Rail Trail provides opportunity for a sip and nosh
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By Aaron Theisen
Kelowna, B.C. – Nearly a century ago, a new rail line connected Kelowna’s goods to the rest of the country. Today it connects communities along the Okanagan Valley on a scenic non-motorized trail.
Constructed by Kelowna Pacific Railway, the Kelowna branch of the Canadian Northern Railway connected that community to the transit hub of Kamloops. Prior to the line’s completion in 1925, fruit producers around Kelowna had to rely on boats, barges and short-line trains to get their goods north – an eternity in the time-is-money markets of perishable goods. The CN line allowed Kelowna to ship the produce and lumber of the Okanagan Valley to markets across Canada, ensuring the city’s success.
Quiet for over 50 years, a portion of the old CN Line now bustles with bikers and hikers as the Okanagan Rail Trail.
The patio Giobean Coffee makes for a perfect pre-ride caffeine stop
The 50km rail trail runs from the centre of Okanagan Lake in Kelowna, north to Kalamalka Lake near Vernon, connecting communities from Kelowna to Vernon to Coldstream. Along the way, it passes through shopping districts and shoreline parks, with nearly half its length flanked by natural habitats. And with a steam-engine-friendly maximum grade of 1.3%, riders won’t be huffing and puffing on this nearly level ride.
The third-generation family-owned and operated Gatzke Orchards Farm Market boasts local produce – and pie
Riders making an out-and-back excursion – or getting a later start on the day – should cycle over to the Sandhill Winery tasting room. Produced by Calona Wines, the oldest winery in B.C. and the province’s first commercial winery, Sandhill also occupies B.C.’s oldest winery location. Here, the Okanagan’s ample natural light filters down through modern furnishings and classic wines.
Continuing through Lake Country, the Rail Trail winds past Wood Lake, a stone’s throw from the shore. At the north end, stop in at Gatzke Orchards Farm Market. The third-generation family-owned and operated farm features fresh apple pie and ice cream, and a cyclist-friendly deck on which to enjoy it. Or, take the rail trail across the isthmus separating Kalamalka and Wood Lakes to Kaloya Regional Park for a picnic.
Cyclists sip wine from the trellised patio at Ancient Hill Winery
For a stellar sunset scene to accompany your picnic, head back to North Kelowna and Ancient Hill Winery. Here, on the trellised patio of this European-style winery, sip small-lot wine produced from grapes grown and processed on-site while enjoying a bird’s-eye view of – and a well-deserved break from – the day’s ride.