Nestled between the rock-ribbed bluffs just to your right as you cross the bridge to West Kelowna is a gem for mountain bikers and hikers. It’s a place with interesting rock formations, steep terrain, several kilometres of ridgeline trails, and many exciting loops to ride. The ridgelines are made more spectacular by the peaceful reflective reservoir that splits the park down the middle. It’s the home to many species of birds and different ecosystems. Rose Valley Reservoir is what makes all the rewarding ridgetop views distinctive and breathtaking.
Fall is a colourful time of year to visit the premier park in West Kelowna. The warm glow of fall’s embrace seems to give the forest a new type of life with the dwindling daylight and the crisp, refreshing air. Yellow and orange leaves pad the singletrack creating a breathtaking gold path to explore.
I like to start my ride near Rose Valley Elementary school. The park is well signed with maps at every big junction. Wind your way up to the top of the first bluff via any of the trails from behind the school. I love the Rock Slab Trail at the top because there’s the first lookout point: a view of downtown Kelowna and Okanagan Lake. The great thing about Rose Valley is that all of the lookout points have a bench to rest and enjoy the views and solitude.
Continue on and you’ll have several options. My favourite is the Bear Bones Trail. It’s technical with steep rocky descents carved into the side of the mountain and the views are spectacular on the ridge. Another option is to descend down Cattywumpuss Trail and do a more relaxed loop around the reservoir. It winds around the water next to reed-lined sections of shore to the other side of the park. With either option, you can climb up to top of the first bluff in the majestic shadow of McDougall Rim.
From there, you can choose your own adventure. If you dare to take on the double black diamond rated City On the Edge of Forever Trail, you’ll find steep switchbacks that’ll put hair on your chest as you try to remind yourself that riding white-knuckled doesn’t help anyone! If you want to feel fully present and love navigating rock gardens, cruise down JabbaRocky and Rock Candy Trails. Both trails are lined with fantastic deciduous bushes and trees that glow brightly in the fall light. If you like steep turns and skree fields, brave the No Left Turn Descent Trail!
Here are some links on my Strava page to some of my favourite loops at Rose Valley:
After you finish your ride and feel rejuvenated from the treats of Rose Valley’s Trails, stop by Red Bird Brewing or Kettle River Brewing for a few local post ride microbrews with your friends and plan your next ride! Check out Crawford Trails for more amazing fall riding and perfectly grippy dirt! If you’re hungry and want something more upscale, go to RauDZ or Waterfront Wines. The cocktails are unreal! Want something more low key? Antico Pizza Napoletana is as Italian and authentic as it gets. Sit at the high top tables and eat one of the most flavorful pizzas and best dough you’ve ever tasted! They even use a special type of flour they import from Italy (and also sell it in the restaurant should you decide to have a pizza night at home and want to make your own dough!)
Fall in Kelowna is one of the most special times of year and experiencing it in the forest on all of the great singletrack trails is the best way to soak it in before winter coaxes the spirited forest into hibernation and you have to pull out your skis or fat bike!
Trailforks is a free app you can also download that has ever trail, the difficulty level, photos, a trail elevation profile, and a live GPS feed of where you currently are located on the trail system. Click here to get the app: trailforks.com/apps/map/
Sonya Looney is a World Champion Professional Mountain Biker based in Kelowna. When she's not riding all of Kelowna's great singletrack, she is hosting her podcast: The Sonya Looney Show and travelling and racing around the globe, and touring as a motivational speaker.