After a spell in Saskatchewan, Hailey and I thought it was time to do some more touring in BC. So we headed out west once again on the Trans Canada highway over Roger’s pass, then south of Revelstoke onto the ferry.
We soon found ourselves in the Castlegar area, and decided to check out Syringa provincial park, on the shores of the Arrow Lakes.
After a few days visiting friends and camping in the official campground, which was very quiet I must say, it was time to head out and find some more isolated locales. From the park, I could see what I was told was an abandoned railroad grade on the far side of the lake, so when I found a forestry road heading in the right direction, I checked it out.
Unfortunately, the Shields Creek FSR ended with huge gates and ‘private’ signs before reaching the lake shore, but the old rail bed looked like it had limited potential. It was narrow, with few if any places to turn around and the low branches looked ready to rip the kayak or the fridge vent off the roof of the camper. But it was time to find a location to spend the night, so I took the ‘Motorized traffic permitted’ sign at face value, and bravely headed out into the unknown.
The kayak and fridge vent seemed to be surviving, and the truck did not seem worried by the vertical drops on the lake side of the trail. Then came a tunnel! Everything seemed to fit OK.
Next, we came to a high trestle with narrow railings. We tested the width, and at no point did both mirrors rub the railing at the same time
and I figured that if the trestle was built to hold trains loaded with lumber or ore (!), it should have no trouble with a truck. The map showed no reasonable ‘escape routes’ onto logging roads for miles and miles. When there was finally a place to turn around we did so and found a wide spot next to a trestle to spend the night. Watching the sun set from this high vantage point on the lake was spectacular. Hailey and I had time to explore the bridge and take some photos as well.
A chance conversation that evening with another person on the route indicated that contrary to my expectations, I could perhaps drive all the way out to the main highway via this old rail bed! So, in the morning, we continued on!
There were more tunnels.
There was another trestle.
And one tunnel that was a half mile long!
There were lots of scenic viewpoints, and a couple of primitive campsites.
There was a historical marker at the location of a mysterious explosion onboard a train in 1924.
Note: At the end of the trail I found a kiosk that described the abandoned rail line as being for use by foot, horse and bicycles only! Oops! But then I spotted another sign saying that ‘motorized traffic’ was permitted. Upon closer examination, I could see that the ‘no’ on the sign had been painted over, but I was not sure if it was an official change or the work of a vandal. Clearly, I had met other motor vehicles on the way, including 7 quads the first evening.
An online search later seemed to show that there was a bit of controversy over the intended use, with intense lobbying to allow some motorized traffic. The non-motorized lobby was concerned about vandalism and garbage if vehicles were allowed. I did not see any sign of either.
I had also started on the trail other than the designated entrances, so I had no chance to read any information on the trail.
A bike-blogger blogs about the section of trail from the start at Castlegar that I did not travel – more good photos, too!