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On To The Idaho Peak Lookout – Forestry Tour

 Rich Burgess set a personal goal of visiting some of southern BC’s forestry lookouts including the one of Idaho Peak. The views are unmatched, and the ride up is often an adventure – especially if you are going to tackle it on a dresser. The other thing about visiting the towers is travelling through the remote country to get to them. The Slocan Valley is one such beautiful place.

Forestry lookouts are where you want to be for unsurpassed views—after all that’s why they were put there. I have terrific memories of Beaver Lookout near Salmo, BC. The views from there are truly fantastic. At night the stars seem to be just out of reach with hardly any atmosphere to make them blurry.

Last July I tried the Archibald Creek approach but the top was just out of reach. A tree about four or five inches in diameter lay across the rocky incline. Being by myself on a rather large bike (read hard to pick up) I decided not to try bouncing over. Maybe next time. A true dirt bike or ATV would have had no issue getting through, or a V-Strom rider if he had a chainsaw. 

So, Idaho Peak, close to New Denver, BC would be my next climb, and it’s also way up there at 2,000 metres. This time my friends Guy and Andrew  were there to enjoy it with me. I felt very confident we could make it, but… 

To get there, ride from New Denver on Highway Six, and then turn east on Hwy. 31A to Kaslo. After about eight km, turn south on the road to the old mining town of Sandon. Near the end of the village, turn south briefly, and then west on the gravel road marked “Idaho Peak.”

It’s a short two-kilometre hike along old ridgetop pack trails to the summit and the Idaho Peak Forestry Lookout Tower where there are amazing views of Slocan Lake, New Denver Glacier, Kokanee Glacier, Mount Cooper, and the towns of New Denver and Silverton. The ascent stretches over some 12 kilometres, and at the 10-km point there was a snowbank about a metre deep—July 8, damn!  

This trip was not without incident and it demonstrates how different things are on a bike. We had heard the road was good, and some locals thought it do-able on a Harley Dresser. In fact cars were getting up but there are some rocky switchbacks that would require a very determined and super-skilled bagger rider. 

The other thing is, it’s basically one lane, and meeting a four-wheeler can be an issue as Guy found out (the hard way). On a steep, shale covered section Andrew and then myself were passed by a car, which stopped for us, then inexplicably started back down while Guy was giving ‘er to make the hill. There were only two options for him to try: get by on the “cliff” side or the “mountain side.” He chose the wiser uphill side, though unfortunately a rock caught him and he slammed into the side hill. Guy was sore and had a bent luggage carrier, but at least the driver stopped and sent his kids to pick him up. 

It might sound like a total fail not getting to either peak but that’s not true. I personally had a lot of fun getting as far as I did, and still saw some beautiful country.

by Rich Burgess Canadian Biker Issue #312 



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