Makin' Trails

The former Kettle Valley Railway right-of-way has many spectacular viewpoints in the Okanagan Valley. One of them is at the Little Tunnel on the KVR Trail from Penticton northeast to Chute Lake. The Little Tunnel is on the left looking south toward Penticton.

Readers comment on local trails

The series on the best Okanagan trails takes a break this week to catch up on the multitude of outdoor recreation outings by the Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen, plus reader feedback.

As a result of preparing the trail series this spring, the Sheriff and CCC made an effort to explore new trails as well as to refamiliarize ourselves with long-time favourites, especially in the South Okanagan.

Among dozens of solo and close-friend outings — thanks to COVID-19 — we checked out the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) Trail in three different directions from Penticton and west of Summerland.

We’ve been on different sections of the Okanagan Rail Trail too many times to count, the Grand Kelowna Triangle, Wood Lake Loop, Skaha Lake Loop, Quail Ridge Linear Park, Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park lower trails, Brandt’s Creek Linear Park, Pretty Ponds and Paths route, Summerland waterfront trails, and spent four days cycling around and kayaking on three connected lakes near Needles.

We want to cycle our favourite trail, the Myra Canyon/Trans Canada Trail/Great Trail, but BC Parks closed it likely due to the inability to maintain social distancing on its 18 trestles ó and didn’t tell Friends of the South Slopes (the Sheriff let FOSS know).

Almost all of those have been part of the trail series or will be.

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There has been significant reader feedback on the best trails series. Here are several:

The feature on Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park included the commonly held belief that Kalamalka Lake (aka Kal Lake) is named after the Okanagan First Nation chief who once lived on its northern shore.

The Latchfords asked: “Named after a Polynesia Prince visiting the area many years ago?? We are told ???”

From Gordon Seiter: “Enjoyed the article about the park, but you failed to mention one important animal. In background, I was a Junior Orienteerer in the BC Summer Games hosted by Vernon in 1982. The various courses were set up in the park. Just as we were getting ready to start the first day, locals passed out little blue cards explaining to out-of-town competitors what to do if bitten by a Pacific rattlesnake.

“I still have the blue card kicking around in a box somewhere. Talk about playing head games with teenage athletes.

“I was from Prince George, Zone 8 in those days where the scariest thing you might run across while orienteering was a bear. Poisonous snakes was an entirely new idea. It didn’t help when I asked the local Okanagan competitors about the snakes only to be told ‘scientists’ had ‘tagged’ hundreds of them just recently.

“I took my place at the starting line sure there was something slithering behind every rock in the park.

“I learned a very important lesson in Vernon: fear is inspirational. I came away from the games with a gold medal in both my events.”

The feature on Rose Valley Regional Park prompted the following advice from Brian Sutch of Vernon.

“You might want to advise readers that a very pleasant hike can be accessed from the north end of the park going in off Rose Valley Road and hiking south along the trail on the east side of the reservoir.

“Then, head up to the col on the left where the trail turns left opposite the peninsula of land that sticks out into the reservoir about two-thirds of the way along. There is a notice board with map on the col (the lowest point of a ridge or saddle between two peaks).

“I would recommend that hikers head straight up to the summit up the trail from the col instead of using this trail for the return as it is a bit steep with loose gravel on it in a couple of spots.

“It is much easier going up those patches than risking slipping on the loose gravel going downhill. Return from the top by continuing over the top until the trail swings left and comes back to the col. This is the route the Vernon Outdoors Club usually takes.”

From Michelle M.:

“I am baffled by something and wonder if you may know the answer or know someone who may know the answer.

“I live on the Westside and often explore the trails all over Carrot (Mountain) Bluffs (near Shannon Lake). Last year, we noticed that someone had pulled up all the summer salsify just above the Flume Trail and left them on the ground. Now I know some people like to pick wildflowers, and I know that you can eat the roots of salsify, but these were whole plants, just purposefully destroyed.

“I checked online and with horse owners in case they are poisonous to horses, but apparently they are not. So why would anyone do this? One person suggested that maybe people don’t like the big seed heads, but I just don’t get it.

“I was biking on the Flume Trail a few days ago and I saw the same thing again along a whole stretch of the trail.

“They are beautiful flowers and it makes me mad!

“Any input appreciated! I am wondering whether to go and put up signs requesting trail users not to destroy flowers, but that’s not exactly ideal.”

J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: jp.squire@telus.net