A Weekend in Kelowna
More adventures in the heart of the Okanagan Valley
Kelowna and the surrounding Okanagan Valley continue to entice. From lush vineyards to golden highlands, sprawling lakes and scenic rocky perches, a fascinating mix of urban and rural, the ever-growing city holds rewards for every type of traveller, and each visit brings a new discovery.
This time around we explored the burgeoning craft brewery scene in the city's North End, biked the new Okanagan Rail Trail, hiked the grassy flanks of Mt Boucherie, and enjoyed a morning horseback ride through Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park. For more trip ideas, including organic wineries and orchards, please check out our Sustainable Kelowna post from last year.
BIKE THE OKANAGAN RAIL TRAIL
Kelowna sits at the crossroads of some of the province's best biking routes. You have the Kettle Valley Rail Trail of course, winding some 650km (400 miles) from Hope to Castlegar across the stunning trestles of nearby Myra Canyon, and now there's the recent addition of the Okanagan Rail Trail as well. Completed in September 2018, the Okanagan Rail Trail connects downtown Kelowna to the north end of beautiful Kalamalka Lake, a breezy 50km of flat pavement and hard-packed gravel through the city and neighbouring orchards out along lakefront. The Kalamalka Lake section is a particular highlight, with the beautiful blues of the water contrasting with the greys and golds of the sun-baked rocky landscape. You'll find apple trees growing here and there along the trail, orchards to visit, plenty of swimming spots, and tons of magnificent views. Please note at the time of writing there is one section just north of the airport that hasn’t opened yet, so please factor that in if you decide to ride it!
TOUR THE NORTH END BREWERIES
Best known as a world-famous wine destination, Kelowna has recently been making a name for itself in the craft beer scene as well. Longtime locals Tree Brewing have been joined by a surge of delicious newcomers, mostly situated conveniently close to each other in the city's North End. We stopped in for tastings at Vice & Virtue, Red Bird, and Kettle River Brewing but there are tons more to try, including Rustic Reel, BNA Brewing, and even some of our favourite ciders at nearby BC Tree Fruits. A perfect weekend project.
STAY AT MYRA CANYON RANCH
Located 20 minutes from downtown in the hills above Kelowna, Myra Canyon Ranch is a cozy and contemporary little lodge that also offers horse rides and bike rentals. Nestled on the edge of Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, you'll enjoy sweeping views over the valley from your room and easy access to nice trails through the park.
After a relaxing night's rest we met our guide Christina and saddled up our horses for the morning's ride. We set out into the fragrant pine forests, the trail eventually opening up and revealing views of the surrounding hills and the distant Okanagan Lake far below. The park had a big wildfire in 2003, leaving large open areas and skeletal trees, but signs of growth are everywhere. We continued on, climbing a little ridge, and met some mountain bikers who said they had just encountered a moose feeding in one of the nearby ponds. Pretty neat!
HAVE LUNCH AT FRANKIE WE SALUTE YOU
For a fun and innovative (and delicious!) plant-based meal in the centre of the city, check out Frankie We Salute You. Sourcing most of their ingredients from local growers and farmers, you'll find a bright and colourful experience with dishes like chickpea fries, smoked carrot on toast, and some tasty tasty veggie bowls. We'll be back.
HIKE MT BOUCHERIE
Our final jaunt was a quick hike up Mt Boucherie. The remains of an extinct volcano, Mt Boucherie offers some interesting geologic features not normally found in the region. Once rising to more than 2,000m (6500ft) in elevation, it has been scraped and eroded over 50 million years' worth of ice ages and wind and rain to little more than 417m. But even so, it offers quite a view! We loved the sunburnt grasses and fragrant flora on the hike up — keep an eye out for sagebrush, bitterroot, and other little desert-loving flowers. From the top you can gaze out over the surrounding neighbourhoods and vineyards towards a magnificent view of Okanagan Lake.
Big thanks to Tourism Kelowna for making this trip possible! Check out their website for more great trip ideas: