Ride: Skaha Lake Loop

This bike loop gets a fair amount of mentions in Penticton tourism and hotel websites but not a lot of information is easy to find, like is it actually a bike loop? Where should someone park? What is the road and trail condition like?

This week we took a day trip to Penticton to find out!

strava map showing the full loop

We did this ride on our ebikes (they are leisure/commuter ones: city tires (not skinny or mountain bike) and no suspension). More on trail conditions below.

We started the ride by parking at Skaha Beach Park (by the washrooms and Tickleberry’s on the Beach) in Penticton and then rode around the park for a few minutes to get over to Lakeside Road. At the end of the ride we realized there is a path that connects to Lakeside right at the end of the parking lot. (Red arrows show where we parked and then the connection to Lakeside Road through the park).

map showing an arrow pointing to parking

Lakeside Road is a paved, two lane road with varying widths of shoulder/bike lane. If you go on Tuesdays, be aware that it is garbage day for the residents so you’ll be sharing the shoulder with the garbage bins. Drivers were really good about not passing too closely which was nice. Lakeside Road eventually turns in to Eastside Road (perhaps when the city limits switch from Penticton to Okanagan Falls?).

This section of the road is also part of Corkscrew Drive, a route designed to take people to a number of wineries in the Okanagan Falls region (you can check that out here). This section is hilly and curvy so watch for vehicles (and hopefully they also watch for you!)

The scenery is great and if you wanted to/had the legs for it (or an ebike) you could do a quick trip up to a few of the wineries on the way.

paved road winding along the lake
Lakeside Road and the view down the lake towards Okanagan Falls.
farm scene with grape vines and barn with blue roof in the distance
One of the many vineyards and farms that we passed on the way.

We didn’t stop for any tastings this day and instead carried on downhill in to Okanagan Falls to connect with the second half of the loop and the KVR Trail. Signage for the KVR is up in OK Falls, but if you don’t see it (some signs were on the opposite side of the posts than we were looking at) just keep heading along the lake towards the highway, it’s a pretty small town so hard to get lost. The one place that we could have used a sign was the actual entrance to the trail, you do enter the trail system through Lions Garden Path even though it looks like a footpath through garden. Once in the park, you can’t miss it – just aim towards the trestle bridge!

We stopped before the bridge for a snack on one of the benches and enjoyed the view. This also let a bunch of walkers cross the bridge before we hopped on with our bikes. This bridge is narrower than the ones up at Myra Canyon so a bit less room for bikes and walkers to pass each other (there is room, it’s just tight).

View of Skaha Lake.
Looking down the lake towards Penticton.

After the bridge the trail is wide enough to ride side by side – keeping an eye out and moving to single file when met with oncoming traffic. This part of the trail is hard packed gravel, so pretty easy riding.

Pathway along the lake
Wide enough to ride side by side, hard pack gravel makes this stretch a breeze.

It’s smooth sailing until you get to Kaleden. The trail doesn’t seem to connect in one line through Kalenden so there was a bit of guess work until we saw another KVR with an arrow sign.

We did stop to take some pictures at the old Kalenden Hotel so it was a good little detour through town.

old concrete building shell.
Old Kaleden Hotel.

After Kalenden the trail gets a bit smaller and more over run, eventually turning into more of a single track experience. It was a bit squishy when we met some oncoming cyclists but we managed with out either group ending up in the bush (or the lake).

showing a narrower trail with trees and brush on either side
A more open section of the single track trail.

The KVR ends at Wrights Beach Camp and here’s where things get interesting. There is no trail to connect this part of the adventure. You have to ride along Highway 97 for about a kilometre.

For the most part there is a shoulder, although the day we did the ride the sand had blown up from the beach making sizable dunes which were not great for bike tire traction. The shoulder pretty much disappears at the traffic lights so if you are travelling this with kids (or uneasy cyclists) be aware of that.

Map showing the section of highway that must be ridden on.
Red line shows the section where you are riding on Highway 97. Minimal to zero shoulder is available so ride with caution!

This was a 30km ride and it took us just over two hours using minimal pedal assist (except for that highway part, we used allllll the pedal assist for that). This would be a challenging ride without an ebike, it starts with paved, curvy, hilly sections (and the day we went was also very windy so we battled that as well on the road section). Then morphs into hard packed gravel, then the single track and then back to paved. Definitely not road bike material.

Over all yes this is a loop but marketing it as an easy of family friendly cycle loop is a bit misleading.

We ended the ride with a quick trip into Penticton for lunch there are a lot of great choices but on this day we stopped at Cannery Brewing. Nice open space with parking close by so you can keep an eye on your bikes.

Picture of a pint glass with Cannery Brewing logo.
Pretty hard to beat a Radler after a bike ride – refreshing combination of Lager and grapefruit juice.

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