Sunday, September 16, 2012

Galena-Alamo Loop

Galena-Alamo Loop
Distance: 14.6 km (9.03 mi).
Route type: Loop
Suitable for: Walking, running, biking
Elevation change: 406 metres up, 406 metres down
Technical difficulty rating:  
Navigational difficulty rating:  

This route combines the lower extents of two great trails, the Galena Trail and the Alamo Wagon Road. They run along opposite sides of Carpenter Creek. At the upstream (east) end, a short but steep connecting trail links the trails by way of Alamo Siding. An easy couple of kilometres along Highway 6 links the trails at the downstream end. There's a fair bit of elevation change, as one would expect, following the course of a mountain creek. The steepest section is the southwest portion, the 2.5 kilometres of the trail nearest New Denver, along the south side of the creek. This is a bit of a hard-core grunt on a bike with a 10% grade, and it follows a gravel road where the terrain and scenery are less interesting than elsewhere. On a bike I prefer to do the route clockwise to take this as a final hair-raising downhill at 50 km/h. When running or walking I tend to go counter-clockwise.

There are two logical starting points along Highway 6 for this loop. The first is at the bottom of the Alamo Road. Park in the gravel area just to the southeast of the bridge in New Denver. The other option is to drive north on Highway 6 to the pull-out 750 metres north of the hydro transformer station and pick up the Galena Trail there.

Today I rode my bike and did the loop clockwise. Starting at the pull-out just north of town, I picked up the little wooded piece of the Galena Trail that creates a shortcut between Highway 6 and 31A. This is a lovely segment that is a shade under a kilometre long. It dumps you out on Highway 31A, where you head uphill for about a hundred metres, take a right onto Denver Siding Rd. and the next left towards the Highway Maintenance yard. Here the Galena Trail becomes a proper trail again, gradually sloping upwards at a sedate 1-2% grade. About 4.5 km along, you reach the cable car.

After crossing the cable car, the steep hill takes you to the old Alamo Siding site. About 20 metres after passing the main ruins of Alamo Siding, a trail branches off to the right through the grass, heading immediately uphill. It crosses some of the wreckage, and then continues upwards through the woods, eventually arriving at this tumbledown supply house in a meadow. It dates back a hundred years and was still mostly standing until just a few years ago. Now its roof and main timbers have crumbled. There's still a lovely garden of now-feral irises out front, and it's still a property with an amazing view.

The trail passes in front of the house and then winds past it on the left side. Continue uphill a little further and you'll meet the Alamo Wagon Road.

Turn right on the Alamo Wagon Road and follow it as it meanders mostly downhill. It's very rooty, and there are places where scree slopes lend a fair bit of technical exposure to the trail. It can be tempting to get going fairly fast on a bike on parts of this trail, but keep your eyes well ahead as the trail has a tendency to veer to the left with no warning, in order to avoid plummeting off some pretty steep cliffs. It's a pretty straight-forward trail to follow otherwise.

There are some lovely views of the creek far below, the Valhalla mountains, the lake and New Denver to be had from the trail. Eventually as you near New Denver it widens a bit and then later becomes a gravel road. Just stay to the creek (right) side and carry on straight ahead and straight down.

In no time at all you'll be back down in New Denver. From here you just take a right on Highway 6 and head north out of town to your starting point.

Find more Bike Ride in New Denver, Canada

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