The International Hike and Bike Trail is 20 km recreational trail that begins 5.5 km north of Oliver, BC and ends at the north end of Osoyoos Lake. The trail follows the Okanagan River as it winds its way south to Osoyoos Lake and is wonderful way to explore the South Okanagan valley.
I have had my eye on this trail for some time now. We’ve explore the southern portion of it, the Osoyoos Lake Oxbows, on foot in the spring. The reason we have not biked the trail before now is that I wasn’t sure if my children could handle the entire, out-and-back, 36.8 km bike ride in one day. That may seem strange after our recent 43 km bike ride on the KVR from Chute Lake to Penticton, but there were two factors to consider. The first is that the KVR from Chute Lake to Penticton is downhill almost the whole way, while the International Hike and Bike Trail (also part of the KVR) is flat. The second factor is that my daughter no longer enjoys riding in the Chariot and a 36.8 km bike would be too far for her. Ideally, a one way bike ride (18.4 km) would be manageable but we would have to arrange some sort of pick-up or drop off. It wasn’t until we received a tip from a friend, did I consider biking part of the International Hike and Bike Trail.
We started our bike ride on the north end of the International Hike and Bike Trail. The trailhead parking lot is located just off Highway 97 and Tucelnuit Drive, right after the Esso Gas station and right before the McAlpine Bridge, where the highway and the Okanagan River intersect. From the parking lot we followed the wide paved trail towards Oliver. There are some neat things to see along the way: viewpoints, information signs, vineyards, a little white bridge and sometimes people floating down the river. There is also an excessive amount of poison ivy lining the edges of the trail – be careful! The paved trail carries on for 5.5 km until it intersects with Fairview Road in the town of Oliver. The trail continues on the other side of Fairview Road but this was our stopping point. Across the road there is Kinsmen Spray Park, a waterpark with picnic tables and a public washroom. It is a great place for kids to play before biking back to the north trailhead.
Biking the International Hike and Bike Trail from the north trailhead to the Kinsmen Spray Park and back again is a 12 km round trip. It was an easy bike ride for my son (8), manageable for my petite daughter (6) and we pulled our youngest (4) in a Chariot. The entire bike ride, including a generous hour of playtime at the park and several breaks along the way, took about three hours. As I previously mentioned, this portion of the trail is paved, but further along the trail at about the 8 km mark, the trail turns into gravel. Also, the trail is partly shaded. It was a very pleasant bike ride on a warm and windy 26°C day, but it could be uncomfortable on a very hot day. Be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks and swimsuits for the water park.