Run the Kettle Valley Trail to the Othello Tunnels in 2 minutes!
This is another entry in our 'two-minute' video series using stop-motion photography to provide a glimpse into the beautiful scenery throughout British Columbia and Alberta. On a misty autumn morning, I grabbed the GoPro and went for a run from Kawkawa Lake Road to the Othello Tunnels via the Kettle Valley Trail.
We have a couple of articles already on Hope, BC. It's probably most notable as the self-proclaimed 'Gateway to HolidayLand' as you leave Vancouver to go. . . well, um. . . pretty much anywhere. So if you're driving one-way from Vancouver to Banff, Vancouver to Calgary, or Vancouver to Edmonton, Kelowna or Prince George--needless to say, you'll be plotting a course through Hope. And if you're looking to break up your trip, Hope is a good option for your first major stop. The surrounding scenery is beautiful, with stunning nearby attractions such as Hell's Gate, Manning Park, and of course the Othello Tunnels. While it's a little light on the hotel/motel front, there are some great BnB options available in Hope.
The tunnels were originally commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 1900s as a way to connect the southern coast of BC with the Kootenays--and when you see them you'll realize that, even by today's standards, they're a real feat of engineering. The tunnels are high and wide, and carve through dramatic, solid-granite cliffs that plunge down into the rapid Coquihalla river.
This dramatic setting was seized upon by the producers of Rambo: First Blood, who chose the location (along with a recently demolished bridge) as a backdrop for several dramatic scenes in the movie. The Othello Tunnels location was used to film the famous cliff jump scene, instantly etching Rambo into the (granite) bedrock of Hope history.
The railway line was abandoned in 1964, after the last passenger train made a final run over the tracks. Freight had been discontinued three years earlier. In the 1980s, the tracks were torn up to leave behind a smooth, level path, making it ideal for running, biking or walking. The trail has pretty good drainage, but it still collects some large puddles during the rainier months of the year. The surrounding forestry is typical of the area, dense and mossy, providing the instant feeling of remote wilderness which is reinforced by the roar of the Coquihalla river on your right as you head out there.
Overall, very minimal incline; the railway grade never exceeds 2.2 percent. And the solid conditions underfoot makes it a crowd favourite, attracting visitors with a wide range of skills and abilities. So if you're out for a run, as I was, you might find yourself threading your way past the strollers.
On the other hand, if the thought of running three-and-a-half kilometres is enough to make you contemplate jumping off a cliff. . . I wouldn't recommend it, despite the easy access to all those dramatic launch points. Sure, Rambo did it, but he had an entire team of professional stunt coordinators helping him.
You're probably better off just driving to the parking lot and taking a short walk to the tunnels for easy access to the eye candy. Either way, you'll be in for a great day amid some stunning scenery.