Riders drop into a chunky rock roll with the lake as their backdrop from the top lookout at Kelowna’s Knox Mountain Park. The Knox Mountain Trail Network is located minutes away from Downtown Kelowna, close to countless places to eat and drink, and currently boasts 45 trails listed on the Trail Forks app, 13 of them rated green, 18 rated blue, and 7 rated black.
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Lower Apex Trail Access
Knox Mountain Park is located minutes from Downtown Kelowna. To get to the parking lot at the base of the mountain, drive north up Ellis Street and stay on the road until you hit the parking lot!
What to Expect:
At Knox, accessibility does not come at the cost of quality trails. Knox has a great range of riding, from mellow cross-country trails like the Kathleen Lake Loop to Shale Trail: a gnarly top-to-bottom machine-built descent trail with rock rolls, fast berms, jumps, and drops. There are two options to get to the top: The Apex Trail is a relatively mellow climb with switchbacks that climb alongside sagebrush and long grass. Alternatively, some riders will opt to climb up Knox Mountain Drive, which has often been closed to vehicle traffic in recent years. For those who choose to climb up the road, be prepared for the lung buster of a hill after the first switchback, aptly named “The Knox Wall” on Strava. Once you’re up there, choose from one of the recommended rides below and prepare yourself to be highly jealous of the locals who have these trails in their backyard. Perhaps the best part about Knox is that the parking lot is right next to Okanagan Lake, so immediately after you finish your ride, you can jump in the water and cool off.
Recommended Beginner Ride
Knox Mountain Road
For beginners, it is recommended to start by climbing up the road. When you get to about the midway point, turn right off the road onto the Front Side Connector blue trail; from there, you can turn right onto Turtle Back Traverse for a fun climb with a great view of the city. Turtle Back Traverse connects to a brief descent on Return of the Turtles, bringing you back to a junction with the Front Side Connector. Continue right on Frontside Connector until you reach the Kathleen Lake Loop. Follow the Lake loop until you reach another intersection, take the green climb marked Clifton Ridge Trail and enjoy a quick cross-country descent in the same direction you came down the Clifton Ridgeline. The Clifton Ridgeline trail has a few small rock features and one short but punchy climb in the middle, but it is a ton of fun! After the Clifton Ridgeline, turn right onto Kathleen Lake Loop and return to the road. If you are looking for more challenge after reaching the road, you may choose to ride the blue flow descent called Simpson Trail; otherwise, for beginners, riding the road back down to the parking lot is recommended.
Recommended Intermediate Ride
Choose between the road or the Apex Trail to reach the top. For those who choose the Apex Climb, you will connect back to the road via the Boyce Trail and ride the road the rest of the way up. Once at the top, take the Balsamroot Bluff Loop for a fun climb and descent with one challenging crux section about mid-way through that is steep and can be loose. After completing the loop, head onto Simpson Trail and enjoy high-quality machine-built flow. Simpson Trail is full of tables, hips, doubles, and fast berms! Simpson Trail naturally transitions into the mellower sections of the Shale Trail until it hits a road crossing. After the road crossing, there are a couple of braids in the trail that are marked blue and black. The blue section is recommended for Intermediate riders and is labelled as Shale Trail on the Trailforks app but is often called “The Berms” by locals. While the name may say enough about what to expect on the trail, the berms get tighter as you get closer to the bottom and are known to be intimidating for beginner riders.
Recommended Advanced Ride
Drop into Shale Trail
Choose between the road or the Apex Trail to reach the top of the mountain. For those who choose the Apex Climb, you will connect back to the road via the Boyce Trail and ride the road the rest of the way up. Once at the top, take the Lookout Access Trail to the top of the Shale Trail. The drop into Shale is a big rock roll with multiple lines leading into a steep, loose section. It is recommended to get off the bike and scope your line before dropping in. From there, the trail flattens out and gets fast as it leads into a rock drop with a big compression transitioning into a big ol’ step-up jump. Some riders will opt to ride around the step-up via Boyce Trail and Not the Canyon Trail. After the big step up, a mix of jumps, drops and berms with optional ride-arounds can all be ridden at high speed. After the confluence with Simpson Trail, things briefly mellow until you reach the road crossing. Once you pass the road crossing, advanced riders will often take the black line Shale Trail Direct, often called “The Rock Rolls” by locals. Shale Trail Direct starts with two big but relatively mellow rock rolls before coming to another junction with the blue line. If the first two rock rolls were at the edge of your comfort zone, taking the blue line from this junction is recommended because Shale Trail Direct gets a little more spicy. Next on Shale Trail Direct is a big double rock roll line with loads of loose shale in the ride-out, making good brake control a necessity. It is recommended to get off the bike and scope your line before dropping in, as there are a few different line options. Finally, there is another junction between the blue and black sections of Shale Trail, and advanced riders who felt comfortable on the first two rock rolls will be good to ride the final black line: a long but not too steep section of chunky rock that takes you back to the road.
Knox Mountain Park is a not-so-hidden gem that is thoroughly enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. The killer trails and close proximity to downtown make it the perfect spot for a quick ride. After the ride, travel by bike to one of the nearby breweries for a bite and drink in Kelowna’s North End, or head downtown to one of the many restaurants on the character-filled street, Bernard Avenue. And if you are coming from out of town, there are countless places to stay, ranging from campgrounds such as Bear Creek Provincial Park to high-end luxury hotels such as the Delta Grand Hotel.