High in the hills of southeastern Kelowna is a walk/bike ride like no other. Myra Canyon is home to 16 beautiful trestles along the abandoned Kettle Valley Railway. Ranging up to 220m in length, these wooden railway bridges are a sight to behold. Our visit in October last year with my parents (who contributed some of the below photos) coincided with the colours changing, something that only enhanced the wonderful views of the surrounding landscape as well as the intricate trestles themselves.
A bit of history
I’ve written about my love of the KVR before. To quickly recap, the KVR was a railway line built to serve mining interests in BC’s Southern Okanagan region from 1915-1989. The maximum 2.2% grade of the route has made it an ideal recreational trail for cyclists and walkers.
Myra Canyon, a long and wide chasm with several creeks running along it, proved to be difficult obstacle to cross for the railway planners. The elevation is also the highest on the entire 455km long KVR route, at 1274m. 18 bridges and 2 tunnels were required to complete this tricky section of the KVR.
This incredible engineering achievement continues to be appreciated today by the thousands of walkers and cyclists who visit Myra Canyon every year. Indeed, the Myra Canyon section is the most popular of the entire KVR route. Be sure to arrive early if visiting in the summer.
Yellow, orange and brown
The pops of autumn colours on the hillsides around the trail seemed to fit perfectly with the rustic wooden trestles. With few deciduous trees, the Okanagan is not known for dramatic fall scenes in general. Myra Canyon offered a great subtle taste of what the season has to offer.
Note that the elevation does make Myra Canyon feel a lot cooler than elsewhere in the Valley. If you want to check out the colours for yourself be sure to wrap up!
Varying in height from 8 to 55m, the trestles each have a different vantage point around the valley and across to the other trestles. The longer trestles were my favourite as they have little viewing points jutting out into the canyon. I later found that these convenient viewing stands were actually used when the railway was active to store water containers in case of fire!
Most of the trestles are sadly not the original versions. 12 of the 18 trestles in Myra Canyon caught fire during the devastating 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park fire despite a multitude of efforts to save them. Rebuilt by BC Parks and volunteers using government funding, the trestles were returned to their former glory by 2008. The Myra Canyon Restoration Society continues to raise money for the maintenance of these beautiful structures.
All the details
The Myra Canyon trestles can be easily reached from two main entrances, Myra Station (east) and Ruth Station (west). For walkers, Myra Station makes for a better day trip. A relatively short 8km return walk from here accesses 13 bridges (of 18) and 2 tunnels. We parked at Myra Station for this visit.
Myra Station is an easy 40-minute drive from Kelowna. Follow the KLO Road east and then turn onto McCullough Road (side note, McCullough was the KVR’s chief engineer). Continue along McCullough until the Myra Canyon Service Road turnoff. This 8km long logging road will take you all the way to the Myra Station parking lot. It is a well-maintained gravel road, which was perfectly driveable in a rental car with a low suspension (as we had).
For Ruth Station, follow the above instructions but turn off earlier on June Springs Rd before reaching Gallagher’s Canyon Golf Resort. June Springs eventually turns into Little White Forest Service Road, a logging road. This road goes all the way to the Ruth Station parking lot.
PIN below image for future reference. Just click the top left-hand corner