With a loose plan and 4 days off a friend and I set off to ride as much of the old Kettle Valley Railway (and Columbia and Western Railway) as possible. I was fascinated by the history, and sheer magnitude of the work involved, creating this rail line through the rugged landscape. For a brief history check out this link: http://www.bcadventure.com/adventure/explore/ok/trails/kettle.htm
We departed Calgary and burned pavement south on Hwy 22 and east on Hwy 3 to Castlegar. We set Up Camp at; http://www.castlegarrvpark.com/, just south of the town on Hwy 3 (up the hill on the left about 4 km. from the lights at Columbia Avenue.) The owner was good about directions to the trailhead at the north end of town.
To find it go north on Columbia Avenue from the junction of hwy. 3 (there is a Chevron gas station on the Corner). At the bridge take the ramp on the right that goes underneath to Arrow Lakes drive to Keenlyside dam. At the corner where the road turns right to the dam, stay left onto the gravel. The trail starts behind a large steel building ahead on the left. The rails run for about a few hundred yards past the entrance gate before disappearing for the duration.
At Work the morning of departure, but ready to play!
Quick stop at the Frank Slide on Hwy #3, smoke break for the BMW pilot.
Salmo Pass late June 2010
Castlegar from the viewpoint south of town on Hwy #3.
CastlegarRVpark and Campground south on Hwy#3 Just behind the office across the marsh.
Night shot of the camp spot at Castlegar
Playing with the camera remote after a long day of pavement pounding.
It was easy running on the gravel roadbed that is wide enough for a Smart car or a GS adventure. There are well-maintained trestles with spectacular views of Lower Arrow Lake along the first stretch. There is even a picnic table at one wide spot with lots of room to park off the trail. The first tunnel is short and dry with good surface.
The Trailhead on the north east end of Castlegar near the Keenlyside Dam.
Honest Officer the sign said so.....
Just inside the Gate near Castlegar, the rails still there.
The second tunnel is about ½ a km long, curves along its length, making it very dark. It is also very wet with water pouring down inside from the ceiling and a slippery cobblestone like surface. Great fun In other words. You pass under the highway south of the tunnel and through another tunnel.
Above Arrow Lake on the KVR, beautiful in the morning.
One of many trestles along Arrow lake
Another gratuitous Trestle shot
Excellent vantage point overlooking Lower Arrow Lake from the Kettle Vally Railway, (Columbia and Western at this point actually)
Little reminders of the railine along the way, I left it where it was taking the photo and the memory only.
One of the short Tunnels on the first stretch along Arrow Lake.
New guy action shot
Can you see his Grin! We were having a great time.
The longest tunnel on the KVR system. Dark even with high beams, very wet, water pouring down all the way through and slippery and rough.
Stopped for a picture before forging ahead.
A bit weird not seeing the end after already riding for a few minutes.
Daylight at the end of the longest tunnel.
The trail is easy until you get to a huge washout. Now that Smart Car or GS Adventure might be a bad Idea.
There is a bypass built down to the left, made for bicycles. The KLR made it down and back up without too much trouble, being the lighter and pannier free of the bikes. The GS made it down to the midway point onto a little wooden bridge with somewhat more stress and difficulty. There was no way that it was making it up the 1-foot wide dirt path with the Tourtech panniers on it. The path up was steep crossed with tree roots and rocks. It had guard rails made from saplings and would have maybe just slowed the GS on its 500-foot plunge, should it fall over. I held the front brake and stepped on the rear brake while sitting on the flimsy railing while my friend took off the panniers. The GS had far more aggressive knobbies but still kept spinning out on the trail going up. The KLR had just walked up on the stock Dunlops. With the panniers sitting down on the bridge and me pushing using the racks we finally got the BMW to the top. I had been in such a hurry to go help my buddy with the GS that I had left all my gear on. Now I got to take the jacket and helmet off and clean out the dirt from all the tire spinning.
At the center of the "V" shaped bypass looking north. It was steeper than it looked.
Some proof before attempting the climb.
Looking back down from the south side. Hands were shakeing from the exertion.
On the south side of the washout looking north.
After a short rest and some self-congratulations we set off hoping that was the last washout. It was, and the trail was in good shape down past Farron and Paulson. There was a great variety of terrain from quiet little ponds, to valleys, seen from narrow perches high above. Don’t fall down here, or stop if you don’t like heights. The trail crosses a road with gates (not locked) not long before it comes to a parking lot above Christina Lake. We turned right out of the parking lot and ran down into town to hook up with Highway 3 west up to Grande Forks.
Wider part of the trail, easy going at this point.
Nice ponds along the path.
Hwy #3 crosses above.
Old Mine building on a spur next to the line.
Signage above Christina Lake were we lost the trail. A road has been built over and across it.
Midway Station from the Old KVR days (a museum stand next to it). Midway B.C. right on the hwy.
At Grande Forks we went north on North Forks road watching on the left for a yellow steel gate to hook up with the trail again. The trail quickly climbs up out of town to skirt the cliff side that runs along the west side of the valley. One small tunnel before the trail gets a bit more challenging.
Not far from the town of Grande Forks, The trail starts right in town.
For those afraid of heights it can be a bit hairy in spots.
The surface gets loose and rough and a bit more overgrown. The trail between Greenwood and Midway looked wide and well maintained but the signage was very discouraging to motorcycles and we were ready for a pavement break. We jumped back on #3 and rolled into Rock Creek. After a short fuel up and navigation consult we headed out of town, north on hwy 33 to Beaverdell. We could not find a way onto the trail near Rock Creek and the place was crawling with tourists so we didn’t try too hard.
We linked up with the trail from the Beaverdell Station Road by the little store on the left as you come into town from the south. After you cross the river you will see a rough little path on your right that seems to go straight as the road swings left. That’s it. The path skirts around a trailing pile and hooks up onto the KVR that runs north, you can’t miss it. The trail is criss-crossed by logging roads and is fairly rough and overgrown. It climbs steadily and switches back on itself to gain altitude. There are a few swampy sections once you pass the Arlington Lake campground beside the trail. Just about 1 km past the campground you come to a “Y” where a logging road crosses. The KVR is straight ahead, concealed by the road’s grading and underbrush. It becomes very narrow from this point and extremely rough. Swampy sections sink holes and potholes everywhere. You won’t make a lot of time on this section but it is passable, during dry weather. We came out at a wide gravel (Oakangan Falls) road. Knowing the Myra Canyon and Bellevue Park were strictly off limits, we turned left (west) and followed the signs for Penticton about 69 km. It connects with Beaverdell road and Carmi road above Penticton. We made camp just south of the city on the lake. We stayed at Banbury Green RV Park and campground that my friend knew about. It was great camping under the trees right beside Skaha Lake.
Camp spot #9 at Branbury Green south of Penticton.
Full Moon Rising Over Skaha Lake, Penticton,B.C.
End of Part 1, more to come.