KOOTENAY DAY TRIP – Winlaw

Convenient and rewarding, only 45 minutes from Castlegar

Frog Peak

Remember those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer? Well, you can relive those special summers again and you won’t even have to travel back in time to do so.

Why not take a day trip to Winlaw, an easy, but spectacular 45-minute drive from Castlegar.

Before you head out though, don’t forget to pack up swimwear, sunscreen and a picnic lunch. Your camera is a must.

To get to Winlaw, simply take Hwy 3A from Castlegar to the Playmor Junction where Hwy 6 meets 3A. From Castlegar, take a left on Hwy 6 and prepare to be greeted by unsurpassed beauty.

Before you drive too far though, don’t forget to take in the beauty of Crescent Beach, a cooling haven which is a long time favourite of locals and visitors alike. From the highway, the sandy crescent-shaped beach is an easy walk for even hiking lightweights.

After cooling off in the pristine water, why not take a swim before heading out on your journey? If your appetite isn’t quite ready to gobble down goodies, don’t fret; there are plenty of places to stop along the Slocan River. Be careful though. Although most of the Slocan is a friendly stretch of water, some water does run swift during certain times of the year.

If you do like the challenge of rough water, a paddling outfitter is located right in Crescent Valley. Or why not visit Crescent Valley’s natural food store and stock up on wholesome goodies?

Driving Hwy 6 instills in one the awe of nature at its finest. From the iconic Frog Peak Mountain, also known as Sugarloaf Mountain, to the sudden appearance of moose or other wildlife, often with young ones in tow, the Slocan Valley has something to offer everyone. Keep that camera ready at all times because watching a moose or bear ford the river is, for some, a one-time experience.

About 15 kms north of the junction sits the welcoming community of Passmore and a bridge crossing the Slocan River. For now, don’t take that bridge; that’s reserved for your trek back home. But, it should be noted that the bridge marks the south entrance of Vallican, Drinnon Pass and the Little Slocan Lakes which are renowned for their brook trout and feisty rainbow fish.

Home to artists of great talent and vision, Vallican, while appearing sleepy in nature, is a vital and integral part of the valley.

After passing through Passmore, keep your eyes open for Winlaw. Prior to arriving in Winlaw, check out the vast expanse of rich farmland.

Winlaw is a tiny hamlet nestled among the mountains and trees, but don’t worry; you will know Winlaw when you get there. Its residents are an interesting mix of eclectic people searching for peace and tranquility while striving to be one with nature.

Well, it’s time to head home. But there’s plenty more to see along the way. Just before the Winlaw mini-mart, take a left hand turn. This road will lead you to the Winlaw Bridge, which crosses the Slocan River. Once you cross the bridge, turn left and get prepared for even more beauty. This is where you will begin to see imposing Frog Peak (Sugarloaf) planted firmly before you, breathtaking in its regal majesty.

Just follow the road down past greenhouses and more breathtaking sights. At one point, the paved road turns into gravel. Not to worry though; this road is passable in any type of weather and with any vehicle. If you haven’t eaten your basket lunch yet, there are still plenty of places for picnicking and swimming along the way.

Eventually the road will end and you can only turn right or left. Turn left. A right hand turn will lead you to the aforementioned Little Slocan Lakes, Drinnon Pass and the south entrance of Vallican. It’s best to save that trip for yet another day.

The left hand turn will take you across yet another bridge and will shortly bring you back to Hwy 6. At that point you have just completed a circle and will need to turn right on Hwy 6 to bring you back to the Playmor Junction.

This day trip can take you as little or as long as you want. It’s up to you.

But I guarantee that you will return to discover even more that the trip has to offer with each passing season.

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