Ride the Rail Trail Like a Local

By Saffron Quist

Ahhhh the Rail Trail. This is one of my favourite things in the Okanagan! I own a bike … but don’t be fooled by this mediocre figure, you don’t need to be a pro athlete to enjoy it.

The Rail Trail - a multi-use trail system that connects Kelowna and Vernon along what was once a CN railway line - is mostly flat with gradual elevation changes along the way. There are places to rent bikes and gear in Vernon, Oyama and Winfield. So, this has been made easy for you ;)

We usually do the RT as a trio: My dad Ken, my kiddo Solla and me. We pack water and snacks, then stop for lunch before heading home.

Riding with a toddler, my biggest trick to getting her engaged longer is having two different seats. Yup… two. We pull a trailer, which is so handy for the 10-million things a tiny human seems to need, plus I have a handle-bar seat for her that clips on and off with the push of a button.

Here are my two favourite rides. If you’re ambitious (more fit than me), you could put them together and do one big pedal.

Kekuli to Oyama

9.5 km one way

Park at Kekuli Bay Provincial Park and head south along Kal Lake. Along the way you ride past beautiful homes, campgrounds and roll under an old trestle. The scenery is fabulous! 9.5 km later you find yourself in Oyama.

We like to stop for lunch at OKF Grill because it’s quick and right on the trail, but Pane Vino Pizzeria is some kind of awesome-ness if you’re in the mood for Italian.

There are also several things to do while you’re in Oyama: Fresh produce at Gatzke’s, beach time, or check out Prairie Folk Farmery!

Wood Lake Loop

17 km

Park in Oyama at the north end of the lake and head down Palmewash Parkway. We like to go counter-clockwise (north-to-south) because Palmewash is paved with less shade (it’s hotter over there), so we do it first. At the tail end of the paved bike lane, you’ll find yourself behind a strip mall in Winfield. It feels awkward, but all you need to do is cross the highway at the lights (the only lights nearby) and follow Woodsdale Road.

We like to stop at Turtle Bay Pub. They have an awesome patio on the maria -or- an area inside for those under 19 with a huge fish tank, colouring, and highchairs. The food and cocktails are always great. If you’re in the mood for sushi or Greek, there are also some awesome eats close by.

Following Woodsdale Road will loop you around the South end of the lake to the Rail Trail. At the head of the lake is a beautiful beach and playground at Beasley Park. This is an awesome spot if you’ve packed a picnic, need a cool off or just want to take a break.

Swing a left onto the Rail Trail and you’re pointed back to Oyama. On this side (the east side) of the lake it’s gravel and there is a lot of shade. You’ll pass a waterfall and orchards as you make your way back to your parking spot.

I’d love to know your favourite spots along the rail trail! Comment below!

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