Photos & Article by Bee Wasnock - Keremeos BC
These four rides range from just over two hours to over 5 hours on the road. You can start anywhere on these routes and they will bring you back to where you started. You’ll travel through valleys, along rivers and lakes, through orchards and vineyards galore. You’ll be tempted to stop at many spots along the way – for the view, to take some pictures, to sample some fruit, to cool off in one of the many lakes or to enjoy a good meal. For the purposes of this write up we'll start and end at Penticton.
If you empty your saddle bags before you leave and stop along the way to enjoy what the area has to offer you could arrive home at the end of the day with your bags filled with freshly picked fruit, Okanagan cheeses, delicious breads baked in wood fired ovens and fantastic local wines or ales to enjoy with all of it. As you ride, watch for eagles and hawks soaring along your route, mountain sheep and goats scampering on the cliffs above you, deer, bears, cattle, horses and an amazing array of orchards and vineyards, fruit stands and wineries.
THE BASIC CIRCLE TOUR:
Heading south out of Penticton, take Hwy 97 up above Skaha Lake about 10 kms to the Princeton/ Vancouver turn off - proceed right onto Hwy 3a and enjoy the 35 kms of twisties through to Keremeos. Then at Keremeos - top of the hill - gas station on your right - just after you slow to 50 k/h - take a left hand turn and head south-west to Osoyoos on Hwy 3. Wind your way through vineyards, orchards and ranches and take some time to literally smell the flowers. At Osoyoos you head north again on Hwy 97 and travel through Oliver to Okanagan Falls. Take time to have some great Ice Cream at Tickleberries http://www.tickleberrys.com/about.htm and then watch the signs as you go through OK Falls - you'll want to stay on Main St. - do not make the left to Hwy 97. When you get near to the lake on Main street - take the last turn to the right - go two blocks and then take a left on Eastside Road. This great road takes you back to Penticton on the East side of Skaha Lake and you will arrive in Penticton with no further directions.
This route could take just a little over two hours if you blast on through - BUT - if you take the time to explore, stop at a fruit stand or two, visit a vineyard and take a lunch break at one of the many pubs and restaurants along the route - you'll have a fantastic few hours in the Okanagan sun.
If it is July/August, don't forget to wear sunscreen and drink lots of water - temps are 30 to 40 c. and it can be blistering out there.
MAP DETAILS – BASIC CIRCLE TOUR – 2 HOURS AND 13 MINUTES
To make it a longer day, you can extend it in several ways
1. INCLUDE HEDLEY:
When you get to Keremeos do not turn left at the top of the hill – instead, continue straight through and down the hill into town to cruise through downtown Keremeos - grab a coffee with other riders at the K-Café – then travel east out through the Similkameen Valley to Historic Hedley - At Hedley you can stop in to the Museum or make plans to tour the historic Mascot Mines. It is a great photo spot. Visit the Gold Dust Pub on your way there or back - http://www.golddusthedleypub.com/index.html Great meals and great service. When travelling back pass through Keremeos again and on to Osoyoos via Hwy 3. .
MAP DETAILS – 3 HOURS 2 MINUTES ON THE ROAD - 223 kms
|The Gold Dust Pub|
|The Historic Mining town of Hedley|
2. INCLUDE HEDLEY AND NIGHT HAWK, USA:
Just before Osoyoos (watch for the small sign NIGHT HAWK US Border), you can turn south (right) over the border to Night Hawk and then travel east to Oroville Washington before turning north again to head up through Osoyoos, Oliver and Okanagan Falls. Then continue on taking Eastside road on the far side of Skaha Lake to return to Penticton. Just a nice little dip into the states. Night Hawk is a small border crossing.
* Remember you MUST have a passport to travel into the US.
3 HOURS 37 MINUTES ON THE ROAD – 242 Kms
3. INCLUDE HEDLEY, NIGHT HAWK, ROCK CREEK AND KELOWNA:
This one takes you east from Osoyoos on Hwy # 3 to Rock Creek then north on Hwy #33 to Beaverdell and on to Kelowna before turning south again to Penticton. As you travel up picturesque Hwy 33, stop at the rider friendly Beaverdell Hotel and enjoy their hospitality before heading north again to Kelowna. At Kelowna you will come to the junction of hwy 33 and Hwy 97 – turn left (south) at Hwy 97 and travel through Kelowna then cross over Lake Okanagan and continue south to Penticton.
5 HRS 26 MINS ON THE ROAD – 418 kms
All routes will take you through lake country, multiple farming valleys, desert, forests and mountains. Enjoy!