Our favourite cycling days are ones with warm sunny weather and great scenery. We love to take time to explore interesting sites and visit inviting cafes and eateries. Sure the route could be done in one sweaty hour, but we prefer to savour the experience, taking two or three hours. And there is no place better than the North Okanagan for such indulgent and interesting cycling!
On a cloudless Wednesday morning we pedal east on Okanagan Landing Road and cross Highway 97. Toddlers are squealing with delight in the playground as we pass through Polson Park, getting an early start on what promises to be another hot fall day. We continue through the south end of the park along the boardwalk over a sluggish Vernon Creek and pop out onto 14th Avenue and then onto Kalamalka Road, passing by a quiet Kal beach.
Taking Kalavista Drive we pass some palatial lakefront homes and turn onto Kirkland Drive to discover a little public beach and playground empty except for some ducks. Continuing up Postill Drive we hook onto Kidston Road and strain to climb the hill up to Mackie Lake House then pause at Sovereign Park. The hot sun lures us to the beach, which is empty and quiet.
We then turn down Coldstream Creek Road and peer into a tangle of bushes at the end of the road. The sign, “Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary,” is partially hidden and advises us to call ahead, but we meet Aaron Deans, the caretaker, and he assures us the public is welcome. We sign the guest book, take a pamphlet and begin a self-guided tour. The sanctuary was established by Lydia Bishop, an old time Coldstream resident “for the benefit of wild creatures and the entertainment and education of small groups.” The garden is full of native plants and alive with the jabber of birds and flutter of butterflies.
After the solitude of the garden, we mount our bikes and climb up Coldstream Road through orchards of apples and pears, then coast down to cross the Coldstream Creek and turn north to link into Kalamalka Road. We soon stop at Friesen’s Countrytyme Gardens, part orchard and part bakery/restaurant. We tuck into bowls of Russian borscht and fat cheese scones, relaxing on the shaded patio before heading west on Kalamalka Road.
At Aberdeen Road we steer right, stopping just before the rail crossing at Bob Kingsmill Pottery Studio. Here beside a babbling creek and beds bursting with flowers is a gallery adorned with masks, wall murals and whimsical but functional pottery. Bob will greet you warmly (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) when he is not at his gallery on Granville Island in Vancouver, but it’s best to phone ahead to avoid disappointment (250-549-4615).
We continue up Aberdeen, turn left onto Middleton Drive and right on Sarsons Road which connects with Middleton Way. A short cruise down 11th Avenue returns us to Kalamalka Road and we retrace our tracks back through Polson Park and home via Okanagan Avenue. After our leisurely 30 km, three-hour outing we return home refreshed, well-fed and inspired by the North Okanagan’s natural beauty and the pottery of an outstanding local artist.
Moira McColl is a freelance writer and cycling enthusiast in Vernon. This is the third in her six-part Urban Wanderer series on cycling in the area, with the hope that it will encourage locals and visitors alike to explore the North Okanagan on two wheels.