mountain biker in forest
Joe Roberts

A Weekend Itinerary to Bike and Eat Your Way Around Vernon

One of the best times of year to visit and explore North Okanagan is what we affably refer to as “The Shoulder Season”. September through to early November is a great transition between the hot summer months and the mild Okanagan winter. This is the best time of year if you enjoy a more quiet atmosphere; less crowded trails, wineries, restaurants, perfect riding temperature, and excellent trail conditions. 

We decided to double down and head to Vernon, BC for a weekend getaway! Van packed with mountain bikes and gravel bikes, the weekend was open for a fun adventure. 

Weather called for rain but we were treated with incredible sunshine and highs of 18°C — perfection for this time of year!

We met a friend at Ratio and put together a plan of where we wanted to ride. Ratio is by far one of the best places in Vernon to get coffee and pastries. These guys are devoted to their craft! The atmosphere is welcoming, subtle yet sophisticated and their customer service is top notch! On Saturday they do sticky buns and they hit it out of the park with the Nutella Sticky Bun!

coffee and cinnamon bun

Carb-ed up and sufficiently caffeinated, we headed out to do a gravel ride and explore the Grey Canal and Rail Trail. Grey Canal is a hiking, biking and horseback riding trail that follows the old and decommissioned Grey Canal irrigation system around Vernon. The Okanagan Rail Trail is a multi-use gravel path created by converting the former CN Rail line. The trail begins at the north end of Kalamalka Lake in Coldstream and goes south all the way to Kelowna, connecting three lakes with stunning hillside, vineyard, and orchard views at a grade of 1.5% over the 50KM one-way trip.

bikers on bike trail

We headed south bound on the Rail Trail and instead of doing an out and back we took the old Okanagan HWY on the way back for a 27KM Loop. This provided a great opportunity to see Kalamalka Lake and Rail Trail from higher up. As we descended down towards Kalamalka Lake and back into Coldstream my Garmin read 20°C. Sun was shining, no wind and the crystal clear lake was calling — I jumped in for a refreshing lake dip. Pleasantly surprised at how warm the water was, I didn't need to put on a brave face and for good measure, I went back in again.

By this time, we had built up a good appetite and were ready for a late lunch; or in our case, a brunch. There is nothing better than a place that serves all-day-breakfast and truthfully these types of eateries are hard to find. Eatology in Vernon does just that — all day breakfast, lunch options as well, and one of the best eggs benedict on hash browns I have ever had!

plated eggs benedict

Spending time outside, riding bikes, exploring, and taking impromptu lake dips is a full-on exhausting adventure! We needed a rest before dinner and thankfully we had requested an early check-in at Predator Ridge and they were happy to accommodate us. Predator Ridge is known for golfing, but there is so much more to the area; hiking trails surround the area, bird-watching pond, award-winning wineries nearby, a well-stocked market, and great restaurants!

After a refreshing siesta we explored the nearby Predator Ridge trails before our dinner reservation at Range Lounge & Grill. The trails are wide and well-marked and friendly to both hikers and bikers. The warm colours of the falling leaves from the nearby trembling aspens provided an incredible scenery and such an immersive experience.

bike riders celebrating
Joe Roberts

By the time the sun went down, we were ready for dinner and headed to Range Lounge & Grill. This quaint restaurant is within walking distance from the lodge and the trails we had just explored. The dinner was fantastic! Ingredients are locally sourced, the cuisine is simple, authentic and incredibly delicious. Their wine and beer list features local wineries, breweries and their customer service was excellent. 

Sunday was another full day of mountain biking! The mission was to explore the Predator Ridge trails to check out the famous rock slabs on The Mantle trail and after lunch head over to Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park trails. 

mountain biker going down trail
Joe Roberts

These two trail systems are so incredibly different it is worth the double ride. Each trail head has a detailed map clearly outlining trail difficulty; ranging from green, blue and black. TrailForks app is fantastic to reference where you are in real time, during the ride.

Ellison Provincial Park and Predator Ridge trails can be linked together and offer a large variety of terrain. Flowy double and single track, great views of Okanagan Lake, to more challenging rock rolls and steep granite slabs. This time of year is perfect to ride the moon-like terrain since traction is excellent.

mountain biker going down trail
Joe Roberts

With bellies full of thin crust pizza and a zesty salad from Pallino’s Italian Bistro, we headed to Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park or as the locals call it ‘Kal Park’. We headed up a flowy green trail that was a perfect warm up for the main climb; Stone Free. Ironically, Stone Free has many stones, rocky slabs, roots and is overall a demanding trail.

The north side of Kal Park trails are a bit more mellow, great for hiking, double track options with excellent views of Kalamalka Lake; whereas, the south side of this trail system (where we rode) is more suitable for those with solid mountain biking skills.

mountain biker going down trail
Joe Roberts

The south side trails offer flowy sections, tight switchbacks, rocky slabs, wooden bridges and a lot of natural features. There are a couple options to start descending and the trails are linked well together. Techy blue trails like Be Kind and Twista to flowy blue trails like Flovid and No Boats. For those wanting even a greater challenge and prefer black, steep, terrain there’s a good selection too (Trails: Fraidy Cat, 36, Big Ed). This is the loop we did and it was perfect for our skill set and fitness level.

two friends on viewpoint
Joe Roberts

This was a fantastic weekend get-away and we still are in disbelief this is our playground and these trails exist. Our accommodation at Predator Ridge was perfect and you cannot go wrong with the variety of dining options to choose from during your stay. We barely scratched the surface of things to explore in Vernon, but we’ll be back and quite possibly every weekend until the snow flies!

Article by
Emanuela Bandol
MTN/Gravel Bike Skills Coach & Guide