BC Parks guest blog post by Dudley Coulter, North Okanagan Cycling Society
Not much of a ‘shoulder season’ in Vernon provides ample opportunity for trail development…
There are early signs of spring in Greater Vernon, and the North Okanagan Cycling Society (NOCS) couldn’t be more excited.
Spring in Greater Vernon, and more specifically, Kalamalka Lake and Ellison Provincial Parks, is highly anticipated amongst mountain bikers. It represents more than just a changing of seasons, but new opportunities to get outside and ‘get after it’. Spring in these Provincial Parks makes it easy for mountain bikers, runners, hikers and equestrians to achieve their new year’s resolutions of being more physically active and enjoying the great outdoors. However, all of these activities require trails that are well-maintained, and easily accessible by the general public.
NOCS is a major contributor to trail development and maintenance in the area, and strives to provide high quality trails for use by a wider variety of park users. This includes all of the aforementioned activities, but more specifically mountain biking catering to a large spectrum of skill levels. In the fall of 2015, the lower section of ‘Gingerly’ was constructed, a beginner-level trail that winds its way down to Kalamalka Lake providing access to the Cosens Creek trail network for riders of all abilities while avoiding the use of Cosens Bay Road. Last year ‘Cougar Trap’ was constructed, a trail that not only makes more space at the lower (more crowded) parking lot by encouraging the use of a different one, but also makes trails that are further afield more accessible to the average mountain biker.
The sport of mountain biking has grown so much in the North Okanagan over the last five years, that even a large-scale resort development is sold on the idea of it. Last year, the ‘Ellison Connector’ was constructed to better serve residents and guests of the Predator Ridge development and provides access into the trail system at Ellison Provincial Park. This, combined with Ellison Provincial Park Campground makes it a great place to ride or hike into, with lake and valley views, and even a beer at the top if you make it to Predator Ridge!
Although not usually ready to ride until late spring, Silver Star Provincial Park had undergone some major changes, with over 30km added in the last couple of years in the Sovereign Lake area. The potential in this area is limitless, and locals and enthusiasts alike are taking notice.
You see, there really is only one type of trail user in Greater Vernon. Sure, there is the guy on the chairlift begging for winter to be over, the anxious girl on her laptop browsing the latest bike gear, and the colleague who travels far south every February to ride their bike – but everyone shares the same passion. That passion is to get outside and enjoy everything our Provincial Parks have to offer, and to also turn that passion into fuel for constructing ‘Whistler Standard’ trails to suit a variety of users and abilities.
In 2016, over 100 NOCS members volunteered about 2,500 hours of their time to make our surroundings fun, safe and accessible. North Okanagan Cycling Society (NOCS), is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing positive trail experiences for mountain bikers in the North Okanagan. NOCS builds, maintains, protects and is an advocate for trails in the area. NOCS is the voice for mountain biking in the North Okanagan.