Columbia and Western Trail – Trans Canada Trail

With the weather starting to warm up in the Kootenays we have been starting to play hookey from the grind of work and school to fit in some kayaking and dirt biking. While the boys have been tackling lots of local single track and steep, rocky terrain I’ve decided that it just doesn’t make dirt biking fun for me. The great news is that we have found the perfect trail for me – the Columbia and Western Trail, which is a component of the Trans Canada Trail and runs 162 km from Castlegar to Grand Forks.

On the Castlegar end the trail starts at the base of the Arrow Lakes alongside all the log booms for the Mills. It is a safe place to park and leave a vehicle with lots of room for trailers as well.

As a rail trail, the trail is very level with no more than a 2.2% grade at the steepest point. It made for very easy riding and we were pretty much alone the entire time, thanks to it being a weekday afternoon. It is a multi-use trail so important for motorized to give way to non-motorized and especially to stop for the horse riders so you don’t spook the horses.

The trestles were impressive and very well maintained. Not quite as many or as tall as when we rode the Kettle Valley Rail Road Trail near Kelowna, but still quite beautiful and impressive engineering.

We went through three tunnels each way- two were fairly easy but the third was long enough that you really needed some extra light to see and help manage through the wet vs dry areas of the trail. They boys were fine as they have lights on their bike – my first time through I was not happy being in the dark so on our way back through Hunter generously rode behind me to shine his light and help decrease my stress level.

We made it about 20 km down the trail, so 40 km round trip. It was just right for my first ride of the season. It will be great to continue to explore various aspects of the trail and hopefully make it the entire length by the end of the fall.


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