Viewing entries tagged
Road bike

5 Great Road Rides in the Okanagan!

5 Great Road Rides in the Okanagan!

Gord Hotchkiss   Giro Okanagan

Gord Hotchkiss

Giro Okanagan

When Western Living magazine asked me to put together 5 iconic rides in the Okanagan Valley, the biggest problem was sticking to 5. I've restricted myself to 5 rides that span the Valley from North to South, ranging right from the Shuswap to close to the US border. These 5 rides showcase the Okanagan in spectacular fashion, taking you through some of the best scenery to be found. And the riding is awesome! Of course, this is the Okanagan so there's lots of climbing involved, but most routes are easily edited to match the degree of challenge you're comfortable with.

General Safety Notes: Quieter Okanagan roads generally lack something in the way of regular maintenance. You can expect potholes and some rough pavement in many areas. If you’re riding in a group, make sure the lead rider is vigilant and points out hazards on the road. Also, some routes have cattle guards. I don’t recommend bunny hopping over them – constant speed and a firmly held front wheel is my personal strategy. If it’s raining, use extra caution. Other than that – happy cycling!

Armstrong Riding!

Armstrong Riding!

The Okanagan Shuswap Century Ride

A Classic North Okanagan 100 K ride - the same route as the very popular OSCR ride held each spring.

Predator Ridge

Predator Ridge

Lake Country - Predator - Wood Lake

Two lakes - a classic climb - one of Western Canada's top resorts and amazing vistas around every corner. One of my favorite rides!

The View from Knox Mountain

The View from Knox Mountain

 

Kelowna - East Kelowna - The Mission - Knox Mountain

A great route circling Kelowna with two optional climbs thrown in! Plenty of orchards, wineries, rural roads and a little city cycling for good measure.

 

The View from Giant's Head

The View from Giant's Head

Summerland - Giant's Head - Fish Lake - Bottleneck Drive

For a short route (just over 60 km) this ride packs a lot of punch. It starts out with 500 m plus of climbing and then takes you through the gorgeous surroundings of Summerland, including a loop through the Bottleneck Drive wineries.

The Vineyards of OK Falls and Vaseux Lake

The Vineyards of OK Falls and Vaseux Lake

Penticton - Okanagan Falls - Black Sage Road - Kaleden

We head south, taking many of the same roads as Axel Merckx's annual Granfondo. Ride along lakes, through some jaw droppingly beautiful vineyards and then cross the Valley to head into the Okanagan high lands.

Summerland - Giant's Head - Fish Lake - Bottleneck Drive

Summerland - Giant's Head - Fish Lake - Bottleneck Drive

60 km • 860 meters of ascent

This is a shorter route but I’ve included one of the classic climbs in the Okanagan: Giant’s Head. You start in lower Summerland and climb up to downtown where you can tackle Giant’s Head if you choose (a little over 400 m of climbing from the start point). From here, you head out on Prairie Valley Road and turn onto the Princeton-Summerland Road. This section has some rough pavement (or, as we lovingly refer to it – pavé) so keep alert. Your perseverance will be rewarded when you turn on Fish Lake Road. Fresh asphalt, quiet roads and great scenery await! Ride out to the turn around point - Camp Boyle (the boy scout camp - and then head back to Summerland and the wineries of Bottleneck Drive. You’ll be riding past several of them (including Dirty Laundry if you continue on Lewes Road) and a few cideries. After a descent down Gartrell you’ll cross Hwy 97 to Trout Creek where you can connect to the new bike path that parallels Hwy 97 back to Lower Summerland.

Riding Notes

Kilometer 0: We start out at Lake level at Summerland's Waterfront resort, but the climbing starts as soon as you turn left on Pear Orchard Road

Kilometer 3.3: At the top of the hill, go 3/4 of the way through the traffic circle onto Rosedale Avenue, then another 3/4 through the next circle to Prairie Valley Road. Take the first right onto Giant's Head Road.

Kilometer 4.5: Turn on Milne Road and the 2nd round of climbing begins. At kilometer 5, look for the gate to Giant's Head Park. Then, settle in for 2.5 km of solid uphill (about 250 m) - an average of 10%! There's a small parking lot at 7.5 km and the top of the mountain is another 500 m hike up a somewhat rugged path. If you want to reward yourself with a spectacular view (it's the feature photo of this post), save your cycling shoes and bring alternative footwear for the hike. If the entire climb (biking and hiking) is not in the cards for you today, just stay on Milne past the gates.

Kilometer 10.5: After a thrilling descent, make a quick right on Victoria and go a quarter way through the traffic circle to get on Prairie Valley Road to the west.

Kilometer 13.7: You're going to turn right on Doherty and then another right on the Princeton-Summerland Road. Pavement could be a little rough through this stretch.

Kilometer 20: Turn right on Fish Lake Road. Ahh..smooth asphalt! Continue to the turn around point at the Boy Scout's Camp - Camp Boyle (km 28.5). Follow the same route back.

Kilometer 43: You can vary the route a little by taking Holt or Lister to Dale Meadows Road

Kilometer 46.5: Turn Right on Victoria Road S.

Kilometer 49.5: Right on Lewes, left on Hillborn, left on Happy Valley Road and right on Gartrell. This winds down the hill, becomes Fir and eventually becomes Johnson Street which crosses the highway (you'll have a light to cross on).

Kilometer 54.7: Turn left on Nixon. It will eventually turn into Thornber and head back towards the highway. The road will parallel the highway until km 56.7. At that point, take the new bike path (runs on the lake side of the highway) back to lower Summerland and your starting point.

< Back to 5 Great Road Rides in the Okanagan

The Okanagan Shuswap Century Ride

Comment

The Okanagan Shuswap Century Ride

103 km • 800 m of ascent

There’s a reason why the Okanagan Shuswap Century ride fully books up within minutes of the registration opening– it’s a great road ride. But you can do the same route anytime. Start in Armstrong’s Memorial Park and ride through the lush farm scenery of the Salmon River Valley up to Salmon Arm. The official route takes a few twists and turns in Salmon Arm before you hit the most challenging climb of the ride, the 200 m grind up Okanagan Avenue. Leaving Salmon Arm, you’ll ride for a short distance on Hwy 97 C (with fairly wide shoulders) before turning right on Deep Creek Road and driving through more bucolic scenery back towards Armstrong. This is a great sampling of the rolling farmlands of the North Okanagan!

Riding Notes

(This is a great ride, but the route is a little complex in places..and the names of roads seem to switch and then reappear later with little reason or logic. Precise turn-by-turn directions would make this post longer than the ride itself! Therefore, use the following as a rough guide and take a map of the route with you on the ride)

Kilometer 0: The ride starts from Centennial Park in Armstrong and heads out of town on Pleasant Valley Road.

Kilometer 5.5: Turn right on Crozier Road, then left on Otter Lake Cross Road

Kilometer 9.5: A right on Otter Lake Road takes you to the first climb of the ride.

Kilometer 12.5: Follow Salmon River Road west and north (it takes many turns that defy naming logic, so consult the map before heading out)

Kilometer 50.5: Turn right on 70th Street and go through a few right angle turns until you get to Foothill Road SW. Take this all the way into Salmon Arm

Kilometer 61: Again, follow the map to navigate through Salmon Arm to Okanagan Avenue East, where you'll start the second big climb of the ride.

Kilometer 71: If your map reading skills are up to par, you should turn onto the Salmon Arm Grindrod Highway here, for a short ride to Deep Creek Road

Kilometer 98.7: You're almost back. Turn left on Woods Avenue and loop through Armstrong back to your starting point.

< Back to 5 Great Road Rides in the Okanagan

Comment