Kettle Valley Rail Trail

The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is a multi-use inter recreational rail track in southern British Columbia’s Okanagan-Boundary area.

The path follows a rail line that was created for the now-defunct Kettle Valley Railway. After the Canadian Pacific Railway discontinued train service in the 1990s, the path was built.

The part of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail through Myra Canyon is one of the most popular. Myra Canyon is located on Okanagan Mountain, south of Kelowna. Originally, the stretch of railway went between Midway and Penticton. The section of railway between Myra station and June Springs station required 18 wooden trestles and two tunnels when it was built to overcome the steep canyon.

For many years following the rail line’s demise, the region was a popular tourist destination; with its relatively easy gradient, it became a hiker and bicycle paradise. Years of deterioration on the trestles began to have an effect on the line. Vandals had cut railway ties from some of the bigger steel bridges, leaving huge gaps. Hikers and bikers who wanted to cross the trestles would have to walk on lengths of steel little wider than a foot across in places where the ties had been removed. This would not ordinarily be a problem, except that many of these trestles and bridges were hundreds of feet tall. However, following a tragic accident involving a bicycle on one of the trestles, a large number of individuals petitioned to have the bridges and trestles made safer. These improvements included repairs after many years of deterioration, as well as the construction of railings and boards to eliminate the need for passengers to leap between each railway tie.

This section of the railway was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2002.

From August to September 2003, lightning caused the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire at Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park. As it raced southeast across Okanagan Mountain, this fire swiftly grew in size and strength. Much of the KVR between Penticton and McCulloch Lake was destroyed by this fire. Despite the firefighters’ best efforts, the fire destroyed 12 of Myra Canyon’s 18 trestles. In addition, the fire damaged the bridge decks of two of the metal bridges.

The British Columbia provincial government stated shortly after the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire in 2003 that it will replace the damaged and burned trestles and bridges. On June 22, 2008, the trail’s rehabilitation was completed, and an official re-opening ceremony was held. Furthermore, safety measures such as clearance and rock face stabilization have been implemented along the railway.

Kelowna Province of BC

Kelowna Art Gallery