Sovereign and Kal Lake
Cross country riding in Sovereign Lakes, Silver Star Provincail Park.
We met Matt Ball to show us around Sovereign Lakes. This is an area located in a provincial park with trails side by side and weaving in and out of XC ski trails. The trail history here is one of unsanctioned trails built for downhillers that got adopted into a formal trail system. It’s quite the testament both to BC Parks of this area and to the local trailbuilders that this happy understanding came about.
And this is where we come to Matt, who is the President of NOCS who maintains the public trails in the Vernon area. Along with Claudia Sorensen, Matt is also one of the principal trailbuilders in Sovereign – busy guy and one of the heart-and-soul advocates who gets things done for trails that you will ride and which will blow your mind. In short, while riding Sovereign we navigated ‘old’ 1 to 4 year old trails that had an amazing diversity of technical challenge both up and down. Even the older trails were true narrow singletrack carpeted in pine needles interspersed with rocky rolls and roots.
NOCS has trailbuilding and maintenance dialled and has been able to build trails in the last 3 years with permission from the Provincial Parks in large part due to the efforts of Matt, David B, Mark D, Claudia, Cam, the builders at Olympia Cycle and countless other volunteers. The current NOCS effort is to fundraise for signs to help navigate the exceptionally confusing and intricately laid out Sovereign network. You can use Trailforks to get around but even so, trust me – signs would come in handy. To help NOCS with fundraising donate through Trailforks so North Okanagan Cycling Society.
Matt and Lee at the entrance
Lee on Raw Bones
Rock is the new Berm
Rock is the new Berm
On Rock is the new Berm
Dropping in on the beginning of fall colours on Spanky’s
Some old school remnants still on Spanky’s
As you drive down Hwy 97 approaching Vernon you will see a distinctive blue lake. This is Kalamalka Lake; a Provincial Park that allows mountain biking and which cooperates with mountain bikers eager to do trailwork and maintain existing trails – Hallelujah! NOCS has an agreement with BC Parks to build and maintain trails in the area. This partnership has borne fruit in that the Kal Lake area has some incredible trails within the vicinity of Vernon. Not only are there short loops suitable for quick rides; there are long epic-style ride possibilities. NOCS and countless volunteers work on the Kal Lake trails but a special shout out is due to Ernie Bru and his crew especially for the work on the Pali Gap trail
We like to access the park from Kidston Rd in Coldstream, a small town North of the lake. There are two areas to park outside the Provincial Park parking lot. Pictured below is one of the areas with the BC Parks Kiosk. You can also park at the end of Cosens Bay Road off Coldstream Rd. Be aware that the parking areas haven’t caught up with the popularity of the trails especially on summer weekends. Luckily we are on bikes and can park a distance away yet pedal to trailheads. For the purposes of this trip we did a short scenic route (the aptly named Lookout Trail), described below.
You can also ride a 4-6 hour epic which includes a significant climb on single track described here as the Kal Lake Epic (which includes 31.2kms of 90% singletrack and 1970m of climbing – ouch). Pictures from the Kal Lake Epic are in a separate blog post; You can do all sorts of variations in Kal Lake which overlay portions of the BC Enduro Series courses (described here). Diversity and choices are the name of the game in Kal Lake.
Kidston Road parking lot
View of Kalamalka Lake.
Nice climb in the Grasslands, this would suck on a hot sunny day.
The climb up The Wall was not that bad, especially for the reward!
On the Lookout
On the Lookout
Lookout Trail is a nice ride.
View from the Tombstones on the Kal Lake Epic
Climbing out of Cosens Bay on the Kal Lake Epic
Golden light shot from the Kal Lake epic
Bike repair stand at the Cosens Bay trailhead sponsored by Sun Country Cycle! Nice!
We stayed at the Lodge in Predator Ridge. This dog friendly hotel offers has excellent service plus, well stocked and comfortable rooms. They even have a valet that will take your bikes and secure them safely! It’s well worth mentioning yet again that the resort has true bike trails right from the door and chipped in to build the Ellison Connector trail that connects the resort to the Ellison Provincial Park trail system. Predator Ridge also supports NOCS by way of sponsoring toonie races.
Predator Ridge might look like your classic real estate and golf course tourist conurbation but take a deep breath. They truly get biking and they want to bring in and support biking. Additionally there’s a lot going on here for non-biking family members. There’s all sorts of outdoor and indoor facilities plus activities for kids. Pretty much a turn-key setup for getaways.
Even Ophelia was impressed with the bike valet!
Spacious rooms, soaker tub, nice patio and easy walking trails for your dog.
Harvest moon and fall colours on Predator Ridge
At the Predator Ridge Resort they have a very nice restaurant with an amazing patio, the Range Lounge and Grill. The food here is very good, but not for budget travellers (but did we mention its oh-so-good!). They also have a store (the Commonage Market), which has soups, sandwiches, coffee and other sundry items you may need. They have food there too that you can buy and cook in your room – perfect for budget options. Only thing which is lacking is a BBQ; that would be perfect for those summer or warm fall evenings.
The Range, yum.
The Patio with a view of the golf course.
When to Go
The warm season lasts from mid June to early September with an average daily high temperature above 23°C. The hottest days of the year are in late July, with an average high of 29°C and low of 14°C.
The cold season lasts from mid November to late February with an average daily high temperature below 6°C. The coldest day of the year is early January, with an average low of -6°C and high of -4°C.
Maps from Trailforks
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Kalamalka Park – Lookout Trail
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