BC Parks guest blog post by Dudley Coulter, North Okanagan Cycling Society
Hailing from the flatlands of Ontario, it was hard to imagine a place like this existed; a place that not only recognizes trail building as an invaluable asset to the community, but encouraged it. Mountain biking is not only alive in the Greater Vernon area – it is thriving.
The fun doesn’t stop off the bike either. North Okanagan Cycling Society (NOCS) volunteers and other trail users put in more than 25 trail days last season throughout three main areas in the region; Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park; Ellison Provincial Park and; Silver Star Provincial Park. Typically, trail days consist of mountain bike enthusiasts and other trail users, young and old, working together for the betterment of our community’s outdoor recreational experience. Trail users are educated on how to build new trails and maintain old trails so that they are sustainable and up to the ‘Whistler Standard’. This practice not only ensures park users are safe, but also that the trails are made for reduced environmental impact and longevity that allows them to be enjoyed by generations to come.
At ‘Ellison’, parallel to Lake Okanagan, families can stay in the campground and ride beginner to intermediate trails right from the tent. On the shores of Greater Vernon’s other pond, Kalamalka Lake, lies ‘Kal Park’, a local favourite where locals can take in the lake and valley views from the ‘Lookout Loop’ after work or venture up to ‘Big Ed’ with friends for a truly imaginable ride. High above town at Silver Star Provincial Park lays the newly built ‘Sovereign’ network of trails that allow riders to feast their eyes on the bountiful alpine woodland and its (wild) inhabitants.
Although the eyes of NOCS are set on a wide variety of new trails for the future, one loop is elevated above the rest. ‘Honest Ed’ is a loop that mountain bikers will travel from far and wide to ride. The loop will utilize popular existing trails with the addition of new climbs and descents to avoid any FSR for an epic, ear to ear grinning ride that will have people gossiping from Vernon to Vancouver and beyond. This loop treats riders to breathtaking valley views and challenging trails to brag about.
In 2015, the North Okanagan Cycling Society (NOCS) saw more than 600 members, attracted 120 youth into the Sprockids Program and saw 25 Thursday Night Toonie Rides take place. With over 3500 hours of documented volunteer labour last season, it is no wonder why the mountain bike culture in Greater Vernon is so alive.