The Slocan Valley is ripe with opportunities for enjoying the outdoors. Many residents have moved to the area for that very reason.
Swimming is popular in Slocan and Summit Lakes as well as some parts of the Slocan River (always know your currents!). Some brave ones start swimming in the larger Slocan Lake in June, but most wait until the lake’s deep water warms in July. Beaches on the east side are rocky, but across the lake in Valhalla Park you’ll find some sand.
Slocan has a sandy beach at the end of the main street, with a dock and small diving board. There is a boat launch adjacent to the beach area.
Bannock Point Recreation Site is 3 km south of Silverton. It is a fabulous swimming spot with large smooth rocks but does require a steep downhill hike. Hike-in campsites line the shoreline. Be sure to pack out what you pack in. Learn more through Recreation Sites and Trails online.
Silverton Day Park is a large, open landscaped area by the lake with picnic tables. Located in Silverton just a short distance west of Highway 6 (turn on 4th Street at the Museum intersection).
Centennial Park at the south end of New Denver has a swimming beach, public boat launch, beach volleyball court, children’s playground, sports fields, bocce court, washrooms, and a gazebo for community use. The park hosts the Hills Garlic Festival in September and May Days on the May long weekend. It is adjacent to the Kohan Garden and Centennial Municipal Campground.
Bigelow Bay Regional Park, on Slocan Lake at New Denver’s northern boundary, is a waterfront park used for beach recreation. No overnight camping. Access is from Kildare Street (parking is limited and not suited to recreational vehicles).
Rosebery Parklands is a 2.8-hectare waterfront access park on Slocan Lake in Rosebery, a few kilometres north of New Denver, used for beach recreation. A trailhead for Galena Trail is located here, with parking off Rosebery Loop Road.
Summit Lake Provincial Park has a day use area with a wonderful beach with picnic tables. The water is much warmer here than in Slocan Lake. Visit BC Parks online for more information, including location and park maps.
Crescent Valley Beach at the very southern end of the Slocan Valley is a popular swimming location and tubing take-out. Plans are underway to upgrade parking and facilities at this park. *Downstream is whitewater not suited to swimming.*
Safety First. None of these beaches are supervised and swimmers need to take responsibility for their actions. Public Access Liferings (PALs), containing lifesaving equipment for use in aquatic emergencies, are located by the boat launch in New Denver, in Bigelow Bay and at Coopers’ Beach in Silverton.
Provincial Wilderness Parks
Provincial Park Camping Reservations
For camping in provincial parks, use the Discover Camping Reservation Service to check campsite availability, reserve a campsite or yurt, and manage your bookings. 1-800-689-9025 or www.discovercamping.ca.
Goat Range Provincial Park
Goat Range Provincial Park (78,947 hectares) is a wilderness park between Slocan and Kootenay Lakes at the south end, and between Arrow and Duncan Lakes at the north end. It protects the only natural spawning site of the unique, internationally significant Gerrard rainbow trout and is critical in maintaining habitat for species such as grizzly bear, elk, mountain goat and mountain caribou. The park has old-growth forests, extensive alpine meadows and lakes, and numerous rivers and creeks. Pets must be on a leash at all times in this park.
Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park
Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park is a wilderness park with 85 km of well-marked trails in some of the most scenic mountain country found in the Selkirk Mountains. Kokanee Glacier Park (32,035 hectares) is a magnet for campers, hikers, backcountry skiers, snowshoers and climbers with all levels of outdoor experience. It has a mosaic of high peaks, snowfields, cirques and colourful lake basins. Some trails go back to the early mining days, offering hiking opportunities ranging from short day trips to challenging cross-country routes to historic cabins and old mine sites. This park also contains three reservable backcountry cabins. See link on website for up-to-date trail reports. Excellent skiing, good fishing and 30 walk-in wilderness campsites. Dogs are not permitted anywhere in this park.
Valhalla Provincial Park
Valhalla Provincial Park is a wilderness park on the west side of Slocan Lake, across from the inhabited eastern side. Residents of the Slocan Valley worked long and hard to get Valhalla Park established to protect the diverse topography, high peaks and unique vegetation typical of the Selkirk Mountains. Backcountry travellers have much to celebrate here in a 49,893-hectare park with plenty of hiking trails, beautiful waterfalls, stunning scenery, chances to see wildlife, good fishing, beachfront campsites, pictographs left by First Nations along the shore, and relics of the early mining era. The park takes in most of the Valhalla Range of the Selkirk Mountains, and is unique in its varying topography. Campsites are accessed by boat or by foot. Pets are only allowed on the Slocan lakefront sites and the Slocan to Evans Beach Trail and must be leashed at all times. Pets are not allowed in other backcountry areas of the park.
There are countless trails in the area for hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing. No matter what your fitness level, your choices are endless.
Links and Resources:
- Slocan Valley Map. For a list of trails and a map of the Slocan Valley showing trails, campgrounds and boat access, download this local map in our Resource Section. Page two of this document briefly details several local trails.
- Attractions and Museums Brochure. For a list of tour operators and rental opportunities, download this brochure on our Resource Section.
- Recreation Sites and Trails BC. For information about recreation sites and trails managed by the Province of BC, visit: www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca
- North Slocan Trails Society. For information about local trails contact the North Slocan Trails Society.
- New Denver Visitor Centre. Staff at the Visitor Centre in downtown New Denver can offer maps and directions.
- Where Locals Hike in the West Kootenays. This guidebook is available at Valhalla Pure Outfitters in New Denver.
Idaho Peak, for hiking only (no mountain bikes), is a favourite in July and August for spectacular alpine meadows bursting with wildflowers. A 12-kilometre-long single-lane road takes you to a parking lot that rapidly fills so an early morning start is advised. It’s a two-kilometre hike to the 2,224-metre summit from the parking lot and the whole trip takes about four hours. The view from the summit of mountains in all directions is awe-inspiring. Access is up a one-lane road with pullouts next to steep cliffs so it is not for the faint of heart, but can be done by 2-wheel-drive vehicles with high clearance. Check with the Visitor Centre in New Denver for current road conditions. This site is maintained by Recreation Sites and Trails BC – more information, including directions, can be found online at sitesandtrailsbc.ca.
The Galena Trail runs from Rosebery to Three Forks—a 13-kilometre section of old CPR rail right-of-way. It makes for excellent hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Hook your bike onto the small cable car that crosses Carpenter Creek at the old Alamo mine site, where you can see the remains of the old concentrator. Uphill from the concentrator is a derelict old house.
A hiker can get from Rosebery to New Denver in about 1 ½ hours, from New Denver to Three Forks in 2 ¼ hours.
- Access in Rosebery is from a parking lot accessed from Rosebery Loop Road.
- Access in New Denver is from Denver Siding, accessed from Denver Siding Road. From here head east toward Three Forks or north toward Rosebery (this means crossing Denver Siding Road and Highway 31A, then a little further northwest crossing Highway 6).
- Access at Three Forks is from Sandon Road, at the junction with Highway 31A (8km east of New Denver).
Slocan Valley Rail Trail
Part of the former CPR line, this trail extends over 45 kilometers from South Slocan in the south to Slocan in the north. A family friendly trail for hiking or biking in the summer or cross country skiing in the winter. Visit www.slocanvalleyrailtrail.ca for more information.
Access is from parking lots in:
- South Slocan off Highway 3A across from The Dam Restaurant & Bar;
- Crescent Valley off Pass Creek Road & Highway 6 across from The Frog Peak Cafe;
- Passmore off Passmore Upper Road;
- Winlaw off Winlaw Bridge Road;
- Appledale (North of Winlaw) off Perrys Back Road across from the Threads Guild;
- Lemon Creek off Kennedy Road; and
- Slocan’s northwest by the Gazebo at Main Street and Lake Avenue.
New Denver’s Lakeside Trail
Take your time exploring New Denver by foot. The Lakeside Trail connects to several local streets so you can easily loop from various points in town. North of Carpenter Creek is the Mori Lakeside Trail which can be accessed from Bellevue Street or Eldorado Street. Carpenter Creek west of Highway 6 is bordered by trails on each side, with an off-leash dog park to the south.
Slocan’s Owl Walk
Slocan’s Owl Walk was developed in 2015 protecting screech owl habitat and providing an educational walk along the riverside. Access is next to the Slocan Valley Rail Trail just north of Gravel Pit Road (which connects to Highway 6 south of Slocan).
Trail and road etiquette
Access to trails is often on single-lane rough roads that are sometimes only navigable by 4-wheel-drive vehicles. Some alpine roads are only free of snow from July to October. The right-of-way goes to the vehicle heading downhill. On multi-use trails, horses have the right of way, then people, then bikes, then motorized vehicles. It’s risky to take dogs on backcountry or alpine trails since they can draw angry bears back to you, can get lost and can threaten wildlife and livestock.