Fall is a great time to get out on your bike in the Okanagan

Fall bike rides in the valley

Happy birthday (today) to me, the Sheriff! And happy birthday to Constant Companion Carmen (on Friday)!

Two Virgos in one household is almost too much but it's important to remember that September is a transition month, when summer changes into fall (Sept. 21). Believe the Sheriff, change is almost constant and challenging around this household, so someone's nickname could be Constantly Challenging Carmen.

With transition to fall in mind, there could be only eight weeks of cycling in mild temperatures left in 2023 so take advantage of the opportunity to revisit some of your favourite routes and perhaps check out that new trail you've been itching to try since spring.

On the Labour Day weekend, the Sheriff and CCC e-biked one of our favourite routes, the Okanagan Rail Trail and the Kal Crystal Waters Trail from Oyama to Coldstream. On Wednesday, we returned to the ORT in the North Okanagan and cycled from Kekuli Bay Provincial Park to Kalamallka Lake Provincial Park for two other favourites, Comin' Round the Mountain (SOS spot) and down Cosens Bay Trail for lunch.

We have also paddled one of our favourite kayak routes from Bertram Creek Regional Park into Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park with its blackened trees still evident from the 2003 firestorm. What memories that brought back.

A reminder that the ORT will be closed weekdays between Kekuli Bay and Kickwillie Loop Road 7 a.m.-5 p.m. from Sept. 11 to 22 for rockfall mitigation work. The detour is Kal Crystal Waters.

September is also a time to reflect back on what a memorable summer it has been.

Marketing associate Deanna Kristensen is looking back fondly at Big White's season with the bike park and hiking trails opening on June 29.

"The new Dirt Pass was unveiled, offering three unrestricted days of mountain biking, and visitors captured the first views of a revamped village with shaded chill zones and the modular pump track," she said.

"On July 8, Dan Tait kicked off the weekly Summer Music Series in the Village. The sold-out eighth annual Craft and Country Beer and Music Mountain Festival on July 15 was the highlight of the summer for many visitors with Gary Saturday rocking the Village stage. From July 19 to 22, the Freeride Day MTB Festival saw global biking athletes competing for top honours."

The Summer Music Series presented a lineup of great local talent, including performances by Rusty Someone and Garrett Scatterty, Bray & Co and Jon Bos, she said.

"For Dog Day at Big White on Aug. 26, visitors celebrated our four-legged friends, raising $1,715 for Paws it Forward. Summer's essence was also captured in bike camps, providing enthusiasts an opportunity to learn and enjoy. Throughout August, the resort ran Fiv’r Friday event races - presented by Fox Racing to support MTBCO (Mountain Bikers of the Central Okanagan) - and bike camps, including the Youth MTB Clinic, Norco Dirt Series Mountain Bike Camp and the All Mountain MTB Camp with Elevation Outdoors."

Amidst all these festivities, devastating wildfires brought a challenge to mountain operations as Big White opened its arms providing shelter, comfort and services to more than 1,000 evacuees. On Aug. 20, the resort hosted a fundraising pancake breakfast by donation at the Woods restaurant. More than 500 Big White community members and wildfire evacuees contributed $1,261 to Mamas for Mamas to support their local efforts.

For the final weekend of the season, Big White provided free lift tickets (by donation to local firefighters) for the bike park or sightseeing for 2023-24 season pass holders.

"Don't forget to check out bigwhite.com and watch for updates on the opening day of the 2023-24 winter on Nov. 23," said Kristensen.


Meanwhile, the Revelstoke Bike Park brought non-stop fun and excitement to all who visited this summer, said Laura Meggs, communications manager in the marketing department.

"Our trail crew worked hard to bring new trails and features as well as perfected existing trails creating a dynamic experience for riders of all levels,” she said.

“Highlight events like the Canadian Enduro League weekend and the Dark Horse Invitational further elevated the park experience, drawing in riders and spectators alike to witness incredible displays of talent at the resort."

A reminder that the MTB Park's final day is Sept. 24 following the RCA 5er DH Race presented by the resort and Revelstoke Cycling Association, après party in the plaza, on Sept. 23.

The chairlift at Sun Peaks Resort also closes on Sept. 24. Golf, canoe, kayak, etc. are weather-dependent. Indoor activities like axe-throwing are open year-round along with most restaurants, cafes and boutiques.


It's time to catch up on information flooding in during the wildfires. First, a followup to the recent column on the popularity of Myra Canyon and Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park.

Penny Gubbels, long-time volunteer with Friends of the South Slopes, found a chart showing the incredible growth in numbers at the Stewart Road East trailhead in Kelowna during a 10-year period. (Not every year was included due to COVID-19.)

In 2012, BC Parks reported 35,000 visitors; in 2013, 44,352; in 2014, 47,635; in 2015, 58,786; in 2016, 68,586; in 2018, 81,321; and in 2021, 110,000.

"I'm sure the Myra Trestles have a similar trajectory," said Gubbels. "It would be very interesting to have an accurate measurement of total usage of the Crawford Trails section of the park as there are so many access points to the park that are used both by folks in the neighbourhood or folks that drive/cycle/walk to other access points.

“Most people I know don't access the park via the SRE Trailhead. They are using Stewart Road West, Harvard Road, Salamander, Ball Court, Luxmoore, Hromek/June Springs, Angel Springs, Bellevue Access, etc, etc. But I doubt if B.C. Parks would be willing to install a 'counter' at every single public access point."


Feedback from Judie Steeves, past-president of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association: "Thanks so much for featuring the UnH2O Xeriscape Demonstration Garden in your column. Glad you’ve found it an inspirational and restful spot to visit while touring around town. We hope everyone in the valley will be impressed with how beautiful plants that conserve water can be and will be keen on adopting the use of xeriscape plants that suit our dry Okanagan climate in their landscapes.

"Our annual Fall Plant Sale is being held in the garden 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 23 and will feature a wide variety of drought-tolerant perennials that will help everyone conserve water, even while maintaining a beautiful garden."


The Central Okanagan Naturalists' Club will hold its first post-summer general meeting on Sept. 12 at Evangel Church on Gordon Drive in Kelowna.

Merle Kindred of Penticton will present Gripped by Guyana about her adventures in that country. Copies of her just-released book of the same name will be available for purchase, said club president Douglas Graham.


This week's Secret Okanagan Spots (in the SOS series) are a bench on the Cosens Bay Trail with a panoramic view of the Coldstream Valley in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park and the hidden artistic bench in Kelowna's Sunset Drive Park.

A short walk in from Manhattan Drive, look for the short trail on your right into the bench and view of a heron metal sculpture which seems to regularly attract live herons.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Making Tracks articles

About the Author

J.P. Squire arrived in the Okanagan Valley from flatland Chatham, Ont. in the middle of the night in the spring of 1980. Waking up in the Highway 97 motel, he looked across the then-four-lane roadway at Mount Baldy and commented: "Oh my God, there's mountains." Driving into downtown Kelowna, he exclaimed: "Oh my God, there's a lake."

The rest is history. After less than a month in Kelowna, he concluded: "I'm going to live here for a long time." And he did.

Within weeks and months, he was hiking local hillsides, playing rec hockey at Memorial Arena and downhill skiing at Big White Ski Resort. After purchasing a hobby farm in the Glenmore Valley in 1986, he bought the first of many Tennessee Walking Horses. After meeting Constant Companion Carmen in 1999, he bought two touring kayaks and they began exploring Interior lakes and B.C.'s coast.

The outdoor recreation column began with downhill ski coverage every winter as the Ski Sheriff but soon progressed to a year-round column as the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff.

His extensive list of contacts in Okanagan outdoor recreation clubs, organizations and groups means a constant flow of emails about upcoming events and activities which will be posted on Castanet every Sunday.

You can email the Sheriff at: [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories