Ride Report – West Kootenays Bottom to Top

Vera @missvelocity sitting on a rock at Eagle Bay

Miss Velocity joined in on this most recent scouting mission. Sooooo nice to have my partner to help stay warm at night instead of shivering all by my lonesome! Eight days living off the bikes and fine tuning our systems. Still ticking off all the low-down bits since the snow is really hanging on this Spring…

Map of West Kootenay Motorcycle Route

It’s all mapped!!

So, here’s how the map works. Everything is broken up into smaller tracks based on the type of riding surface. Colour-coded for your convenience! Green is paved, Blue is unpaved, and red is unpaved but either more technical or has something on it that may be trickier for some rider/bike combinations. I’m never going to make assumptions about your skill level or enthusiasm, you know you. Always ride to what you’re comfortable with. 

There are waypoints for Camping, fuel, beer, motels, motorcycle shops, food, and cool places to see.

You can add everything in Gaia to you own (free) account, or download it straight away and add it to any app or Garmin unit.

Day One. Castlegar to the Grandby

Map of West Kootenay Motorcycle Route

Bit of a group start to the trip. Six of us rolled out from Castlegar heading along the railbed to Christina Lake. Stellar views along the Lower Arrow Lake, and across some sizable trestles. And naturally, through the Bulldog Tunnel. At a Kilometer long, with a slight bend right at the West end, it’s total darkness until the very end. Miss Velocity isn’t awesome with confined spaces, but luckily we had an Africa Twin to go in front of her and light the way!

group of motorcycles at lower arrow lake
motorcycle in bulldog tunnel

After everyone fuelled up in Christina Lake, the rest of the group continued on to the Old Cascade Highway for the return leg. Miss Velocity and I continued West and headed towards the Grandby for the night. Unpacked everything at the Granby-Burrell Creek rec-site which even had a decent supply of firewood. Nights are still chilly, so a warm fire for the win!

pile of motorcycle gear

Day Two. Grandby to NOT Edgewood

Map of West Kootenay Motorcycle Route

During an Oso Negro / Aeropress fuelled breakfast we set about re-packing everything with a bit more organization than just tossing everything on there like when we left. Working with the smaller 350exc-f, we tried to get a good balance between the two bikes with the 690 taking as much as made sense. But we travel pretty light as a pair, so it’s pretty tolerable even loaded…

With everything strapped on to our satisfaction, we roll out and headed North up the Grandby aiming for Edgewood…

Aaaaaaaaaand we didn’t make it. Had a fantastic ride up until 10km South of Edgewood, where deep snow over the last little bump stopped us cold. Well, crap. That didn’t work, now what? Back down towards Grand Forks to work on plan B.

motorcycle on a bridge
Vera @missvelocity in the snow South of edgewood

Fuel for the bikes, coffee for my belly and food for the panniers. We headed west to look for somewhere to bed down for the night. We started along the track that would take us past the old City of Paris mine site and crashed for the night on the side of a old side trail.

Day Three. Grand Forks to Christian Valley

Map of West Kootenay Motorcycle Route
motorcycle stopped by fallen trees

Another chilly night, more coffee, and all packed. Heading along a super fun double track, we were looking at a great morning. But…. it was not to be. Stopped by an absolute rats best of downed trees, we were forced yet again to retreat. Miss Velocity was getting a little frustrated by all the dead-ends, but started to come around when I asked if it would be better if we just sat at home waiting for all the snow to melt and the trees to get cleared…

Vera @missvelocity in windowframe
fasthouse motorcycle pants

Determined to get to Edgewood come hell or high water (but fingers crossed there’s not actually any high water..) we rode the optional FSR ride-around to Midway. 

Onto one of the nicer sections of railbed, more of a doubletrack.. From Midway, past Rock Creek and finishing at Westbridge. Well, as long as you like gates. There’s 13 gates along this section alone, but you get a system down soon enough. Even got the opportunity to rescue a llama that had somehow found it’s way into the road. Vera is the llama-whisperer, and managed to corral it back into it’s pen with the rest of the group…

Heading up the paved section into Christian Valley and stopped in at the Double E Sportsman Camp for a cold drink. Met Chris the owner a few years back, really interesting guy who smokes meat right there onsite. Sampled some of his beef and Serbian bacon. Mmmmmm……bacon……

Day Four. Christian Valley to Whatshan Lake

Map of West Kootenay Motorcycle Route

Beautiful night right on the river, mostly rested after another chilly night. Although the road up Christian Valley is nothing epic, the views are pretty stellar. Through the to highway 6, then down into Edgewood. Finally!! Only took an extra two days, but we made it and fuelled everything up.

motorcycle camping equipment
motorcycles loaded for camping by river
Naturehike camping tent
motorcycle gear in vestibule of camping tent

Fuel and fresh broccoli salad at Edgewood was welcome indeed. Great little store that has just about everything you might need to stock up on.

two adventure motorcycles getting gas

Day Five. Whatshan Lake to Trout Lake

Map of West Kootenay Motorcycle Route

Currently really heavy logging on the West side of Whatshan Lake, so lots of truck traffic starting at like 3am. Watch those blind corners!

After a rainy night and morning, packed everything up wet and rolled North.

junk food for breakfast
Vera @missvelocity KTM motorcycle

Some days you’re feeling it, and some days you’re not. Today was one of the latter, and I’ve learnt to listen to that sort of thing. It’s one of the nicest things about being mostly on a wander, rather than being on a tight timeframe. So, instead of continuing up to the Shelter Bay ferry, we went across the much smaller Arrow Lake ferry, once they were back from their 2 hour lunch…

Rolled into Nakusp to meet up with a new friend and his awesome partner. Beers on the lawn and a good chat was just what we needed to recharge our social batteries.

Continuing in the theme of self-care, we headed up to Trout Lake to have a luxurious night indoors!

Trout Lake Windsor Hotel

The historic Windsor Hotel is an located in the heart of the Selkirk Mountains next to the stunning Trout Lake. Since the 1890’s when the Windsor first opened its doors the Hotel has hosted thousands of guests including British Royalty, gold miners, dream chasers and outdoor adventurers. And now…..us!!

trout lake Windsor hotel with motorbikes
Vera @missvelocity in Trout Lake Windsor hotel

The Windsor is one of those places where you need to spend a little time wandering around and looking at everything. As one of the oldest hotels still in existence in BC, there is so much history packed inside these walls!

dock on trout lake

Day Six. Trout Lake to Duncan Lake

Map of West Kootenay Motorcycle Route

All refreshed, caffeinated, and fuelled. If you’ve never gotten gas in Trout Lake, it’s a wonder to see the old pumps still functional and pumped by hand.

Perfect time of year to ride along Trout Lake, no traffic and no dust yet! A quick stop at the fisheries viewing platform, and off to Meadow creek.

motorcycles in the Marblehead Quarry

Vera had never been to the Marblehead Quarry, so that was a mandatory stop to look around. Always cool to stand inside the massive void in the rockface.

2 ktm motorcycles for camping

Unfortunately the Meadow Creek store was out of fuel, but luckily Lardeau Valley Service down the road still had some or we would have been in a real pickle. And it was at this point that we realized something was missing from Vera’s back. Yup, backpack got left at the fisheries platform. After doing a mental checklist of the contents for the pack,  the choice to carry on this late in the day without it was made. Up to Glacier Creek rec site for the night and a great visit with a rider from Argenta.

Duncan Lake is still super low, with lots of exposed sandy beach to rip around on.

Day Seven. Duncan Lake to Eagle Bay

Map of West Kootenay Motorcycle Route

With the intention of finishing the route from Grand Forks to Shelter Bay, we rolled back West to Trout Lake. Stopping to look for the missing backpack and boom! The woman there counting fish had grabbed it the day before and had it waiting for us. A happy Surprise indeed!

motorcycle gloves with heart rock

By the time we got to the Galena Bay Ferry, our bear count reached 10. Lots out and about and a good reminder to be aware. Down the West side of Upper Arrow Lake to the Eagle Bay rec site for the night. That site is awfully busy on the weekends and we’d definitely look for a more obscure site in the future.

Vera @missvelocity sitting on a rock at Eagle Bay

Day Eight. Eagle Bay to HOME!

Map of West Kootenay Motorcycle Route

Last day!! We were sorta getting used to this and didn’t really want it to end. But we had a wee dog to get back to and pick up. So, back south to the Arrow Lake ferry, across to Nakusp, and rip home through the Slocan Valley. So, in the end we rode a bunch of things we wanted to. And got stopped a bunch of times from doing other things we wanted to. But that’s OK, better than just waiting at home for the snow to melt….

Vera @missvelocity looking at a lake
Vera @missvelocity eating a salad

2 thoughts on “Ride Report – West Kootenays Bottom to Top”

  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing. Stumbled across this ride report and glad I did. Looks like you two had a good time.
    Thanks for sharing the map points as well. Planning a trip for this summer!
    Cheers

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