Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two – Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park

Oct 12, 2016 at 20:26
by Lee Lau  

Cross country riding in Sovereign Lakes, Silver Star Provincial Park.

In part one we looked at some private trails in Silver Star and public trails around the Predator Ridge area. There's a ton of riding choices in the Vernon/North Okanagan area. To get a taste for an area we hadn't explored we met Matt Ball to show us around Sovereign Lakes. This is an area located in a provincial park with trails side by side and weaving in and out of XC ski trails. The trail history here is one of unsanctioned trails built for downhillers that got adopted into a formal trail system. It's quite the testament both to BC Parks (Okanagan) and to the locals that this happy understanding came about.



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And this is where we come to Matt, who is the President of NOCS (North Okanagan Cycling Society) the club which maintains the public trails in the Vernon area. Along with Claudia Sorensen, Matt is also one of the principal trail builders in Sovereign; a busy guy and one of the heart-and-soul advocates who gets things done for trails that you will ride and which will blow your mind. In short, while riding Sovereign we navigated 'old' 1 to 4-year-old trails that had an amazing diversity of technical challenge both up and down. Even the older trails were true narrow singletrack carpeted in pine needles interspersed with rocky rolls and roots.

NOCS has trail building and maintenance dialled and has been able to build trails in the last 3 years with permission from the Provincial Parks in large part due to the efforts of Matt, David B, Mark D, Claudia, Cam, the builders at Olympia Cycle and countless other volunteers. The current NOCS effort is to fundraise for signs to help navigate the exceptionally confusing and intricately laid out Sovereign network. You can use Trailforks to get around but even so, trust me - signs would come in handy.

To help NOCS with fundraising donate through Trailforks to North Okanagan Cycling Society.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
Matt and Lee at the entrance.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
Matt on Rock is the new Berm.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
Fall colours just starting to get in play as Sharon plays on Rock is the new Berm.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
Nice socks Matt.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
Skinnies on Shy Turtle. Worth a redo when it's dry(er). Currently being worked on by the Olympia crew.


Kalamalka Provincial Park

As you drive down Hwy 97 approaching Vernon you will see a distinctive blue lake. This is Kalamalka Lake; a Provincial Park that allows mountain biking and which cooperates with mountain bikers eager to do trail work and maintain existing trails - Hallelujah! NOCS has an agreement with BC Parks to build and maintain trails in the area. This partnership has borne fruit in that the Kal Lake area has some incredible trails within the vicinity of Vernon. Not only are there short loops suitable for quick rides; there are long epic-style ride possibilities.  NOCS and countless volunteers work on the Kal Lake trails but a special shout out is due to Ernie Bru and his crew especially for the work on the Pali Gap trail

We like to access the park from Kidston Rd in Coldstream, a small town North of the lake. There are two areas to park outside the Provincial Park parking lot. Pictured below is one of the areas with the BC Parks Kiosk. You can also park at the end of Cosens Bay Road off Coldstream Rd. Be aware that the parking areas haven't caught up with the popularity of the trails especially on summer weekends. Luckily we are on bikes and can park a distance away and pedal to trailheads. For the purposes of this trip we did a short scenic route (the aptly named Lookout Trail), described below.

You can also ride a 4-6 hour epic which includes a significant climb on singletrack described here as the Kal Lake Epic (which includes 31.2kms of 90% singletrack and 1970m of climbing - ouch). Pictures from the Kal Lake Epic are in a separate blog post; You can do all sorts of variations in Kal Lake which overlay portions of the BC Enduro Series courses (described here). Diversity and choices are the name of the game in Kal Lake.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
Kidston Road parking lot.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
View of Kalamalka Lake on the descent to Cosens Bay.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
Riding up the Grasslands with a Kal Lake background. This would suck on a hot sunny day. as there's little shade.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
The climb up The Wall was not that bad, especially for the reward!.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
Dropping.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
The entire trail is a showcase for shooting in the golden hour.


Accommodations

We stayed at the Lodge in Predator Ridge. This dog-friendly hotel offers excellent service plus well stocked and comfortable rooms. They even have a valet that will take your bikes and secure them safely! It's well worth mentioning yet again that the resort has true bike trails right from the door and chipped in to build the Ellison Connector trail that connects the resort to the Ellison Provincial Park trail system. Predator Ridge also supports NOCS by way of sponsoring toonie races.

Predator Ridge might look like your classic real estate and golf course tourist conurbation but take a deep breath. They truly get biking and they want to bring in and support biking. Additionally, there's a lot going on here for non-biking family members. There are all sorts of outdoor and indoor facilities plus activities for kids. Pretty much a turn-key setup for getaways.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
Even Ophelia was impressed with the bike valet!.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
Spacious rooms, soaker tub, nice patio and easy walking trails for your dog.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
Deck views and place to chill.


Food

At the Predator Ridge Resort, they have a very nice restaurant with an amazing patio, the Range Lounge and Grill. The food here is very good, but not for budget travelers (but did we mention it's oh-so-good!). They also have a store (the Commonage Market), which has soups, sandwiches, coffee, and other sundry items you may need. They have food there too that you can buy and cook in your room - perfect for budget options. The only thing which is lacking is a BBQ; that would be perfect for those summer or warm fall evenings.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part Two Sovereign Lakes and Kalamalka Park
The Range's patio with a view of the golf course.


Maps from Trailforks

Sovereign Lakes


Kalamalka Park - Lookout Trail



MENTIONS: @leelau / @trailforks

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19 Comments

  • + 26
 So there are normal human-beans out there riding their bikes like I do and I was afraid that in the PB planet everybody was riding in supersonic speeds and rarely touch the ground,
  • + 4
 That'll be phase2...DH/Jump line straight down over all the switchbacks. With a bunch of 'Yield' signs for the slow-mo switchback riders...after they acquire sign funding of course. I kid! I kid!...hehe
  • + 5
 Human-beans, haha! Love it
  • + 4
 Rode Kal lake for the first time quite a few years, last year. Such a great trail network. Vernon has amazing trails. The Okanagan has a huge amount of super good trails. Anybody looking for a destinatioon vacation should check it out. Great story.
  • + 3
 Lots else to ride we didnt get to check out. In particular missed the Noble Canyon system. Not quite enough time. So much volunteer work being put in by so many people. Super strong community in the area
  • + 3
 Nobles is the best!
  • + 3
 Another great article, thanks guys! Just an FYI to all for the Honest Ed loop (Kal Lake Epic as named in article) I'm not sure what device was used but the vertical seems a little on the high side, I have done it many times with adding extra loops and I've never had it with 1900m of climbing unless I put together a 50Km loop. If just doing the loop from Cosens Bay parking lot, it's usually 27ish Km and about 1200m climbing. Go to the lake (highly suggested) and it's about 30Km and maybe 1300-1400m.
  • + 2
 Thanks @jmart. Used a Suunto Ambit and Garmin GPS 62s. We both thought the elevations were off but just stuck the charts in
  • + 2
 Glad you got a chance to ride Spankys. Its an awesome OG trail, but largely built on private land, with a new land owner. So access is a bit touchy right now.
  • + 3
 Were shown a little new loop bypassing the private land survey stakes so hopefully all that will get sorted out
  • + 2
 Sweet!, Some home town trail coverage. There is a good trail system going on
  • + 2
 gum walls are sick
  • + 1
 Look out trail is a fun ride
  • + 1
 Thanks for sharing Lee!
  • + 1
 Coolio
  • + 0
 why is the filmers bike always in the shot?
  • + 0
 I miss the NorthEast
  • + 1
 My bad, NW
  • + 0
 North West..

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