Timing is everything, especially in outdoor recreation (and outdoor recreation columns).
After writing about Myra Canyon and Knox Mountain Park East during the past two weeks, there is news about both. So this week's Secret Okanagan Spots will focus one more time on Knox Mountain East.
For those who didn't read previous columns,in the Secret Okanagan Spots or SOS series, they are available here.
First, Myra Canyon. BC Parks is re-decking the trestles, according to Joe Vos, operations manager of the family business, Myra Canyon Bicycle Rental and Tours.
"Starting on Sept. 11, BC Parks will widen the boards on the trestles creating more covered space between the railings. The first is trestle No. 1 near Ruth Station (on the very west side of the canyon). Due to the construction work, the trestle they are working on will be closed weekdays," Vos said last week.
"This will shorten your bicycle ride by a few kilometres riding from our rental setup at Myra Station (on the east side) toward Ruth Station. We are offering a reduced rental rate and period for the days on which BC Parks is working on the trestle.
However, most trestles are located near our rental setup allowing you to ride most of the trail and enjoying most of the trestles as well as both tunnels. You can get more information about rental rates and conditions here.
One of Myra Canyon's two SOS locations is the rocky ledges, perfect for a break or lunch, on the west side of and immediately adjacent to trestle No. 1.
Vos said he's been "pretty busy" this year, especially with the dry weather in June. On a long weekend, 90% to 95% of his 150 standard bicycles are rented out.
"Last year was the busiest because you had two years of backed-up (demand by) Europeans and other people. This year is more like 2019—lots of Europeans and Americans again. But we find more direct flights (Flair Air) from Montreal and Toronto are making it easier to fly, so we get more Canadians as well," he said.
"We have contacts with the biggest tour operator and the second biggest tour operator outside of Holland. We go to some of the big travel expos in Europe and we have contacts with lots of guide books. The canyon is No. 1 on Trip Advisor, so people find out about it that way and through marketing companies like Google ads.”
Vos said everybody loves the canyon.
“If you're not afraid of heights, it's a great place to be. If you're afraid of heights, it's not the best place to be," he said with a laugh. "But it's hard to beat. You've got 18 trestles and two tunnels in 12 kilometres. It's flat and easy."
His rental and tour operation is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., seven days a week from the first weekend in May through Thanksgiving, depending on the winter snowpack in the spring and when snow flies in the fall.
When to go? Friday tends to be the quietest, as tourists head home. Many multi-week vacationers travel from Vancouver, so Tuesday and Wednesday are very busy, and weekends are busy with locals and Lower Mainland and Calgary tourists.
The latest numbers are astounding.
"The KVR trestles received about 160,000 visitors in 2022," said Milt Stevenson, chairman of trail maintenance for the Friends of the South Slopes (FOSS), which added the canyon trail last year. His 53 volunteers perform 2,000 to 2,500 hours of trail maintenance per year in the Myra-Bellevue and Okanagan Mountain provincial parks.
"Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park had 115,000 visitors to the Stewart Road East parking lot. There are multiple access points to the park, so the total number would be considerably higher. I expect a 30 per cent increase, which would be around 150,000."
Knox Mountain Park East in Kelowna has a new trail map finally posted by the city on an empty sign space at the Grainger Road trailhead (off Clifton Road).
On the plus side, it lists 10 trails, each with a distinct colour so you can find them on the map. On the negative side, this southern park section has three trailheads but the Grainger map shows only Grainger. The north-south Glenmore Highlands Trail ends at the bottom edge of the map without showing the Cara Glen Trailhead. Saddle Trail ends at the top without showing the Rio-Upper Canyon trailhead.
In fact, you can't find the Cara Glen trailhead because a new cul-de-sac is under construction. If there ever was a sign, the Sheriff couldn't find it. On the side of Cara Glen, partway to the cul-de-sac, a large sign (facing the hill, not the street, just past two “Private” signs) acknowledges a $146,500 project by the city/federal government for trail upgrades. It turns out, that was in 2021-22. The city has worked on the map and sign graphics portion for the past six months.
Knox Mountain Park East is a confusing mess of trails, which the map and an extremely limited number of signs and their locations, have only made it more confusing. There are city signs for Snowberry and Yarrow near the Rio-Upper Canyon end, for example. But they aren't listed or shown on the map. There are only two signs (on one post) for Glenmore Highlands Trail close to Cara Glen and not one more to the north where it goes to Crosby Road and Wilden.
Apparently this is a work-in-progress with limited funding and nothing has been done to any of the multiple trails to the north. So this undiscovered park remains - as Central Okanagan Outdoors Club members joke - "exploratory."
That said, the Grainger Road trailhead provides easy access to the incredible Phlox Loop Lookout (on the map), this week's first SOS location. It has a panoramic view of downtown and east toward Dilworth Mountain.
The second SOS is a treeless north-south hill the Sheriff calls Forest Edge-Crosby Ridge because there is easy access from the Forest Edge Drive cul-de-sac at the north end and a steep uphill from the top of the switchback gravel road which runs up from the end of paved Crosby Road. The ridge is just north of what the Sheriff labels Crosby Pond, another SOS location.
Last weekend, the Sheriff, Constant Companion Carmen and several Vernon friends explored SilverStar Mountain Resort's downhill trails. We e-biked Cross Mountain Trail over to Cabin Trail to Paradise Trail, all green and an easy ascent to the top of the Comet Express chairlift and B.C. Forestry Lookout, great for a snack break or lunch before the coast downhill.
The lookout is full of information displays and wildflowers are in full bloom. It's a great family outing and we can't wait to return to check out green Challenger, Electric Avenue, Easy Street and Little Ripper. Watching the young, fearless generation tear down the blues and blacks was enough to keep us out of their way. To be continued.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.