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Myra Canyon Trail – An Amazing Adventure

Myra Canyon Trail – An Amazing Adventure

The Myra Canyon Trail is one of the most stunningly beautiful half-day cycling or hiking excursions in Canada. As I cycled across the first wooden trestle bridge, I gazed out at the canyon and I was blown away. It was one of the most amazing views I have ever seen on two wheels. This scenic section of the historic Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) Trail runs through a dramatic canyon and it takes cyclists and hikers through two tunnels and across 18 trestle bridges. This former rail line was built through the canyon between 1912 and 1914 and was used as an active railway line for many years. When it was discontinued as a railway line, local volunteers converted it into a hiking and cycling trail that includes the canyon and more. This relatively level trail offers incredible canyon views and is completely unique in Canada.

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What it’s Like to Cycle the Myra Canyon Trail

If you’re afraid of heights, the Myra Canyon Trail might make you a bit nervous at first. You do have to be careful when you’re on the trail. There are many steep drop offs, so you should stay well away from the edge. Otherwise it is a fairly smooth trail without steep hills or extreme elevation changes. It’s a relatively easy ride with some of the prettiest views of any cycling or hiking trail in Canada.

Myra Canyon is the highlight of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail and the ride or hike of a lifetime!

Where is Myra Canyon?

The Myra Canyon Trail is 24 kilometres from downtown Kelowna. The canyon can be accessed from either Myra Station on the east end of the canyon or Ruth Station on the west side of the canyon, but the bicycle rentals are located in the Myra Station parking lot. It’s a 40 minute scenic drive from downtown Kelowna to Myra Station.

Myra Canyon Trestles – How Many Trestle Bridges are in Myra Canyon?

Myra Canyon is most famous for its wooden trestle bridges. The 18 trestle bridges were originally built between 1912 and 1914. The bridges were originally used to allow the railway to traverse the canyon, but today they are one of the most stunning features of the cycling and hiking trail. Each trestle bridge is numbered and identified with a plaque.

An image of a trestle bridge in Myra Canyon near Kelowna, BC.
There are 18 trestle bridges in Myra Canyon and some have lookouts like this one. Photo by Carleigh Olsen.

History of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail

The Kettle Valley Railway was a 500 km rail line between Hope and Midway, BC. The Myra Canyon section of the Kettle Valley Rail was originally built between 1912 and 1914. The Canadian Pacific Railway took control of operations in 1931 and then began abandoning the main line and branch lines between 1961 and 1990. When the canyon and the rail line was abandoned by the railway, the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society (MCTRS), a volunteer Canadian registered charitable foundation, successfully lobbied for Myra Canyon to become part of Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park and for it to be declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 2002. Volunteers have been working since 1993 to add side rails to the trestles, add boardwalks, improve the trail, add storm shelters, and place benches along the trail. Volunteers put in thousands of hours clearing fallen trees, building the trail and making it the wonder that it is today. This unique trail is now part of the Trans Canada Trail.

An image of the Myra Canyon Trail near Kelowna, BC.
There are shady sections along the Myra Canyon Trail, but there are also some sections without much cover. Be sure to wear sunscreen on a hot day. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

The Devastating Fires of 2003

The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is a testament to the power of volunteers to make a difference in the world around them. In 2003, wildfires devasted the canyon burning 12 of the 18 bridges. After the fires, volunteers from the MCTRS worked with BC Parks staff to rebuild the 12 burnt wooden trestles and the two damaged steel trestles, restore the trail, replace signage and toilets along the trail. The Myra Canyon Trestle Society is dissolving and will be closing its website effective November 1, 2022.

How Many Train Tunnels are in Myra Canyon?

There are two train tunnels in Myra Canyon. It’s a good idea to remove your sunglasses when you pass through the tunnels while riding a bicycle on a sunny day. It can seem incredibly dark when you go from the bright light of day to the darkness

An image of a tunnel in Myra Canyon near Kelowna, BC.
There are also two train tunnels on the Myra Canyon Trail. Take off your sunglasses when you cycle through the tunnels, so you can see where you are going! Photo by Debbie Olsen.

How Long Does it Take to Cycle the Myra Canyon Trail?

It is 12 kilometres from Myra Station to Ruth Station. Most people park on one side of the canyon and cycle to the other side. Then they turn around and cycle back – a total distance of 24 kilometres. The trail is a relatively easy ride that is suitable for cyclists of all ages. The full trail can be cycled in about two-and-a-half hours, but you should take longer and enjoy it. It’s a good idea to take your time and stop for breaks and pictures along the way. With picture stops and breaks, it will take about three-and-a-half to four hours. There are also some interpretive signs to read along the trail and you may even see wildlife.

Where Can You Park at Myra Canyon?

There are parking lots at either side of the Myra Canyon by the Myra Station and the Ruth Station. The road leading to the parking lot is gravel and rough in places. You don’t need a four wheel drive vehicle to make it to the canyon. An average vehicle can make it if you go slowly and carefully.

How Do You Get to the Myra Canyon Trail Without a Car?

You don’t need a car to get to the Myra Canyon trailhead. The best option if you don’t have a vehicle is to take a guided tour. Most guided tours will pick you up in Kelowna and transport you there. Kettle Valley Railway Cycling Company, Myra Canyon Bicycle Rentals and Tours and Cheers! Okanagan Tours Ltd. offer guided tours that include transportation from Kelowna.

An image of two cyclists taking in the view on the Myra Canyon Trail near Kelowna, BC.
Be sure to stop and take in the views of the canyon as you cycle along the trail. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

Are E-bikes Allowed in Myra Canyon?

E-bikes and motorized vehicles are not allowed in Myra Canyon.

Hot tip: My girls both brought a fanny pack like the one below and it was really useful. It was a great place to store their phone and other essential items while they cycled. Our bikes had a water bottle holder. I was wishing I would have brought one. I kept my phone in my jacket pocket, but it was a little hot to be wearing a jacket.

Related: After a day of cycling or hiking, you’re going to want to relax. Read our post Halfway Hot Springs – A Natural Oasis, one of the many hot springs in British Columbia.

Where can you Rent a Bicycle at Myra Canyon?

We rented our bicycles from Myra Canyon Bicycle Rentals and Tours at the entrance of the trail in the Myra Station parking lot of Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park. You can visit their website and book your bicycle in advance or just pull up and rent a bicycle on the spot. Renting in advance worked well for us, because they set bicycles aside that were the right size for us based on our height and weight. They also have bike trailers for babies and children. There are youth bikes as well. Bicycle rentals are available from early May to mid-October. Most people rent their bikes for half a day – from 9 am to1 pm or from 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm. All rentals include free bicycle helmets.

An image of a sage grouse along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail near Kelowna, BC.
You might see some wildlife along the trail. We saw this sage grouse as we cycled along. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

Which Companies Offer Guided Bike Tours in Myra Canyon?

Several companies offer bike tours of Myra Canyon. These companies will pick up guests in Kelowna and transport them to the trailhead. Kettle Valley Railway Cycling Company, Myra Canyon Bicycle Rentals and Tours and Cheers! Okanagan Tours Ltd. are three companies that offer guided tours.

Hot Tip 2: I brought something the girls didn’t have and it was useful. When I’m cycling, I like to wear padded bike shorts. It makes a huge difference in my comfort level.

Myra Canyon Hike – What You Should Know

You can begin the Myra Canyon hike from either end of the canyon – Myra Station or Ruth Station. It’s a 12-kilometre hike in one direction. You can turn around and hike back for a total distance of 24 kilometres or you can just hike part of the way and turn back. If you want to hike through the train tunnels and feel that you can’t hike the entire return distance, start at the Myra Station end of the canyon.

Related: If you’re looking for another epic hiking experience, check out our post Hiking the Wave in Arizona Just Got Easier!

An image of a cyclist taking in the view in Myra Canyon near Kelowna, BC.
There are plenty of places to stop and take in the view in Myra Canyon. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

What to Bring on the Myra Canyon Trail

There are no water stops along the trail and it can get very hot during the summer. Bring plenty of drinking water, snacks, a spare rain jacket, a first aid kit, and a small backpack or a fanny pack.

Cycling or Hiking the Entire Kettle Valley Rail Trail

If you want to cycle or hike the entire Kettle Valley Rail Trail, you’ll need some time. This recreational trail stretches 650 kilometres from Hope to Castlegar. You can book multi-day cycling or hiking tours or just cycle through Myra Canyon, the prettiest section. Some tours include wine tours and food stops. Some sections of the trail allow horseback riding, e-bikes, motorized vehicles, or snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. You can even take a train ride on one section of this trail.

An image of a person cycling across a wooden trestle bridge in Myra Canyon near Kelowna, BC.
It’s a satisfying feeling when you cycle across the last bridge in Myra Canyon. Photo by Debbie Olsen.

You’ll Want to Cycle or Hike the Canyon Again and Again

Would I go back to cycle or hike the Myra Canyon Trail again? Yes. Absolutely! Myra Canyon Trail is one of the prettiest half-day rides I have ever experienced. I highly recommend this trail – whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a beginner.

The best time to cycle Myra Canyon is from mid-May to mid-October. To keep fit and cycle-ready in the winter, consider getting an indoor exercise bike.

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