The route's Boundary region lies entirely on rail trails.
Starting from the west, the region connects with the Okanagan at the height-of-land between McCullough and Summit Lakes on the Kettle Valley Railway, just east of the Myra Canyon. This portion of the KVR runs about 125 km - almost directly south - to the town of Midway.
At Midway, the KVR ends and the Columbia & Western Railway (C&W) begins. This rail trail travels about 77 km east to Christina Lake. Beyond, the route continues north on the C&W, gradually gaining elevation for another 35 km to the height-of-land at Farron Summit, where the Boundary region meets the West Kootenay region. The C&W continues another 45 km to Castlegar.
The rail trail corridors are owned by the Province of BC's Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO), administered by the Recreation Sites and Trails BC department, which oversees trails, recreational sites and campsites on crown lands and other provincial land assets (excluding Provincial Parks). The trail was donated to the province by CN with the vision of creating a non-motorized cross-country rail trail experience, particularly for bicyclists.
Trail conditions along the KVR and C&W are constantly changing and hard to predict - uncontrolled access to the trail by motorized vehicles in recent years has led to a major deterioration of the trail surface, and until a plan is implemented to solve this issue, trail users are encouraged to plan ahead for a challenging journey.
Trail information and most images sourced with great appreciation from TrailsBc.ca.
Mcculloch to Beaverdell
The trail between Summit Lake and the community of Beaverdell is fairly quiet, though the use of motorized vehicles along the trail - and conversion of trail into actual road - means that some sections of the trail have become challenging - with some serious washboard conditions. Bicycle riders without front suspension will get their bones rattled! However, views of the West Kettle River are outstanding.
A short detour into the village of Beaverdell provides access to a small general store and restaurant.
This piece of the route offers great views of the West Kettle River
Important: You will encounter many gates along the TCT in the Boundary region. These gates are in place for a reason, and riders should ensure to CLOSE the gates behind themselves. Closing the gates will ensure that livestock do not escape - preventing them from wandering to areas (such as the highways) which would be unsafe for them as well as drivers. The gates also prevent access of the trail by unauthorized motorized users. They are a small inconvenience to trail users, but they are necessary and should be respected.
Beaverdell to Midway
The route continues from Beaverdell to Midway along a combination of paved roads, gravel roads, gravel trail and dirt tracks - plus multiple cattle guards and gates - that will keep you on your toes! Like the KVR between McColloch and Beaverdell, the use of motorized vehicles along the trail - and conversion of trail into actual road - in this area means that some sections of the trail have become challenging - with some serious washboard conditions. The ride can be tiring, but the quiet pastureland provides beautiful views and many close encounters with farm animals. Be sure not to miss one of the highlights on the KVR; in the small community of Rhone is Cyclist's Rest (and WWII epitaph). Local - and lifelong - resident Paul Letard has built a replica caboose which offers toilets, drinking water, and a heated emergency shelter. Paul's hospitality is legendary - but perhaps not as legendary as his storytelling. Drop by and say hello!
Rounding a bend in the river, the trail arrives to the warm grasslands of Midway. The museum is a popular place to explore. Midway is often the stopping point for many travelers since the KVR technically ends here - but beyond lies another rail trail - the Columbia & Western. This section of rail trail sees much less traffic - particularly motorized use - and therefore trail surfaces are in surprisingly good condition.
Highlights on this section:
Cyclist's Rest in Rhone
Great camping in Kettle River Recreation Area
Midway Station and Museum
Midway to Grand Forks
The Columbia & Western Railway from Midway to Grand Forks begins as a pleasant stretch of trail with decent surface conditions along most of the route uphill to Eholt - and be sure to take a moment to check out the town of Greenwood when passing through. Large bell-shaped coal slag heaps (called "Hell's Bells" by the locals) are one of many attractions.
The Tunnel of Flags is located north of Greenwood at the highway crossing. Watch for traffic at this, as well as the other highway crossing just west of Eholt. Though little to nothing remains of Eholt Station, it once rested at the summit of the pass - and northernmost point between Greenwood and Grand Forks. Eholt became the CPR's divisional point and ore hauling headquarters. Due south and higher still was the growing city of Phoenix with its rich copper and gold mines; a branch line with spurs was built to carry Phoenix ores to local smelters. Eholt yards included a roundhouse, and powerful Shay locomotives which made daily trips to Phoenix. By 1920, an amazing 15 million tons of ores had been shipped, but the mines soon closed, and Eholt like Phoenix was abandoned.
Further east from Eholt, the north-facing forested area between to Granby tunnel can be a dark and perhaps gloomy place, but after turning south and passing through the tunnel, views of the Granby river valley below will lift your spirits! An emergency shelter is located immediately south of the tunnel with bunks and tables.
The Columbia & Western runs downhill from the flanks of Thimble Mountain at the Granby Tunnel, through the streets of Grand Forks.
Highlight on this section
Hell's Bells in Greenwood
Granby Tunnel (11 km east of Eholt Station)
Emergency Shelter (bunks and tables) immediately south of Granby Tunnel - with fantastic views of the Granby River
Grand Forks to Farron
The Columbia & Western trail follows the Kettle River between Grand Forks to Christina Lake before climbing the shoulder of Castle Mountain and taking in the views of Christina Lake at the old railway station of Fife and continuing north uphill to Farron Station, nestled in the Monashee Mountains.
Highlights on this Section:
Huge trestle over the Kettle River between Grand Forks and Christina Lake
Connection to the Dewdney Trail and Cascade Highway