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!

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