When The Boy was visiting from Hungary, we did a little road trip into the interior of British Columbia for a little wine, a lot of sun and some exploring. For a bit of exercise and activity, we headed to the Myra Canyon to check out the trestle bridges.
The Myra Canyon Trestle Bridges, located an hour drive from the city of Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley, offers scenic views of the city and Okanagan Lake. The paths and bridges in located along the Myra Canyon were originally a part of the Kettle Valley Railway and features 18 wooden trestle bridges and two tunnels along a 12 km route end to end.
Originally, the railroad was built in the early 1900s as a means of connecting the southern interior of British Columbia to the coast for mining purposes. The Chief Engineer of the project, Andrew McCulloch, managed to construct a railway directly through the Myra Canyon by following its horseshoe shape using trestle bridges, several thousand feet above the canyon floor.
The building of the trestle bridges was declared a feat of engineering and the Kettle Valley Railway became known as “McCulloch’s Wonder”.
The construction and positioning of the trestles greatly minimize the amount of rock excavation that would otherwise have been require to route a railway through the canyon. This section of the railway was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2002.
It is hard to imagine that at one point in time, trains ran the length of the pathways that we were now walking. The path seemed impossibly thin and too difficult for a cumbersome train to navigate all the twists and turns along the mountain cliffs.
However, in 2003, a massive fire ravaged this area of the province. Even though it was 10 years ago, I can still remember the news reports and the intensity of the fire that spread through here. I was in Vancouver, but the destruction was played out for all to see in the news. Even today, you can see the remnants of the destruction of the surrounding forest.
Since then, volunteers have worked hard to rebuild the 12 trestles that were destroyed by the fire. You can see where the old meets the new. Throughout the park you can read about the railway’s history and the restoration process in the past 10 years.
Each of the bridges vary in length. Some are short and others are much longer, curving along the side of the canyon. Often, the longer bridges have areas that jut out of the bridge, over the canyon. At first, I thought that they were viewing platforms, built for the many visitors, but they are actually places for water barrels in case of fire along the bridge.
It’s a long way down! All of the bridges felt very secure. It was more of a mind over matter thing. There are some open spots between planks of wood, but nothing big enough that your foot would go through.
Along the way we spotted Inuksuks built with nearby rocks. Can you see it below among all the rocks?
I had a lot of fun wandering around the various trestle bridges. It is astounding to imagine workers putting together these bridges and the railway back in the 1900s. The whole route is so high up and so dangerous. Next time I’d rent a bike and try to go from one end to the other. You can check out more photos on my Flickr.
- Bring water if you’re going in the summer. It gets HOT in the Okanagan.
- Along the same lines, wear a hat. There is little shade and you’ll be happy that you did.
- If you plan of walking a long distance, bring along a snack or a light meal. There were benches along the route here and there, or you could perch on a nearby rock for a little snack.
- There are no washrooms on the route – only at the parking lots on either end.
- We went to Myra Station and started at Trestle #18, but you could also go from the other side as well.
- The drive up can be a little worrisome. We didn’t see many cars on the way up and it seemed like we were all on our own. The road is also really rocky, bumpy and at times, steep, so make sure you have the right kind of car.
- Be careful of the others on the route. While signs posted tell bikers to give pedestrians the right of way, many the day we visited, didn’t.
- Save a map of the route to your phone or print it out.
- Remember: garbage in, garbage out. Don’t leave your trash.
Have you explored a region like this? Tell me about it!