- Written by Dan
Okanagan Artisan Trail
By Hostelling International / Photo by Stokes
Cycling Among the Okanagan Valley's Most Beautiful Landscapes
Tree-lined mountains, world-famous cliffs, sparkling lakes and agricultural abundance, the Okanagan Valley overflows with natural beauty year-round, but summer is when the area truly shines.
Located in south central British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley is a four-hour drive from Vancouver, or 300 kilometres inland from the Pacific Ocean.
It is situated at the northern end of the Sonora Desert, which creeps all the way up from Mexico into British Columbia. This semi-arid desert climate provides more than 2,000 hours of sunshine each year, making it a perfect environment for producing some of B.C.’s best wines and in winter, Canada’s famed Icewine. British Columbia has an estimated 9,100 acres of vines, up from 1,000 acres in 1989. The Okanagan Valley is the oldest wine-producing area in the province with more than 70 wineries that produce more than 95 percent of the province’s wine.
The quality of the award-winning wines produced in the Okanagan Valley is helping it garner a reputation as the “Napa of the North.” One of the best ways to explore the region and sample what it has to offer is to take a self-guided or guided cycle-to-winery tour.
There are various routes and itineraries to choose from, but when coupling cycling with wine sampling, it’s best to take the easy, breezy, downhill route. The scenic Kettle Valley Rail Trail from Chute Lake to Penticton, passing by Naramata Bench wineries, is a good way to go.
Before you go, book your stay at HI-Penticton (Penticton is the gateway to the wine country of the South Okanagan). Guests can rent bikes and the friendly staff can tell you all you need to know about cycle-to-winery options. At the end of the day, head back to HI-Penticton and enjoy a barbeque feast prepared by staff and volunteers. This is just one of the ways to spend a memorable summer’s day in the Okanagan.