Makin' Trails

This week's Secret Okanagan Spot is Kelowna Lookout located at the south end of Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park. It’s a trek on foot or bike from the Stewart Road West main trailhead via Pink Highway and Lookout Trail, but the reward is a bench to eat lunch and panoramic views of the South Slopes and Okanagan Lake beyond.

With the end of downhill skiing on Easter Monday and cross-country skiing conditions going downhill, it’s full tilt on enjoying spring.

The Easter weekend marked the end of regular daily grooming at Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club, said president Ryland Garton this week.

“From here on, grooming will be only from the Summit end and likely on alternate days. Some trails around the main cabin have succumbed to flooding in spots. This may provide the dual sport of water and snow skiing in the one go. Do not expect grooming at that end anymore.”

For those who want to avoid the chronic McCulloch Road potholes of spring, you can go to the Kallis car park just past Big White Road. Thunder Mountain Trail can be groomed for a while yet, said Garton, “but you may have to walk up to the first corner soon.”

At the Summit car park, “Diamond Daves is hanging in there. JDS may be eroded by water before long. All trails are a fast ski. We will only put in one classic track if a member emails 24h ahead. Otherwise all grooming will be skate only. Keep watching the website where the ski tracker should still be active. Members may ski anywhere with their dogs. Keep them under control on hills please.

“As trails get dropped, they will be marked on the website as closed but they may be still passable. Snowshoeing is still OK in places and the surface is hard enough for boots only, unless you are late in the day.”

Meanwhile, the Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen decided to do more local e-biking, rougher trails in the still-forested area of the Glenmore Highlands south of the Wilden neighbourhood in Kelowna and the myriad of trails in the Kathleen Lake area of Knox Mountain Park. None are marked and only the Kathleen Lake Trail is signed by the city.

A note of caution with a quote on meeting four hard-core cyclist buddies from the Central Okanagan Outdoors Club. “If you guys are here, I must be on the wrong trail.”

On Thursday, we returned to the Okanagan Rail Trail from Kekuli Bay to Coldstream. Then, thanks to Kent who used to live in Vernon, we discovered the wetland boardwalk in Polson Park and Longacre Trail on the way to Paddlewheel Park for lunch. Our return included checking out Kin Beach on the eastern arm of Okanagan Lake. Great route.

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Putting all the pieces together on the KVR.

There was a series of announcements in February-March but it was challenging to put all the information together.

So here it is.

On Feb. 23, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) received $450,000 in provincial funding for infrastructure improvements on the 200-kilometre section between Midway and Little Tunnel (Naramata), and further implementation of its 2019 KVR Trail Master Plan.

The details: a signage plan, improve trailhead signage, add kiosks in areas of interest, benches, picnic tables and trail surface improvements in areas prone to flooding or other hazards. Signs could start going in this summer and fall, but anything requiring a concrete pad will likely have to wait until next spring.

On March 19-25, Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) and Recreation Sites and Trails BC did rock scaling above Naramata between the Smethurst and Glenfir parking lots. A new outhouse was installed near Little Tunnel, plus another toilet was on the way for the Arawana Road parking lot. RDOS operates and maintains 230 km of provincially-owned rail trail.

On March 25, the province and RDOS announced $450,000 through the Forest Employment Program (FEP) for bridge decking repairs in Faulder (west of Summerland) and Tulameen; installation of wayfinding and information signs; repairs to the canyon section through Faulder that was damaged by landslides and erosion; enhanced trail maintenance; brushing, invasive plant removal, danger tree assessment and removal; and drainage and surface improvements from Little Tunnel to Myra Canyon.

In a separate March 25 news release, FEP’s $12-million expansion through StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan will do repairs to Trout Creek Bridge, and bridge maintenance and repair (no details) in the Okanagan Shuswap Natural Resource District from Salmon Arm to Keremeos.

The Sheriff discovered that in the fall of 2017, TOTA was awarded $500,000 through the provincial Rural Dividend Grant program “to implement core development projects for the ongoing success of the rail trail networks.” And not all that money was spent.

In an email, Ellen Walker-Matthews, senior VP, acting president and CEO, said: “We will be adding those funds to our current grant and working closely with Rec Sites and Trails as well as the RDOS on the implementation of the KVR Masterplan that we released in 2020.

“We hope to see many improvements going forward and will be updating regularly as this begins to roll out. Priorities include improvements to trail surface as required, signage and trail amenities including benches/picnic tables and possibly washrooms. All of the upgrades will be in keeping with accessibility standards and requirements. Mike Overend will forward updates as things commence.”

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The Sheriff has received feedback on the recent noxious weeds column. More next week.

J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired journalist.

Email: jp.squire@telus.net