Yesterday we did our long awaited bike ride from Winfield, B.C. to Vernon, B.C. (54.2km/33.68mi round trip). We began in Winfield because there is one section of the Okanagan Rail Trail from the Kelowna Airport to Winfield that has not been completed and you have to ride along Highway 97 … nope not for this girl!
When CN Rail decided to discontinue their run through the Okanagan local governments, with financial support from the Province of British Columbia, purchased the land, at a cost of $22 million (CN Rail was asking $50 million), and developed the Okanagan Rail Trail. In 2016 a two year community fundraising campaign and several grants raised $7.8 million to develop the first phase of the trail.
Today the trail runs from Okanagan Lake in Kelowna to the north end of Kalamalka Lake in Vernon, 51km 31.7mi along lakeshore, creeks and unique natural environments. Well it almost runs that whole length but as I said above there is a 2.3km section that has not been finished … I’m told the planned completion is September 2019.
Within 500 of metres of the trail there are twenty-two parks and twenty-one recreational and cultural points of interest for bikers and walkers to visit.
Economists project that an additional 107,400 visitors will be attracted to the Okanagan each year specifically to use the trail and hubby and I are doing our part by sending lots of campers out to ride and walk the trail 🙂 It is estimated that these visitors will bring in an additional $6.7 to $8.7 million to the local economy, and about 66 new jobs in related businesses.
The Okanagan Rail Trail is an easy ride because at maximum there is only a 1.3% grade. It is estimated that by the end of the first five years 588,000 people will have used the trail … and hubby and I are happy to be two of those people!
Just as we were almost back to the truck a warm wind and dark clouds rolled in … I think our timing was perfect!
Until next time …