Cycling the Nicola, Kamloops & Similkameen Railway - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2006, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
 
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Location: Abbotsford, B.C., Canada.
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Default Cycling the Nicola, Kamloops & Similkameen Railway

This is a trip report from a cycling trip on the Victoria Day long weekend (May 20-22, 2006) on the NK & S (a spur of the Kettle Valley Railway) from Spences Bridge to Canford (north to south--uphill). The report is a supplement to the description of the route given in Dan & Sandra Langford's book "Cycling the Kettle Valley Railway," 3rd. ed. I'd strongly suggest that anyone wanting to cycle some of the many abandoned railbeds in BC start by picking up this book (at MEC, or your favourite outdoor store). All the kilometer distances mentioned in this report refer to the maps in Cycling the KVR. If you haven't cycled old railbeds before, it isn't necessary to have a heavy-duty mountain bike to do it. My husband has a lightweight hybrid, which is probably the ideal bike for the job.


Although this trip does require detouring between the railbed and Hwy. 8 in several spots, it is worth it! We had lots of sun and only a few sprinkles of rain on a weekend that was forecast to be wet and cloudy on the coast. The Brittle Prickly Pear cacti were almost in bloom, and they must put on quite a display at the end of May or in early June. We encountered no ATVers, and the only roaring came from the mighty Nicola River (popular with whitewater kayakers), and a dog that decided passing cyclists were intruders that had to be chased. There are at least two restaurants in Spences Bridge--Rumor's on the north side of the Thompson R., and a vegetarian place that occupies the old Steelhead Inn (you can also stay there). The friendly folks at Rumor's allowed us to park our car in their lot for the weekend.

We liked this trail a lot, but there were a few things that would have been helpful that weren't mentioned in the Cycling the KVR book.

The start of the trail at the Spences Bridge end (km 73.6) was a bit obscure and we missed it and ended up accessing the railbed by going through a small cluster of houses just west of the bridge over the Nicola River on Hwy. 3. It might be that not many cyclists start from the north end. We only had one car, but with the benefit of hindsight, we would recommend taking two vehicles and starting at the Merritt (higher) end. It was a real workout cycling the highway sections uphill--some 8 and 9% grades. It would be easy to cycle from Merritt to Spence's bridge one-way on a 3-day weekend (including travel time from Vancouver).


The section of railbed that runs on the east side of Hwy. 8 from km 62.2 to 60.5 was passable, but very soft and obviously hasn't been travelled much. It's easier just to stay on Hwy. 8 for this stretch.

The section between the Clapperton tunnel (km 60) and Clapperton (km 59.4) has several small slides. One of the slides is quite high and it takes a bit of effort to push a loaded bike across it (but it was do-able). Looks like this part of the trail needs some work, or it soon won't be passable.

It was difficult to find the best routes around the Indian Reserves. We didn't have time to contact any of the bands ahead of time (Dan's book says that one reserve will give you access if you arrange it), so we detoured around both the Shackan and the Nooaitch reserves. The best access point at the south end of the Shackan reserve was Dot Ranch Cutoff Road (signed) at approx. km 44.5. Another gravel road called FX Ranch Rd. is just north of this, and looks like it may also provide access, but according to the Cycling the KVR book, it is within the reserve boundary. Don't make the mistake of heading down this road instead of Dot Ranch Cut-off Rd., like we did. It's a steep push back up. These roads may not have been signed when the 3rd edition of Cycling the KVR came out, but they are now.

At the T-junction at the bottom of the Dot Ranch Cut-off Rd., head right and a winding dirt road takes you downhill to the railbed (km 45) and Manning Creek Forestry Service Road. The FSR crosses the Nicola R., and just past the bridge on the left is what looks like an old Forest Service campsite (or a kayaker's site?). It is quite a large site with picnic tables and outhouses. We missed this on our way down and camped in a much inferior spot beside the railbed.

If you are headed north on Hwy. 8, the best access point at the north end of Nooaitch reserve isn't marked--it's a small dirt road (or lane) that connects to Hwy. 8 opposite a sign that reads "Dot Ranch Cut-off Rd. Ahead" at approx. km 41.5. There is a gap in the cement guard rail to allow access. This saves you a steep hill climb if you're heading north, but I'm not sure whether it is within the reserve boundary or not.

At the south end of the Nooaitch reserve (approx. km 32), there is a large campground called the N'Kwala Recreation Site on Hwy. 8. There are defined campsites with picnic tables, fire pits, outhouses, etc. There seemed to be a lot of canoeists staying there on the weekend.

All in all, an interesting area.

And some pics:






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post #2 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2006, 09:23 PM
Headed for the Mountains
 
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great TR, .. thanks for all the detailed route info

cycling part of the KVR is in my summer/fall plans, .. I just have to decide which section
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2006, 10:15 PM
 
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We were among those canoeists camped at the n'kwala campsite on the long weekend. Wonder if you were the two cyclists we saw on Monday morning as we headed back to Spences Bridge on our way home? We paddled on Nicola Lake on Saturday & then the upper portion of the Nicola (from town to the Sunshine Rd west) on Sunday. The site you mention on the Dot Lake Rd is a take-out site for one of the canoe trips but we think it's private property so might not be available for camping.

Nice to get away from the hustle & bustle of the Lower Mainland.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2006, 10:17 PM
 
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quote:Originally posted by paddler

We were among those canoeists camped at the n'kwala campsite on the long weekend. Wonder if you were the two cyclists we saw on Monday morning as we headed back to Spences Bridge on our way home? We paddled on Nicola Lake on Saturday & then the upper portion of the Nicola (from town to the Sunshine Rd west) on Sunday. The site you mention on the Dot Lake Rd is a take-out site for one of the canoe trips but we think it's private property so might not be available for camping.

Nice to get away from the hustle & bustle of the Lower Mainland.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 05-28-2006, 11:38 PM
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Thanks for the report!
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 05-29-2006, 12:01 AM
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Nice! I'd like to do this one. Is it a little scary riding over these things?

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post #7 of (permalink) Old 05-29-2006, 12:06 AM
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quote:Originally posted by paddler
Nice to get away from the hustle & bustle of the Lower Mainland.

always isn't it?

Nice trip report!

----------------------------------------
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 06-04-2006, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
 
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Just don't look down through the ties, and you'll be fine! None of the trestles on this railway have been decked, but a lot of the ones on the KVR have.

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quote:Originally posted by wilderness_seeker


Nice! I'd like to do this one. Is it a little scary riding over these things?

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 06-04-2006, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
Hittin' the Trails
 
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We may have been the cyclists you saw--there didn't seem to be any others in the area! The canoeing looked like fun. We saw a group of about 8 boats drifting (quickly) downstream at one point. We were hoping to see paddlers playing in the rapids, but no luck. Interesting that the Dot Ranch campsite is private. It wasn't signed, so we weren't sure.

Yes, good to get away from the hustle and bustle, and the RAIN!

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quote:Originally posted by paddler

We were among those canoeists camped at the n'kwala campsite on the long weekend. Wonder if you were the two cyclists we saw on Monday morning as we headed back to Spences Bridge on our way home? We paddled on Nicola Lake on Saturday & then the upper portion of the Nicola (from town to the Sunshine Rd west) on Sunday. The site you mention on the Dot Lake Rd is a take-out site for one of the canoe trips but we think it's private property so might not be available for camping.

Nice to get away from the hustle & bustle of the Lower Mainland.
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