The TransCanada Trail through the southern Interior area of B.C. follows the Kettle Valley route, starting in the west Kootenays, and winding through the Okanagan, through the Similkameen area, then north to Brookmere, before bearing south to Hope.
The Kettle Valley Railway from Penticton to Brookmere was known as the Princeton Subdivision. Completed in 1915, it linked the mines, lumber mills, orchards of the Interior with the Coast, either through the Merritt Subdivision (especially in winter) or through the Coquihalla Subdivision to Hope. By 1961, sections of the railway were decommissioned and by 1990 the last rails were removed.
The government of British Columbia purchased the rail lines with the goal of establishing a trail network on the rail bed. With the work of many groups, the route can now be traversed for almost 600km. It is still a work in progress with featured sections like the Myra Trestles and other sections that still have detours, washouts, and private land parcels. Many of the sections are multi-use and visitors may see bicycles, horses, hikers, cross country skiers, or motorized users at any point.
The Trans Canada Trail project started in 1992 to celebrate Canada’s 125th year. It is a connection of 400 separate trails, linking 1000 communities and when it is finished, will be the world’s largest network of trails covering a distance of 22 500 kilometers. As of 2012, 73% of the trail is now ready for use. The Trans Canada Trail (TCT) enters Gold Country just east of Brookmere and links to the Coquihalla Subdivision and Merritt Subdivision at Brodie Station on the Coldwater River.
From Princeton, the TCT heads north along the Tulameen River to Coalmont and Tulameen. It follows the east shore of Otter Lake and then through farmlands along Otter Creek, following the old Aspen Grove Stage Road to Thalia Station. A trestle leads up the Spearing Creek drainage to Brookmere, now in Gold Country.
Brookmere was formerly known as Otter Junction and was the divisional junction of two railways, the Kettle Valley and the V, V, and E Line. A wooden water tower and caboose are still on display here and the TCT goes right through the middle of the village.
From Brookmere, the TCT descends for 6.4 kilometers to “the loop” at Brodie Station on the Coldwater River. The old rail bed lines go north along the Merritt Subdivision or south along the Coquihalla Subdivision. The TCT follows the rail bed south to Hope. The route is in good shape for most of the route to Juliet Station at 15.8 km from Brookmere. From there the route follows the Coquihalla Highway to Coquihalla Lakes. As the highway takes the high route down Boston Bar Creek, the TCT follows the Kettle Valley route, following the Kettle River on its way to Hope.
Although the TCT only has a short section in Gold Country, connecting sections up the Coldwater River through the Merritt Subdivision are in use now and as negotiations and progress is made on access, a TCT connecting trail to the heart of Gold Country is in our future.