Sunday, July 15, 2012

Upper Galena Trail

Upper Galena Trail
Distance: 7.14 km (4.44 mi).
Route type: Linear
Suitable for: Walking, mountain-biking (hardtail), running, children
Elevation change: 125 metres up, 328 metres down
Technical difficulty rating:  
Navigational difficulty rating:  

The Upper Galena Trail is an amazing run, hike or bike ride. It's short (7 km), mostly smooth, it runs gradually downhill and is suitable for families with children. Trailheads are easily accessible by standard vehicles. The trail is mostly shaded, which makes it a good choice for a hot day. There are some moderately exposed slopes. Children who are still "wobblers" on bikes might do well to walk their bikes through a couple of these sections. The trail follows the bed of the old, long-abandoned narrow gauge Kaslo & Slocan (K&S) railway between the currently non-existent community of Three Forks and the village of New Denver. There are two outhouses along the route (see map). Creek water is considered drinkable by locals and water bottles can be refilled near the cable car.

The upper trailhead [waypoint] is at the junction of Highway 31A and the road to Sandon. There is a small parking area at the side of the road. The trail begins just below the parking area and immediately crosses to the north side ofCarpenter Creek by way of a bridge. The first half kilometre on the far side of the bridge is rolling and can be a little muddy in spring. A moderate downhill switchback through a dark grove of cedars brings you to the edge of Carpenter Creek, which the trail follows towards New Denver.

At the 2.5 kilometre mark sits Alamo. Back at the turn of the 20th century Alamo was a tiny settlement where ore cars were loaded onto the K&S railway. The ruins of Alamo are visible above the trail and can be [carefully] explored. Above Alamo runs another trail, the Old Sandon Road, and the two are connected by a short steep trail which winds around the Alamo ruins.

Immediately past Alamo, a short steep descent goes down to the creek where the cable car awaits. Two or three children, or one or two adults will fit in the car. There is a set of hooks which can be used to secure a bike to the outside of the car. The ride across in the little swaying car is always a highlight of this trail.

After a short grunt up from the creek, the trail continues its gradual downhill towards New Denver. After a short bit of boardwalk at kilometre 5 the trail opens up slightly and an old concrete retaining wall can be seen supporting the left (south) side of the trail. The drop-off here is precipitous, but a careful look over the edge allows one to see the remnants of the old hydroelectric dam at the narrowest part of the river. This dam generated power for the village of New Denver until the 1950s.

A hundred metres further on the trail dips into a creek valley to cross a tiny bridge. Here there is the option to make a steep descent to connect to the lower loop of the Carpenter Creek Trail, the wagon road which once facilitated maintenance of the power dam. The Galena Trail itself continues along the K&S railbed, meandering high above the creek on the north side. Through most of the last couple of kilometres it is smooth and easy. There are occasional glimpses of the New Denver Glacier, and of the creek snaking along the valley below.

An exposed scree slope signals the final half kilometre of the route. There is a small viewpoint just off the trail here. The last section of the trail tucks in beside the highway maintenance yard. There is a parking area [waypoint] at the end of the trail, which is a great place to arrange a pick-up, or to drop a vehicle prior to a hike. Alternatively following roads downhill from the end of the trail brings one to the main intersection in New Denver in about 12 minutes of walking.

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