Christina Lake has a disposition as sweet as the rolling hills that surround this classic Kootenay beauty. Launch a canoe or kayak from the beach in Gladstone Provincial Park and enjoy a paddle around the northern half of this popular lake. You’ll find wilderness campsites on sandy shores, if you care to spend a night under the stars.
If you’re lured to spend more than a day on the water, tackle the three-day, 30-mile (50-km) paddle from Procter near Nelson to Kuskanook on the south arm of Kootenay Lake. There are dispersed camping locations at pocket beaches and creek mouths, as well as formal campsites provided by BC Parks and the Recreation Sites and Trails BC. Among these are Irvine Creek and Wilson Creek Recreation Sites, and Drewry Point and Midge Creek Provincial Parks, all of which are marine access only. The lake can be windy, so an early-morning start is strongly recommended.
For a short trip on a big river, paddlers can access the Columbia River at the old ferry slip at Robson or Castlegar and take out in Trail at the municipal park, north of the bridge on the east side of the river. Allow one short day for this 18.5-mile (30-km), Class I or II trip. For a longer day, paddle on 12 miles (20 km) farther to Waneta, at the Canada-US border.
The adventurous might want to canoe the length of Slocan Lake (staying close to the western shore), which can take from two to five days. The shoreline has many attractive sand and cobble beaches to enjoy, and the park has nine camping areas with outhouses and bear-proof food caches. Valhalla Provincial Parkis a magnificent world-class wilderness area, including nearly 20 miles (30 km) of the pristine wilderness shoreline of Slocan Lake. Kayakers and boaters are warned that the lake can have treacherous winds, consult locals before setting out.
The Slocan River is a small river, with occasional rapids, in a rural setting. Although none of the rapids is particularly difficult (nothing over Class III), experience in reading and running whitewater is definitely required. Paddlers should be adequately equipped, know their abilities and limitations, and reconnoitre unfamiliar territory.
Intermediate-level paddlers might want to get a taste of the river between Slocan and Crescent Valley, a Class II, 50-mile (80-km) trip that will take one long day. To shorten the trip, the river may be accessed at any of the bridges along Hwy 6, particularly between Perry Siding and Slocan Park. The most technical portion of the river (Class III) is just north of its confluence with the Kootenay River, a 3-mile (5-km) stretch between Crescent Valley and Shoreacres, a popular play spot for kayakers and canoers. Put in at Crescent Valley and take out at Shoreacres, just downstream of the railroad bridge. Allow one to three hours.