Beads of sweat dripped down my forehead, yet the heat of the desert air was tempered by the motion of my e-bike along the trail following the gurgling water and the intoxicating aroma of flowers and Ponderosa Pine trees.
I jumped at the chance to join some friends who had planned this summer adventure despite being rather rusty on a bicycle. We were at mixed skill levels with a couple of us leveraging the additional go power of e-bikes and others riding fully manual. Ranada, Deidre, Sandra, and Lisa were patient with me, and I had a fabulous time.
Renting An E-Bike
The Okanagan is a paradise throughout for biking and there’s a good chance wherever you are staying, there are lots of bicycle rental options. Visit Penticton even has a campaign called “Fuel Free…Almost”. On that website, you can find great suggestions including information on road cycling routes and bike trails. You’ll find some listings of its tourism partners offering bike rentals such as Velo Volt Mobile E-Bike Rentals, Penticton Bike Rentals, Freedom the Bike Shop, HooDoo Adventure Company, Pedego Penticton, and Penticton E-Kruise.
I selected Penticton E-Kruise because they had just what I needed – a step-through e-bike that could be adjusted to fit a shorter person, and a location convenient to my plan. Ranada has a bike rack and she offered to pick me up enroute to Oliver. Penticton E-Kruise’s Skaha Lake location at Barefoot Beach Plaza was perfect for that and also at the trailhead of the westside route on Skaha Lake from Penticton to south.
Penticton E-Kruise’s Myles took time to thoroughly explain the operation of the e-bike and adjusted it carefully for my size. I even had an opportunity to try it out a bit before Ranada’s arrival. The rental and the return process went smoothly, and Myles helped us unload the e-bike from the rack.
International (Oliver) Hike & Bike Trail
The 18.4-kilometre route is mostly paved through Oliver and follows the Okanagan River Canal. We accessed it from the north in the parking lot located near McAlpine Bridge where Highway 97 and the Okanagan River meet. From Penticton, you turn left on Tucelnuit Drive and then an immediate right into the parking lot. You find the pathway at the southwest corner of the lot and take it across the bridge where it takes a sharp left to the scenic trail.
Here you’ll find bikers, hikers, and family/dog walkers enjoying the picturesque pathway through the town of Oliver. South of Oliver, you can continue to Osoyoos on crushed gravel. You can also access it at the Oliver Visitor’s Centre, where there is free parking and a nearby playground, or at Road 22 where there is also a parking lot with access to the Oxbows.
A flat tire cut our adventure a bit shorter than anticipated. Insiders’ Tip: Watch for prickly cactus on the path. We agreed that given the heat of that day, we had enjoyed a healthy outing of exercise and nature gazing and were ready for lunch and our next chapter of the adventure.
District Wine Village
The trailhead parking lot is right across the road from the Cellar Door & More, formerly the Jackson Triggs/Inniskillin Okanagan tasting. It was recently renovated to accommodate the diverse Great Estates of the Okanagan wines and merchandise curated for food and wine lovers. You’ll find over 100 VQA wines including Sumac Ridge, Steller’s Jay, Black Sage Vineyard, Inniskillin, Jackson Triggs, Sunrock, Vintage Ink and more.
Ready for lunch, we decided to postpone the Cellar Door for another visit and headed over to the District Wine Village (DWV). It is located south of McIntyre Bluff. The DWV is a dynamic setting with 16 buildings all individually licensed to produce their own wine, beer, or spirits. Small businesses with limited production, each outlet determines its own tasting fees which may or may not be refundable with a purchase. You can explore and taste wine, enjoy a glass or bottle at each location on their own patio.
A large Central Plaza decorated with water features and architectural highlights can stage live entertainment, markets, and other events. To enjoy drinks outside of the small businesses’ patios, purchases must be made from the restaurant. While it is family and pet-friendly, remember it is a wine village with many visitors so children must always be accompanied by an adult and dogs must remain on a leash.
On this day, we opted to start with a taste of the sparkling wine at One Faith Vineyard poured by Bradley Cooper, the Winemaker/General Manager at that time.
Next, we gathered at Ward’s Wine Country Kitchen for lunch and drinks. We thoroughly enjoyed Chef Ian Stilborn’s fine cuisine and sipped on well-made cocktails.
Before we departed, we shared a bottle of rose at Gneiss Wines poured by the gregarious and accommodating Kayla Sahara, guest services manager. We made a few purchases there and at One Faith. I love experiencing diverse outlets in one location when your time is limited, or you don’t feel like driving from site to site.
I recommend the DWV to visitors regularly because, like the BC Wine Information Centre in Penticton, it offers variety and convenience to learn about some local products.