Distance: 8.1 km
Features: Wildlife Sanctuary, First Nation Habitat Site, Close River Access, Slocan Beach
At Lemon Creek, the old train bridge has been re-decked and railed to handle bicycles, hikers, skiers and horses instead of the trains it once carried. The last train crossed this bridge in 1993.
You have probably noticed series of ‘pilings’ in the river. These wooden posts were pounded into the river bed about a century ago to guide the logs that were floated down the river to small sawmills. In days gone by, the river and not the highway was the main way to transport logs.
Consider that for several thousand years, native villages dotted the shorelines between here and Lemon Creek, canoes plied these waters harvesting the salmon that spawned here until the early part of the 20th century when dams on the Columbia River system prevented their migrations. Evidence of the pit-house dwellings dot the shoreline. Look for the interpretive display 1.5 kms north of Lemon Creek.
After passing through the “Slocan Narrows” you reach the Walter Clough Wildlife area. In the spring and fall, geese, ducks and other waterfowl rest here on their migratory journeys. In winter this area can be the home of hundreds of trumpeter and tundra swans, geese and ducks because of the easily accessible food the river marsh offers. It’s a drawing card to winter skiers who show up by the score.
As the bay gives way to pasture land with grazing horses, look to the east side of the trail where a large hay field was the site of the Popoff Farm Internment Camp between 1942 and 1945. Picture rows of hastily constructed wooden shacks thrown up to house some of the thousands of Japanese Canadians forcibly relocated to the Kootenays in 1942. A commemorative plaque was place here in 2012, as at Lemon Creek, to recognize this sad part of our history.
Heading north along the rail trail in this area a wide bay of the Slocan River brushes up against the rail trail. Look for waterfowl, herons, beaver, river otters and deer as you take in the vista of river, farms and wetlands. All against the backdrop of the Valhalla Park.
Just before you reach the northern end of the Rail Trail, you’ll pass the newly opened Owl Walk. The Walk is prime habitat for the Western Screech Owl. There are a series of pathways, information signage, covered amenity area and picnic area. An easy break from your ride along the Trail.
The Gazebo on Slocan Lake is a scenic , dramatic spot from which to begin or end your journey on the Slocan Valley Rail Trail. Located in the Village of Slocan, you can take advantage of one of the two beaches or use the boat launch to strike out on Slocan Lake. All amenities in the historic Village of Slocan are within easy walking or cycling distance, including camping. From this lakefront, CPR train cars were once loaded onto barges to connect to the rail line about 25 kms north at Rosebery. Until the 1920’s, a paddle wheeler docked here and was the only transportation connection between the communities on Slocan Lake. Huge pilings are all that remain of that era and are a playground for swimmers in the summer.
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