Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Telegraph Trail

Telegraph Trail
Distance: 8.55 km (5.31 mi).
Route type: Out-and-back
Suitable for: Walking, running, mountain-biking
Elevation change: 266 metres up, 266 metres down
Technical difficulty rating:  
Navigational difficulty rating:  

A sweet little trail for mountain-biking, walking or running. It's an out-and-back smooth, flowing route through a magical mossy forest.

To get to the trail-head, drive north from New Denver along Highway 6. The hamlet of Rosebery is about 3 km out. There are three roads leading off Highway 6 to the right; you want the third one, right after the road to the Provincial Park campground. The road is marked W. Wilson Creek Rd / 5th Ave.. Once on the road, check your odometer. Avoid the fork to 5th Ave and head uphill for 2 km, driving past the old decommissioned landfill site marked with copious "No Hunting No Dumping" signs. At about exactly 2.0 km you'll come to a cleared flat area.  Here there's a secondary gravel road leading directly off to the right. Follow this for another 500 metres, until you come to a small gravel pit area. Although it's possible to drive a little further, this is the logical parking spot.

Continue on foot or bike along the same road, staying to the upper fork (marked with a discrete rock cairn) at the junction 200 metres along. After about 700 metres you'll come to an open area that used to get used as a campsite. Continue straight ahead beyond the campsite area, onto a single-track trail. The trail seems to peter out after another 100 metres, but a keen eye will see that it heads off at an angle down to the right through the trees. A short, rooty downhill access spur leads into the Telegraph Trail forest.

From here you can't really go wrong. The bench-cut trail is all single-track. It's smoother than most Kootenay trails, and is well-maintained with four or five short bridges and regular clearing of deadfall. For beginning mountain-bikers, some of the roots that cross the trail will tend to kick your rear tire out a bit, and the trail is narrow, so on wet days you'll need to stay vigilant and have reasonable control over your line, but otherwise the trail is very much suited to beginners. There are no long climbs or descents, and even the short ups and downs would be ridable by most kids and inexperienced riders. 

Runners will love the quiet and calm of this trail, and the forgiving surface of pine and cedar needles. Hikers will enjoy noticing the telegraph resistors still wired to some of the trees, and the magical stillness of the forest. 

The trail goes a full 5k distance, but there's currently a washout at kilometre 4 that requires a bit of soggy and steep scrambling through a freshet, so I haven't mapped it beyond that point.

Find more Mtn Biking in New Denver, Canada

Sunday, October 14, 2012


The colour has been late arriving, but here it comes. The birch have turned yellow. The larch (right) are just beginning to do so.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Upper Galena-Alamo Loop

Upper Galena-Alamo Loop
Distance: 4.97 km (3.1 mi).
Route type: Loop
Suitable for: Walking, mountain-biking, running, children
Elevation change: 226 metres up, 226 metres down
Technical difficulty rating:  
Navigational difficulty rating:  

This is a sweet little 5k single-track loop that begins at Three Forks, at the junction of Highway 31A and the Sandon Road. There's a parking area on the right just after you turn off the highway. From here you walk a few dozen metres down the road and hang a right onto the trail. Follow the trail as it crosses the creek, and then begins to meander into the forest on the far side. Sometimes it's a little muddy right here, but the rest of the trail tends to be pretty dry. In a hundred metres you'll come to a prominent trail junction marked with a signpost. This is the beginning of the loop.

You can do the loop in either direction, of course, but clockwise (beginning up the H-Road towards Sandon) puts most of the moderately technical stuff on the downhill. The sign says the road isn't maintained, but few hundred metres you'll be taking is in perfect shape.

The trail climbs for about 300 metres, after which you'll take the first hard right onto the Alamo Wagon Road, otherwise known as the Old Sandon Road. Before the highway was built, it was this wagon track which supplied Sandon from New Denver, running on the south side of Carpenter Creek. The loop follows the wagon road for about two kilometres, gradually downhill most of the way. There are a couple of fun small bike jumps built along the way if you're so-inclined, and the usual rickety boardwalks and bridge-lets over freshets and mucky sections. Overall the trail is rooty and rocky but not too technically challenging for fair-weather mountain-bikers.

After a couple of kilometres it's time to leave the Old Sandon Road and head downhill towards Alamo. This is the one significant fork leading off to the right and it's hard to miss -- unless you're screaming along on a bike. The connector here will take you past a recently collapsed house from a century ago, and through the ruins of the old Alamo Siding railway stop, where high-grade ore was loaded into railcars. The descent here is fairly steep. A few technical sections would be best walked by inexperienced cyclists.

Below the Alamo Siding ruins, you'll get spit out on the Galena Trail across from the outhouse. The cable-car is just a hundred metres to the left, if you're inclined to look it over, take a jaunt across, or help other trail-users to cross. The loop itself, though, heads back towards Three Forks by taking a right turn on the Galena Trail. From here you've got a rolling gradual uphill of a couple of kilometres until you meet up with the junction marked by the signpost above.

Retrace your steps across the creek bridge to the parking area and you're done!

Find more Run in New Denver, Canada

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A late start to fall

As late as summer was to arrive, so it is late to leave. The bracken has turned, but the leaves on the trees are just beginning to get the idea. Nights are cold, well below freezing this week. But the days continue to be lovely.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Distance: 6.24 km (3.88 mi).
Route type: One way (vehicle drop)
Suitable for: Biking
Elevation change: 10 metres up, 585 metres down
Technical difficulty rating:  
Navigational difficulty rating:  

This is a mostly non-technical single-track bike route. It begins above Sandon off the Queen Bess Road. Drop a vehicle at the Galena Trail parking area where the Sandon Road turns off Highway 31A. Continue on with your bikes through Sandon, crossing the bridge as you arrive. Leave Sandon  past the museum by following the well-signed forestry road towards Idaho Peak.

About 4 km along, just on the far side of a wide open meadow of fireweed, the Queen Bess Road is the lower (right) fork. Follow this for almost another half kilometer until you see a pull-out on the right sufficient for two or three vehicles in a pinch. If you've driven, this is where you leave your vehicle. Backtrack about 150 metres and look carefully for the trailhead. It's unmarked, heading down into the forest off the lower side of the road. The trail you're looking for is smooth steep dirt; there are no ramps or bridges. Just downward dirt.

The trail is moderately technical at first with a couple of steep little bits after about 500 metres. After that you're dumped out on a saner grade trail. There are plenty of switchbacks, and it's hard to find a wrong turn to take. You just keep heading steadily down at roughly the same 7% grade to the end. You'll pass the Queen Bess (Victor) mine site about half way along, then continue on down. Enjoy the ride.

You'll arrive at the junction with the Galena Trail a hundred and fifty metres from its upper trailhead. Turn right and head back to the parking area to retrieve your first vehicle.

Alternatively you can drop the first vehicle at Denver Siding, turn left at the junction of the Galena and enjoy a gentle pedal down the Upper Galena Trail, across the cable care and back down to Denver Siding.

Find more Bike Ride in Silverton, Canada

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Retallack Old Cedars Trail

Retallack Old Cedars Trail
Distance: 1.05 km (0.6 mi).
Route type: Lollipop loop
Suitable for: Walking, running
Elevation change: 35 metres up, 35 metres down
Technical difficulty rating:  
Navigational difficulty rating:  

This short walk is a must-do for visitors any time from late spring to mid-fall. The trailhead is easily accessible right off Highway 31A, about 2 kilometres east of Fish Lake, or about 15 km from New Denver. There's a prominent sign in the midst of a straight stretch of highway marking the turnoff for Retallack Alpine Resort. Turn in at the sign, cross the bridge and park immediately after the bridge on the right. The trail is right there.

 Follow the trail beside the creek. After about 200 metres there's a fork. We usually travel counter-clockwise around this loop, so we take the right-hand fork. From here you're in the thick of the grove of old-growth cedars. One of our favourites fell this year: it's almost more impressive toppled on its side than it was standing. But gosh, the standing trees are amazing too. The undergrowth is sparse in the depths of the forest. Closer to the creek you'll find huckleberry, thimbleberry and devil's club.

At the double-back point at the western-most extent of the trail, you'll find the path climbing a couple of metres up over the roots of a large cedar that leans a little bit over the creek. Be sure to take a good look into the bear den in the base of this tree. Don't worry: it will be empty during any weather that's amenable to hiking on foot! The den is quite amazing. We've been able to fit 8 or 9 children at a time inside it. Brave children!

We love the peaceful stateliness of the Old Cedars forest. It does feel quite ancient. The ground has the springy resonant feel of terrain made of little more than centuries of cedar needles, mushroom mycelia and old air.