Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hiking Kelowna to Vernon on the Rails to Trails

We just finished a 50 km. hike from the Okanagan Lake in Kelowna to Vernon on a most exciting route... on the old CN Railroad bed. It was an awesome experience!

Rattlesnake Point from the trail with red Sumac leaves.

A balancing rock.

We actually have hiked it twice, since every day when we walked out for about an hour we then had to walk back to get to our truck.

So we have seen the entire trail going both ways... and the scenery is different.

Both Shirley and I have taken thousands of photos along the way.

The finish between Kekuli Park and Vernon was most spectacular. We encountered more people on Sunday... both on the trail and on the lake enjoying the day.

We saw probably 15 different groups of cyclists on Sunday between Kekuli Bay and Rattlesnake Point.

Kekuli Bay has a great RV park which you can see from Highway 97...

They also have a boat launch... and likely more than 60 parking stalls for vehicles with boat trailers.

Lots of waterfront property owners have wharfs with boats...

Not all the old milage signs are still in place... but we often took a photo of each one we saw.

Since it was about two hours walk between Kekuli Bay and Kickwillie Loop Road, we hiked for an hour to the end of these high bluffs near Rattlesnake Point one day...

and the next day we came from Kickwillie Loop Road back to the same point.

Hiking this trail taught us some new points of interest along the way... like Rattlesnake Point.  We never knew about this landmark before. I took this photo from the bluffs above the rail trail.

Frequently we came upon birds and wildlife.

Crystal Springs marina.

More than once we found chairs along the way for hikers to take a break.

Bridge over the old railway to Owls Nest Resort area.

Private and public resorts are plentiful along the west side of Kalamalka Lake north of Oyama.

One day soon all these stacks of railroad ties will disappear.

The minerals in Kalamalka Lake apparently react to the sun making the water colour green/blue.

Several times we saw bee hives.

Oyama looking south.

Bridge over canal between Woods Lake and Kalamalka Lake.

Oyama Beach on Woods Lake.

Kaloya Park is just one of 23 parks within 500 m. of the trail.

Kolaya Park is a rare gem, a place that we will most certainly come back to visit again.

A great lagoon shelters some wonderful lily pads.

In the summer and fall with so many orchards, bears can be a problem.

Along the Woods Lake path we came upon at least a dozen deposits left by bears... but we never encountered any of the furry friends.

Close to Oyama along Woods Lake we could see very tidy stacks of nice railroad ties banded and ready for shipping out of here.

 Not all the ties are good enough to be recycled and reused... but the sound timbers can make a quick retaining wall.

I often get a terrible reaction to Poison Ivy... and there were several places where these beautiful plants begged for attention.

But I kept clear of any contact... and used my telephoto lens to get in close. It is such a pretty plant.

The highlight of the Woods Lake section is this roaring waterfall. What must this be like in the spring runoff? We could hear the water well before we saw it.

Even on an overcast day the reflections on the still water were almost perfect.

I couldn't google up a match to find the name of this shrub loaded with deep blue berries. Any idea?

The Common Snowberry was most plentiful along the trail.

There were several wharfs along the shore... and many orchards across the trail to the high side.

Looking back to the south shore of Woods Lake and the Turtle Bay Marina far left.

There are a couple of really great waterfront parks within 500 m. of the rails to trail...

And Beasley Park side by side. Both with nice beaches.

Walking thru this part of Lake Country between the lakes we saw several farms...

...and some interesting houses.

There were a lot of elderberries. They say they make good pies, jelly, syrup and wine.

Heading south from Beaver Lake Road there was a nice quiet section... no traffic nearby.

Some Canada Geese were enjoying the morning sun.

It looks like they have a little golf course or practice area here at Holiday Park Resort.

Much of the rail trail has views of Duck Lake (Ellison Lake) thru the trees.

But there are openings where one can get a clear view of the lake... and what an awesome calm day we had to get these mirror reflections.

At the south end of the lake is a water ski ramp... and while I was shooting this photo, a Kon Kast delivery truck was buzzing down the highway, likely heading to our development in Lake Country to bring us precast man holes and catch basins.

This quail entertained us for about 30 photos...

And then a few minutes later a chipmunk stole the show!

I could not believe how far this little rascal walked the top wire before falling off! He was fun to watch.

Some things one doesn't see until you look closely at your photos... like two bullet slugs in the 108 mile sign.

All summer I have been watching the sun cast shadows on the eastern hills... and then as the sun climbs higher, the shadows disappear.

We started this section of the hike from Commonwealth Road... and when we got about this close to this farm, we knew that tomorrow we could come back to this spot from Old Vernon Road.

It was fun to sneak up on this red roof barn.

There were at least a hundred pigeons who keep flying around and landing on the roof... and then for some reason they fly up and circle around a while before coming back to the roof again.

On one side of the rail trail was a huge field of echinacea (cone flowers.)

They were past their prime, but just a few days later when driving by there were a dozen workers harvesting them.

These black birds played with us for a bit... flying up and then lighting down 50 feet ahead, and when we got to close they would fly up and go another 50 feet.

Time to get baling this hay pretty soon.

Superior Propane is close to the Old Vernon Road, where we parked... and will park here the next day as we walk to the Kelowna Airport.

It was most interesting to walk the trail thru the airport and see all the activity... like this Westjet in a hanger for service work.

We saw several planes land during our walk.

The recent renovation of the Kelowna terminal is impresive for a small city.

For the next section of the trail south of the airport we parked on Lougheed and walked back to the terminal. I was amazed at the fine graffiti on so many of the industrial buildings.

There was also an abundance of graffiti under highway 97 overpass.

There were recent improvements around the overpass to connect the trail to the university.

There were several fairways of Shadow Ridge Golf Course that border the trail.

There was considerable marshland between the airport and the overpass.

Lots of cat tails and a shed in need of a new roof.

Got a lucky shot of a bee doing what bees do best.

We were surprised to come upon this fair sized pond south of the overpass.

Then we parked at Scandia and walked back to Lougheed.

We enjoyed seeing this young couple sitting on the side of the trail throwing stones into the creek.

In addition to piles of railroad ties, there are stacks of steel rails off to the side.

A siding once went off the main trail, crossing a creek.

The bridge was yet one more opportunity for the graffiti artists to display their talent.

Several trucking companies have their operation adjacent to the old railway tracks.

Some thoughtful person brought an old office chair to the trail, knowing others may need to stop for a rest.

This flower brighten our day.. looks like it's from the Potentilla family.

We got a chuckle for this sign, especially since I frequently wear a cowboy hat.

Heading south from Scandia Golf and Games (Fenwick Road) we happened upon a field of Canadian Geese having breakfast.

Lots of familiar businesses have Highway 97 exposure with only the old railway between.

The trail then turns away from the highway and heads closer to Dillworth Mountain.

Good message written on the rail... "Tell her you love her."

Graffiti on this flood control abutment.

and countless power poles have been beautified. Pretty cool, eh?

The trail intersects with Dillworth Mountain Estates...

At Dilworth Drive to Lake Okanagan there is a nice paved bicycle/walking trail beside the old railway.

Much of the trail even has solar lighting!  Pretty awesome!

Several months ago we started at the Waterfront Park in front of the Grand Hotel on Water Street and walked to Dilworth Road.

That is when I first learned about this great initiative to make convert the old rails into trails... and the fundraising goal to get this trail completed. What a great project!

So Shirley and I have gone from one end of the trail to the other, little by little... and we so look forward to seeing this completed. We'd love to do it again. What a tremendous project and benefit to this community.

To see a map of this trail click on this link.

There is also a new video just released Oct 1, 2016 on this Rials to Trails project that is just excellent! click on this link for the video.


  1. that's a lot of pictures! i feel like i've walked the whole trail.. time for a nap. looks like a great place to run a marathon.

    1. Once they get the old road bed resurfaced, they will no doubt use it for a marathon. It is a totally awesome track... you will love it!