Exploring Hope and the Othello Tunnels

IMG_1613_LUCiDWe spent the final night of my birthday motorcycle trip through the Okanogan Valley in Hope, British Columbia.

We found a great AirBnB called the Evergreen Bed & Breakfast that was within walking distance of a few shops and restaurants downtown (they also cooked us a delicious breakfast before we headed home!) and a short ride to our main destination in town, the Othello Tunnels.

According to Atlas Obscura:

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) constructed the Kettle Valley Railroad (KVR) to link up the Kootenay region of British Columbia with the Southern coast. In 1914, the CPR saw fit to construct a series of five tunnels through the Coquihalla River Canyon as part of the KVR.

Andrew McCulloch was appointed Chief Engineer from 1910-1916 to complete the KVR, which proved to be the most challenging project of his career. With sheer vertical walls and harsh winters, the conditions for the workers weren’t ideal. Cliff ladders, suspension bridges, and simple ropes were all used to give them access to the sections they worked on… A fan of Shakespeare, McCulloch named the stations after characters from The Bard’s works, and the tunnels earned their popular name from this inspiration.

Once the tunnel system was decommissioned, the path through the Othello Tunnels became a popular trail that’s now officially part of the Trans-Canada trail system. The 3.5 km roundtrip hike is flat, easy, and lots of fun!

We rode the bikes over to the tunnels and then set out quickly on our hike, hoping to beat the rain. We did manage to complete our hike without getting wet, but it poured the entire ride back to Lynnwood. Thank goodness for our amazing waterproof riding suits!

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The walk through the tunnels was uneventful and enjoyable. In between the tunnels were walkways and in some instances wooden bridges to cross, which allowed you to see down to the water rushing through the Coquihalla Gorge below.

Looking at the sheer cliffs and all of the rock, it was amazing to think about the process of actually creating this tunnel system!

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My favorite tunnel had windows cut into the side, which allowed light to flow in. I tried to imagine what it would have been like to ride one of the trains through these tunnels and whether you would have been able to enjoy the views going by at a much faster rate than we were walking.

After exiting the final tunnel we found a small sign up in one of the trees by the trail signaling there were no more tunnels ahead! We kept walking the trail through the woods for a little while but eventually turned around to make sure we were back to the bikes and suited up before raindrops fell.

I have a whole list of other hikes and things to see and do in Hope, but I’m glad we got to experience the tunnels our first trip and would definitely recommend you add them to your list. They are easy to access, family-friendly, and an easy stop as you’re passing through!

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