There is so much to do west of Kaslo off Highway 31A. Take the Kaslo River trail just outside of town, stop by Retallack to see what’s left of the historic buildings – which are now private residences (please take your photos from the Hwy), do some fishing and have a picnic at Fish or Bear lakes, walk the K&S River trail. Interested in ghost towns? Then be sure to check out Sandon. If you keep heading west of Sandon, you eventually get to New Denver BC where Slocan Lake is situated.
The Galena Trail
Converted from the old Nakusp & Slocan Railway line, the Galena Trail is a beautiful, non-motorized recreation trail which covers 13 km from Rosebery to Three Forks (at the Sandon turnoff). The trail connects to a local network of other trails, and features an easy grade, a lakeshore section, cable car over a creek, picnic tables, and historic sites. Explore the trail on foot, bicycle or horseback, free from the noise and commotion of modern living. For more information contact the Village of New Denver at 250-358-2316.
In the 1890s, Sandon sprang into existence as Canada’s richest silver mining community. The frenzied rush and wild speculation that surrounded Sandon equalled the magnitude of any of the great gold rushes. Millions of dollars in silver, lead and zinc were taken out in the first half of the twentieth century. Before the bubble burst, Sandon had grown to a city of 5,000 with 29 hotels, 28 saloons, banks, two railways and dozens of stores and businesses. One of city’s unique features was a boardwalk built over top of Carpenter Creek which was flumed right down the middle of a downtown street! Sandon’s decline began in 1899 with a long series of labour problems, followed in 1900 by a devastating fire in the downtown area. Although rebuilding did occur, Sandon never again reached its former prominence. Declining metal prices and the exhaustion of several of the major mines caused Sandon to eventually become a near ghost town.
Today you can see the original city hall built in 1900, and some historic homes, along with the museum, the Silver Smith Power Plant and the “Red Light District”. The Sandon Historical Museum houses a collection of items from everyday life as it was in Sandon, during and after its heyday. Stroll through historic Sandon any time. The museum, with its history retold in artifacts and photos, is open mid-June to mid-September, seven days a week.
Midway between New Denver and Kaslo, you’ll see the abandoned buildings which mark the former townsite of Retallack, a thriving mining and sawmill town in the 1890s. It is a beautiful drive to Retallack and a favourite for bicycle and motorcycle enthusiasts.
This trail begins at the top of Zwicky Road in Kaslo and continues all the way to Bear Lake, headwaters of the Kaslo River. The majority of this trail is wide and has gradual incremental elevation gains. If you do not want to start at the beginning of the trail, this historical old highway and the old K&S Railway bed can be accessed from a variety of places along Highway 31A. After Fish Lake (30 km west of Kaslo) there is a 11 km highway trek, until you get to Three Forks by Sandon, where you can hook up to the Galena Trail. Th e Wagon Road is a wonderful trail to run, walk, mountain bike, snowshoe or cross country ski along, and is designated as an ‘all uses’ trail. As such, ATV and snowmobile enthusiasts also use the trail. The Kaslo to Sandon Rails to Trails Society manages the Wagon Road trail. The long-term vision of the society is to create an off -pavement trail all the way from Kaslo to Nakusp, involving the Slocan Valley, New Denver and Nakusp trail societies. They are almost there!
Mount Buchanan Lookout
From Kaslo, head west towards New Denver on Highway 31A for 10 km to the Blue Ridge Forest Service Road, then follow the signs. Follow the main road for 11.9 km to the lookout, staying right at the 7 km junction. Th is road can be driven in a high clearance 2wd vehicles if the conditions are dry – but you’re always better off with 4wd sport utility or pickup. The Buchanan Lookout is a high elevation day-use site. It features a refurbished forest fi re watch tower. This is a great spot for family oriented outings; views are spectacular and flowers are lovely in season. There is also a 2 km loop trail below the lookout that provides access to viewpoints on the rock bluffs.
Easy walk through a grove of giant cedars. Drive to Retallack on Hwy 31A. Turn left at the Retallack Lodge sign, cross the bridge and park. Distance from Kaslo: 30 minutes west of Kaslo on Hwy 31A. Season: April – November.