This route is an accessible — but challenging — gravel tour of the numerous lakes located on the Thompson Okanagan Plateau east of Kelowna.
Climbing up to this plateau area can be daunting for many riders. Other options include Oyama Lake Road, Beaver Lake Road, and the epic King Edward Forest Service Road… all of which are HC-category gravel climbs: super steep and ~15km in length. Instead, this route employs Philpott Forest Service Road to climb up to the same elevation but it gets you up there a little more gently than the other options mentioned — making it less challenging for most riders.
Starting from YLW Airport is a perfect option for this loop; it connects to downtown Kelowna via the Rail Trail, or parking in a small gravel parking area at the north end of YLW on Old Vernon Road is a great option if you wish to drive to the route.
The route doesn’t turn to gravel until 34km in. From the start of Philpott FSR through to Beaver Lake Lodge there are no chances to refuel. Be mindful of weather, water requirements, and food; it is advisable to bring water filtration supplies. Wildlife — including moose, bears, and deer — should be expected.
The descent from Beaver Lake Lodge to Lake Country is epic. Enjoy!
Points of Interest
- Black Mountain Golf @ 12km
- Wild Play Kelowna @ 21km
- Outreach B&B @ 30km
- Easy Breeze Acres @ 30km
- Darley Springs @ 36km
- Ideal Lake @ 50km
- Grizzly lake @ 58km
- Aberdeen Lake @ 60km
- Specs Lake @ 60km
- Haddo Lake @ 61km
- Flyfish Lake @ 70km
- Aileen Lake @ 70km
- Doreen Lake @ 71km
- Dee Lake @ 73km
- Island Lake @ 76km
- Beaver Lake @ 86km
- Oceola Fish & Game Club @ 90km
Surfaces & Traffic
~70% gravel with light traffic.
This route leaves from YLW Airport on quiet, narrow, well-paved residential roads. Turning onto Highway 33 @ 14km to 28km, traffic is busy and the shoulders are narrow; ride safe and have a rear light.
Once onto Philpott FSR @ 28km, traffic disappears! Philpott FSR is paved for the first 6km and turns to gravel at the 34km mark of the route. As opposed to the loose gravel of Oyama Lake Road or the hard-packed mud gravel of Beaver Lake Road, Philpott FSR is rocky and bumpy, but significantly less challenging as a climb. The climb up to nearly 1400m is gradual @ 3-5% gradient, and lasts about 20km from the time you enter the gravel. Lots of pot holes and a washboard surface makes focusing on line-choice very important.
At 54km into the ride the road levels off, peaks at 1380m, and twists around all the lakes in the area. Traffic is minimal, gravel is mostly hard-packed but with an abundance of potholes.
The route remains gravel past Beaver Lake until about 3/4 of the way down the descent of Beaver Lake Road into Lake Country before the surface returns to pavement.
Pavement begins again at 95km into the route. Ride south on the busy Highway 97 (back to YLW) with its wide, paved shoulder.
There is only one option to fuel during this route, and it’s near the end of the ride:
- Beaver Lake Mountain Resort @ 87km
Beaver Lake has a well stocked camp store, with an espresso machine! Doing this route in reverse is a good option, although it will then start with a very challenging climb up Beaver Lake Road — you’ll be rewarded by refuelling at Beaver Lake and be well energized for the rest of the ride. #chooseyourownadventure
- Swainson Climb @ 10½km. 2km @ 5%, this is the first climb of the route and finishes at Black Mountain Golf Course.
- Highway 33 Climb from East Kelowna @ 14km. 4km @ ~5%, with 8%-10% ramps.
- Philbert’s March @ 28km. This is the pavement portion of Philpott FSR, 6.2KM @ 1½%.
- Climb to Doreen @ 68KM, short 2.2km 5½% climb at the mid-point of the ride.
- Beaver Lake Descent @ 86km. 13½km @ -7% descent into Lake Country from Beaver Lake Mountain Resort.
And please be sure to…