Kettle Valley Railway/Othello Tunnels Hike, Hope, British Columbia, Canada

 

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Just two hours from the bright lights of Vancouver (British Columbia) lies this small town which acts as a gateway to the Fraser Canyon. Hope has been a place we have just passed through in the past, but this time due to a hotel issue along the way, we arrived in Hope with enough time for a hike.

Othello Tunnels near Hope, British Columbia

Othello Tunnels near Hope, British Columbia, Canada

 The hike we enjoyed is called the Kettle Valley Railway/Othello Tunnels Hike. It is a relatively flat 8km (5 mile) out-and-back hike/bike trail that follows the old railroad (Kettle Valley Railway) and led us to the Othello Tunnels. The Othello Tunnels are a series of five short tunnels blown through granite cliffs built by the Kettle Valley Railway about a century ago. These tunnels connected British Columbia’s interior to its coast, and made it possible to transport goods without going through United States. In 1959, this portion of the railway tracks were shut down due to frequent washouts. The tunnels are closed in the winter months due to frequent rock falls within the tunnel. Signs near the tunnels warn of this danger to hikers. The tunnels are open in the summer months. (Check with the Visitor's Center for exact dates tunnels are open.) The shadows and light coming through the short middle tunnels cause a really neat repeating keyhole effect. Flashlights are a good idea as the end tunnels are long and can be dark. The movie "Rambo: First Blood" was filmed near these tunnels.

Othello Tunnels, near Hope  Columbia

On a bridge between the Othello Tunnels, near Hope, British Columbia, Canada

View of Coquihalla River under a Bridge

Coquihalla River under a bridge at the Othello Tunnels, Hope, British Columbia, Canada

 Between the tunnels, the trail leads onto bridges over the rushing blue waters of the Coquihalla River as it snakes its way through the granite cliffs and boulders. Keep kids close as the rails and fences blocking the trail from the rough waters below had some holes in them. Bears also roam these areas.

Rushing Blue Waters of Coquihalla River

Rushing Blue Waters of Coquihalla River

Rushing Blue Waters of Coquihalla River

We started our hike at the Kettle Valley Railway trailhead which was an 8 km roundtrip hike. The first 3 km (1.8miles) was along a bench with the river on one side.  Tall brush alternated with mossy granite cliffs on the other side. The sounds of the rushing river below accompanied us for most of the hike as we walked by stinging nettles, berry bushes and trees covered in green moss. We walked past bear scat along the trail which was a good reminder that bears live here. The trail was quiet, this part quieter than the tunnels. We saw 3 sets of hikers/bikers during this 3 km section. The last 1 km of the trail where the tunnels are, we met another 3 sets of hikers.

Walking among the mossy trees and granite walls

Walking among the mossy trees and granite walls

View from the first part of KVR/Othello Tunnel Trail

View from the first part of KVR/Othello Tunnel Trail

Rush waters between granite walls

Rushing blue waters between vegetation-covered granite walls near Othello Tunnels.

 

Other Hikes around Hope:

An alternative to the hike that we did is the Hope-Nicola Valley Trail which is a 5.5 km-8km (3.5 mile- 5 mile) hike roundtrip and you could use the tunnels trail to loop back to the parking lot. An even shorter alternative is to drive to the parking lot at Tunnels Rd and walk to the Tunnels for a 3.5 km (2 mile) hike. We did not explore the alternative ways since we were at the end of a long day. In retrospect, it may have been a better idea to drive to the end of Tunnels Road, parked and hiked from that end so that the Tunnels were at the beginning of our hike, not the end.  The Hope-Nicola Valley Trail would have been interesting as that was the route cattles were herded to move them from B.C's Interior to the Coast. Our 8 km along the KVR/Othello Tunnels took us 3 hours, all stops included. There is a campground closeby (Othello Campground and RV Park) which states a 10 minute walk to the tunnels. We stayed the night at one of the hotels in the town of Hope, a 10 minute drive away.

Another hike I noticed at the Visitors' Center was the Coquihalla Summit Trail. The information board showed a picture with views of granite peaks very much reminding me of the granite peaks in Yosemite National Park. It is definitely on my to-do list next time we come through. Be sure to stop by Hope’s Visitor Center for maps and brochures. We took a picture of the area map outlining trails from the information board out front and were glad we did as that map was more useful than the maps on the brochures.

 

Practical Information (as of June 2016)

Features: KVR/Othello Tunnels: shaded hike along mossy granite cliffs, mossy trees and rushing river (for 3/4 of the hike), 5 short tunnels to walk through over blue rushing waters of Coquihalla River (for 1/4 of the hike)

Entrance/ Parking Fee: Kettle Valley Railway (KVR)/Othello Tunnels Hike: free

Directions:

KVR/Othello Tunnels: In Hope, from 6th Ave, turn east to Kawkawa Lake Rd. Cross the bridge and turn right onto Kettle Valley Rd (just before the cemetery). Continue to gate.

Hope-Nicola Valley Trail: From 6th Ave, turn east onto Kawkawa Lake Rd,. Drive 3km and turn right on Tunnels Rd. Travel short distance to parking lot.

Othello Tunnels (Only) Trail: Map of trail to Othello Tunnels Only

Hike distances:

KVR/Othello tunnels: 8km (5 miles) roundtrip

Hope-Nicola Valley Trail: 5.5 km - 8 km (3.5 miles - 5 mile) roundtrip

Othello Tunnels (Only) Trail: 3.5 km (2 miles) roundtrip

 Amenities: KVR/Othello Tunnels Trailhead: No washrooms, unpaved parking (no trouble with our sedan on a dry day)

 Hope Visitor Center Address: 919 Water Avenue, Hope, British Columbia (Summer Hours: Daily 9am-5pm), 

 

Warning: The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided at the time of publication, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  As such, we will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and be safe.

 

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