Every year, when my family and I travel to Canada, we spend a few days in Kelowna visiting my husband's mom. On this recent trip, smoke from nearby forest fires was blowing into Kelowna, making air quality quite bad. But we lucked out on our last full day and the skies cleared and we were able to get out and do some hiking! Looking online for "things to do in Kelowna", hiking in Myra Canyon sounded like the perfect way to spend a few hours!
The Myra Canyon Trail is a 12km (7.5 mile) hike, 24km (15 mile) round-trip. The cool thing about this trail is it crosses several train trestle bridges from the former Kettle Valley Railway. The Kettle Valley Railway carried passenger and freight trains from 1914 to 1973, and the tracks were removed in 1980. The canyon endured a massive forest fire in 2003 that damaged several of the trestles bridges. That led to a restoration project where all the trestles were repaired and rebuilt. Now the area is a recreational highlight of Kelowna, for hikers and cyclists to enjoy.
We were really excited about going to check it out. Unfortunately, as much as we wanted to do the whole round-trip hike, we didn't have enough time. We did manage, however, to hike about 2km in and back, which just the breath of fresh air we needed!
But first, we needed to get to Myra Canyon! From downtown Kelowna, it's about a 30 minute drive to Myra Station, the start of the trail. To get there, you drive by Gallagher Canyon Golf Course. From a convenient roadside pullout, you get a great view of the golf course and Okanagan Lake in the background.
Then you drive down some "country" roads...
...before reaching the dirt road that leads you up Okanagan Mountain.
You drive along this dirt road for about 8km (5 miles) before reaching the turnoff for the parking lot at Myra Station. Because it's a dirt road and it can be quite bumpy at times, the journey up Okanagan Mountain can be a bit slow-going. However, it's also quite scenic driving through the trees, and before you know it, the skies open up a bit and you've climbed Okanagan Mountain!
This is our rear window after the drive up. No, our van was not wet when we drove up. The dust and dirt just COATED the everything!
This map at Myra Station shows the complete 12km trail, indicating where each trestle bridge is. Because of our limited time, we planned to get to the first tunnel 2km in and turn around. Unfortunately, Trestle 6, the largest of the bridges, was too far out. However, we were still excited to get to see a few!
The trail is a dirt trail and relatively flat, so it is an easy hike/walk. You can also rent bicycles and ride the trail that way.
As you walk the trail, you see reminders from the big forest fire in 2003. The dramatic looking skeletons of damaged trees are everywhere. In contrast, you also see life in all the new growth, too, filling in the spaces at the base of the old trees.
You don't have to hike too far into Myra Canyon before you get a view of Kelowna and Lake Okanagan. We're quite high up!
Crossing the Trestle 18, the first trestle bridge on the trail from Myra Station! Every trestle bridge has guard rails and wood plank walkways, making it easy for trail users. These modifications reflect part of the massive restoration project.
Trestle 17 and 16!
Even though we couldn't make it to Trestle 6, we could see it in the distance from various points on the trail.
Right before the tunnel, you are at the highest elevation of the Kettle Valley Railway at 1,274 m (4180 ft). You can then walk through the tunnel, which is pretty awesome in itself. It's long enough so that you have to get quite deep into the tunnel before you can see light at the other end! It also makes for great echos!
Light at the end of the tunnel.
And unfortunately, this was our turn-around point.
Walking back along the trail, we get a different perspective of the same trestles at the beginning of our hike. The lighting has also changed a bit, creating a different affect on the landscape.
We plan to revisit Myra Canyon on a future trip to Kelowna and do the whole trail to see all the trestles. We may also rent bikes next time! If you happen to visit Kelowna, British Columbia, be sure to make time for this walk in the woods. You'll get some fresh air, see great sights, and learn a bit of history, all at the same time!
For more information, be sure to visit the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration website.