Okanagan: Riding in the Sun - Crawford and Smith Creek, Part Two

May 27, 2015 at 8:44
by Lee Lau  

On a warm and sunny May 2015 we (Rich, Sharon and Lee) road-tripped to British Columbia's Okanagan region to ride in Penticton and Kelowna and to hang with Johnny Smoke of Bush Pilot Biking to do some research on MTB Trails' next project. The Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides will hopefully complement MTB Trails' other guides for the North Shore and the Fraser Valley and will provide a selection of what to ride in the Okanagan. There are a ton of trail systems in this area; the goal is to focus on rides that will give you a good flavour for each region, and/or trails that will best showcase the many areas in the Okanagan.

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The Trailmapps South Okanagan app (Android and Apple) also covers the Kelowna area. The local trail association - Mountain Bikers of the Central Okanagan (MTBCo) (website here) and of course Trailforks (Crawford and Smith Creek). We also visited a local bike shop (Freedom) who were very helpful. Thanks to them!

Crawford/Myra

The Crawford trails aka Myra-Bellevue is located in one of the few Provincial Parks that allow mountain biking. These trails are currently managed by the Friends of the South Slope Society . People have been riding these trails for many years. In 2003 the area was devastated by a fire but has since made a remarkable recovery. Hosting upwards of 87 trails this area offers a wide variety of experiences in different bio-geo-climatic zones. Road access to the Crawford/Myra Canyon area is helpfully described via the MTBCo website . You may want to ride up or shuttle up one of the two roads that access the Kettle Valley Railway; June Springs Rd, which becomes Little White FSR, or Myra Forest Service Rd. Both are accessed off McCulloch Rd from Kelowna.

We did two shuttles this day, one up Myra FSR, which allowed us to ride the along the rebuilt trestles of the KVR and down the Myra Bailout, Angel Springs and KLO Canyon. Then we drove up June Springs road, again along the KVR and down the classic Crawford DH; Lookout; Hillbilly; Race Classic; Surf and Turf and back into town. The roads are in good shape and 4wd is not necessary. You will probably see lots of traffic on the KVR trestles so govern your speed accordingly and be nice to all users (that need not be said but ...)

Okanagan Riding in the Sun - Crawford and Smith Creek Part Two
Large parking area at the top of the Myra FSR

Okanagan Riding in the Sun - Crawford and Smith Creek Part Two
BC Parks Kiosk with lots of signage

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides Rich S photo
One of the rebuilt trestles..Photo by Rich Vigurs

Okanagan Riding in the Sun - Crawford and Smith Creek Part Two
Intersection with signs. We started on the Myra Bailout which many use to climb to the KVR. Continuing down the Myra Bailout will take you to the main Crawford network

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides
KLO Canyon has you crossing KLO creek a few times.

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides Rich S photo
The KLO Canyon trails wind in and out of the creek. Photo by Rich Vigurs.

We then drove up June Springs road, rode 4km along the KVR and down to the CrawfordDH. BC Parks Map of the area.
Okanagan Riding in the Sun - Crawford and Smith Creek Part Two
Crawford DH

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides Johnny Smoke photo
Checking out the Canyon - Photo by Johnny Smoke

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides Rich S photo
Long way down! Photo by Rich Vigurs

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides Rich S photo
Crawford trails! Photo by Rich Vigurs

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides
Crawford Burn. The forest has come back so fast from the 2003 fire. You can still see flame retardant on the trees.

Okanagan Riding in the Sun - Crawford and Smith Creek Part Two
This network is pretty well signed

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides
FAST and loose trails!

Okanagan Riding in the Sun - Crawford and Smith Creek Part Two
We dropped into the Bellevue Canyon area and the very technical Surf and Turf trail. The rockwork is to be admired - photo by Johnny Smoke.

Myra Bailout to KLO Canyon

Crawford Shuttle.


Crawford Trails from Trailforks

Smith Creek

What? You haven't ridden Smith Creek yet???? That's the usual reaction we had when we confessed to our ignorance. Trail access is described here via the MTBCo website. From Hwy 97 turn north up Elliot rd to Smith Cr Rd on your right. Park on the left of the road where you see a trail exiting on the right, or continue up to a larger parking lot in the Pine trees. A small area with only 7 trails it packs a punch. The 8km climb - The Gruel - takes you to 560m elevation. There are many options to descend from the climb or ride all the way to the top. Soul Train starts at the top of The Gruel and continues onto Feel the Love, where you can take an optional loop More Cowbell. Santa's Revenge is a Black Diamond trail containing more advanced features. Feel the Love and More Cowbell have nice moderate level jumps, berms and features to keep most riders entertained. While it's geared towards pedally bikes there are tons of options here for cheap air (aka clangers - you'll understand why when you hear your bike land). Trails are fast, buff, narrow and a blast with awesome sightlines.

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Okanagan Riding in the Sun - Crawford and Smith Creek Part Two
Smith Creek Parking

Okanagan Riding in the Sun - Crawford and Smith Creek Part Two
The Gruel crosses the descent a few times.

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides
Wood carvings on the climb.

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides
It's sometimes said that Westbank is where Surrey goes to vacation. Appropriately here is an abandoned Ford Falcon feature incorporated in the climb.

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides
Top of the climb.

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides
Nice sized clanger jumps on the way down.

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides Photo JohnnyS
Clang!

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides
And other features.

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides

Research for the Locals Guide to Okanagan Rides Photo JohnnyS



MENTIONS: @leelau


Smith Creek from Trailforks
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27 Comments

  • + 6
 I live and ride here. Add Rose Valley to the list. The Kelowna area has so many trails and for the most part it's all fast and loose. Also, you don't need to shuttle the Crawford area. Myself and a few friends (all in our mid 30's and 40's) regularly ride from the parking lot up to the KVR and blast (at least it feels like it) down. Rides can be as short as an hour or all day affairs without having to repeat the same trails. Love it.
  • + 1
 Yah we were short on time as we had to cover a bunch of ground. I've done the ride up to the KVR and agreed it isn't bad. My bad for not mentioning that
  • + 1
 No bad in my opinion. Stories can never cover everything. It always amazes me when I ride with someone new and they show me a trail I didn't know about in an area I've ridden for over 20 years. This is one of the many things that keeps me loving this sport.
  • + 6
 Heading over to BC in Sept for some riding, I'll add these to the rather long list! I might just not come back!
  • + 2
 Small thing: that trestle wasn't rebuilt. They only replaced the wood decking on the steel trestles. Some of the wooden ones were rebuilt from scratch though. I've done the section between Kelowna and Penticton 6 times now, and the first time was before they put any of the railings or decks in. It was just the original railroad ties on the trestles, so you certainly had to watch your step!
  • + 2
 what is the current status of the Gillard trails? I believe the Forestry Service had said no go last spring? I didnt see anything new with a very quick look at the MTBco website. will be in the Okanagan in July for a week
  • + 1
 Actively being worked on by Andrew McIntosh. Johnny can update
  • + 1
 Lived in K-Town for a summer several years ago. Hooked up w/ the local shop group rides and met tons of nice people. Had the forturne to ride most of what the area has to offer. So fast! So hot! So dry! So good! Will be heading back this fall for a three day ride fest and cannot wait! Great stuff. This is what mtn biking is to me.
  • + 1
 Seems like you're just duplicating what Andrew Drouin has done on www.sweetsingletrack.ca, no? Although he didn't cover much north of Kelowna. Either way lots of good riding in the valley.
  • + 1
 Very timely. I hit up Smith Creek on the way back to Van today. Good times! Some of those landings are flat. Look before you leap on the bigger stuff. Next time you're at Crawford, check out Vapour. I loved it.
  • + 2
 Spent a bunch of time riding the crawford trail network a few years ago while going to ok college. Good times.
  • + 2
 I liked it! It shows in less than 3 minutes what mountainbiking is.
  • + 2
 I ride there a lot, its super fun
  • + 1
 Never seen a old car left in the woods without being full of bullet holes. Hmm don't they have guns there?
  • + 3
 Why would we shoot a car?! lol You seems proud to be a redneck!
  • - 15
flag properp (Jun 21, 2015 at 19:14) (Below Threshold)
 Because old cars in the woods here are all full of bullet holes that makes me a readnek? I don't even own a gun. Looks like you are just a F##King idiot with no followers friends or bike skills.
  • + 5
 No because you said ''hmm dont they have guns there?'' and we all know what that means, especially when told by americans! lol Followers friends? Are you really trying to insult me with that?! haha Been here for some years but just created an account to sell a bike and my snowscoot.... Not for making internet friends you loser! hahaha I won't reply back so, good night mister!
  • + 6
 Whoa calm down guys. It did have a few bullet holes in it
  • + 1
 If it was in America that car would've looked like swiss cheese.
  • + 3
 By the way Lee, I'm pretty sure it's a '64 Chevelle, not a Falcon, no?

And yes we have guns here, but there's many designated ranges nearby. Most cyclists I know don't pack on their rides.
  • + 1
 doh! I glanced at the dashboard and blew it. Thanks for correction @Mieszko42
  • + 1
 Wait, someone is selling a snow scoot?
  • + 1
 Nice to see some normal riders like me for a change.
  • + 2
 Awesome locations.
  • + 1
 What a shitty job!
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