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Go on a journey along the Okanagan’s most extensive trail for an unforgettable B.C. experience

Outdoor explorers should visit the Greater Vernon area for one of B.C.’s best scenic trails — the Okanagan Rail Trail.
Vernon ORT Fall Drone Finals-5-medium
Okanagan Rail Trail in Vernon, B.C.

The Greater Vernon area is known for its world-class hiking and biking trails that are unmatched anywhere else in B.C. — chief among them being the extensive and exquisite Okanagan Rail Trail.

Starting at the north end of the gorgeous Kalamalka Lake and ending at the center of Okanagan Lake, the Okanagan Rail Trail offers a scenic lakefront route for cycling, running, walking, and taking a stroller or wheelchair in the Okanagan Valley. 


Okanagan Rail Trail. Photo: Okanagan Rail Trail.

With KM 0 situated in the North Okanagan district of Coldstream in Greater Vernon, the pathway is accessible for all abilities and is doable in all four-seasons.

The Okanagan Rail Trail is currently under further development, with plans for the 50 km track of level, discontinued rail corridor to be extended by another 2 km to further connect communities between Coldstream and Kelowna.

More than just a trail, there are many different types of experiences to take along the Okanagan Rail Trail.


Okanagan Rail Trail. Photo: Okanagan Rail Trail.

EXPERIENCE NATURE 

Nature awaits on the Okanagan Rail Trail. 

The trail begins on the shores of Kalamalka Lake, which is known for its spectacular range of colours, from teal to cyan to indigo. Right along the lake, Kekuli Bay Provincial Park offers a great spot for picnicking, camping, seeing nature, and exploring the pebble beach.

To the south of Kalamalka Lake is Wood Lake, one of the Okanagan’s warmest and calmest lakes. Slow down and take a stop at the lake for trout fishing, watersports, and relaxing on the beach.

The cliffs, forests, and ponds that surround the rail trail are within provincial protected areas conveserving the area’s unique dryland ecosystems. Be on the lookout for raptors in the ponderosa pine trees and the seasonal change of blooming wildflowers, and you’ll see how easy it is to witness nature in action. 

As you go along the Okanagan Rail Trail, keep an eye out for wonders along the trail, on the water, and on the slopes above.


Okanagan Rail Trail. Photo: Okanagan Rail Trail.

EXPERIENCE THE OKANAGAN’S HISTORY & CULTURE

The Indigenous Okanagan people’s Nysyilxcn name for the Okanagan Rail Trail route is xwił iʔ sw̓kʷnaʔqin, meaning ‘road of the Okanagan People’. 

Long before the railway corridor was established in the early 1900s for the transport of fruit crops and other goods, the Syilx Okanagan people occupied and used the area that surrounds the trail for hunting, fishing, gathering, social, and ceremonial purposes.

The Okanagan Rail Trail presents a rare opportunity to uncover the unique and rich heritage of each community along the route. As you journey along the rail trail, immerse yourself in discovering the language, protocols, traditional customs, and stories developed by the Indigenous caretakers of the Okanagan Valley. 


BOA THONG Thai Food Restaurant in Vernon, B.C. Photo: Okanagan Rail Trail.

EXPERIENCE DOWNTOWN VERNON’S DINING SCENE

After a few hours of exploring the Okanagan Rail Trail, you’re eventually going to want to make a detour into the city to fuel up. Luckily, there are pathways from the trail that will take you right to some of the great dining options located in downtown Vernon.

Head to Ratio Coffee & Pastry for coffee, espresso, handcrafted pastries, sandwiches, and other cafe delights. EATology is Vernon’s spot for breakfast and lunch made with fresh, local ingredients and with many vegan and gluten-free options available on the menu. BOA THONG is known in the North Okanagan for serving the best authentic Thai food in the region. For an elegant fine dining experience, book a reservation at Intermezzo and enjoy steak, seafood, and Mediterranean dishes paired with an international wine list.

To ensure that the Okanagan Rail Trail remains enjoyable for everyone and sustainable for the future, review the trail etiquette guide for tips on reducing your impact on the environment and residents when using the trail and exploring the area. 

For more on the Okanagan Rail Trail, visit okanaganrailtrail.ca.