks
.. flashing red
.. 10- hot hands (hand warmers)
.. Rations (energy bars, GORP)
.. mini sewing kit
.. cheap lighters
weighed approximately 20 Kilograms. All safety equipment was listed in the above lists and can easily be identified. It should be noted that with the exception of a few blisters and one small cut no emergency equipment was required. We still used the phone to communicate our position to Anne, but never in a true emergency fashion.
.. bun wiches (cream cheese or cold cuts)
.. juice boxes
.. apples and oranges
.. dehydrated soup (3 bean Chile soup)
.. veggies & dip
.. oranges and apples
.. cream cheese
.. cold cuts
.. apples and oranges
.. juice boxes
.. milk or juice
.. egg McMuffins (english muffins, eggs, cheese, and beef cold cuts)
.. bun wiches (cream cheese or cold cuts)
.. juice Boxes
.. apples and Oranges
.. baked beans with ham
.. mixed salad
.. pancakes and sausage
.. apples and oranges
.. cream cheese
.. cold cuts
.. juice boxes
Staples (always available)
.. granola bars
.. juice boxes
.. juice crystals
Breakfast and dinner were always hot meals and the lunches were prepared in the morning so that we could take them with us on the trail. After we left the camp each morning we were totally self contained until we arrived at camp again that evening.
The next several pages contain maps which clearly show our route and all major points of interest. Please refer to the kilometre markings which correspond to the exploration log.
Camp Day 1 and 2
KM 21.7 Base
Camp Day 1 and 2
KM 41.5 DAY END
Days Three and Four
Day 1 and 2
Base Camp Day 3
Let us not forget
This history of the Kettle Valley Railway is too vast to include in any one book. However, I will attempt to summarise the most important portions in this report. The KVR’s history is a rich story with many twists and turns, both financially and physically.
The railway was conceived in the late 1880s as a route to allow the mines of the Kootenay District of Southern British Columbia access to the coast and Vancouver. The railway became a struggle of personalities, politics, finance and geography. More than six governments rose and fell over the issues surrounding the building of this railway. More than 100 workers died in the construction and operations of the railway. However, as remarkable as it is, no passenger ever died on the KVR.
The railway was nicknamed, McCulloch’s Wonder, after the railway’s chief engineer, Andrew McCulloch. He built this astonishing railway crosses three mountain ranges and some of the most rugged canyons on this planet. Many people have called the KVR the most difficult and expensive railway ever built.
The railway starts in the once small town of Hope, 90 miles east of Vancouver. The railway chose to take the most daring and treacherous path, one that no previous group had taken.
While all other roads and rail lines had chosen to travel north, around the mountain ranges, before continuing east, the KVR chose to go straight through the heart of the mountains.
While construction started in 1910, it was only 20% complete in 1912 due to the lack of workers, rail ties and other equipment.
Part of the reason for the slow progress was the extremely difficult terrain that the railway was forced to cross. In the mountains above Kelowna, in what is now called Myra Canyon,
McCulloch encountered an obstacle even he was taken aback by. “Never saw a railway built on any such hillside as this! Cannot even guess the cost now.” he wrote in his diary. This task was so great that in a stretch of only 5.5 miles they were forced to build 18 wooden trestles and two tunnels as well as numerous retaining walls.
Many legal battles ensued between the KVR and other rail companies for the right of way through the Coquihalla pass as all were attempting to build similar railroads. After a long period of brutal construction in the Coquihalla pass the last spike was finally driven in on July 31, 1916. At last the line was complete and officially declared open. The railway had cost a grievous amount of money to build and through the entire life of the KVR the debts racked up were never repaid.
Throughout the history of the operation of the KVR many things changed. New stations were
created, and old ones decommissioned. New services were created and disappeared before the public even knew about them. However, while they never paid off their debts, the rail line was extremely successful. The last passenger train ran in January 1964 and the final freight train arrived in Spences Bridge on May 12, 1989. Just over a year later, on June 21, 1990, the National Transportation Agency authorized Canadian Pacific to abandon the railway, and during 1991 all track, with the exception of seven miles of track near Summerland saved for a tourist railway operation, was removed. The Kettle Valley Railway became a part of history.
Andrew McCulloch won the appreciation of the KVR’s passengers through his use of Shakespearean names for his stations. These names, such as Romeo, Juliet, Othello, and Lear, created a sense of familiarity with the passengers on the trains and allowed to them to feel at home even when they were travelling through the most treacherous railway in the world.
It is unfortunate to note that many relics of the railway are disappearing faster than the company itself. Only a few years ago you could still find many rail houses and other buildings at many locations along the original path. Now only the few structures that have been designated heritage buildings can be found. This is a true tragedy. As we found during our exploration many bridges and stations have been burned to the ground, both in accidents and by arsonists. Other buildings we were told still exist but have been moved many miles to be conglomerated with other heritage buildings. In many places the only evidence that something had once existed was the widening of the right of way or a sign stating the location of a building.
A second note is that the KVR recently suffered a most grievous loss. During the second firestorm of the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire, August 2003, 12 of the wooden trestles above Kelowna were completely destroyed. All that can be found of them are some concrete anchor pilings. Two steel trestles were also badly damaged. These trestles have long been an important part of the heritage of Kelowna and the KVR as you could see so many in just five miles. They are gone now and we will never be able to truly see their wonder again.
(Webmaster note: New Trestles have been built and were completed in 2008.)