The snow is melting and riders in Valemount are pulling their ATVs and side-by-sides out of hibernation. By mid-June, the season will be in full swing.
At this time of year, much of the riding is centred around Kinbasket Lake. Here, there is a seemingly endless supply of forest service roads and old resource roads, as well as four designated campgrounds. Using the campgrounds as a home base, riders can gain access to higher alpine areas, such as the Ptarmigan Valley and the Hugh Allen drainage. Both options begin with a scenic road ride along the east side of Kinbasket Lake before they wind their way into the backcountry.
Another great ride to try is West Side Road to Saddle Lakes. This route takes riders along the west shoreline of Kinbasket Lake to the Saddle Lakes where those with a fishing rod can try catching one of the lively little rainbow trout that occupy these waters.
Fishing, boating or a bit of both
Avid anglers can also try their luck on Kinbasket Lake. The lake is home to many species of fish—including bull trout, Dolly Varden and ling cod. But fishing is not all it’s good for.
Kinbasket is well suited for boating and swimming as well.
“It’s an absolutely beautiful lake to spend time on,” said Curtis Pawliuk, general manager of the Valemount and Area Recreation Development Association (VARDA).
While cruising along the shores, visitors are encouraged to watch for waterfalls along the shoreline. A boat launch, docks and campsites can be found at the Valemount Marina.
With the mountains on both sides, Kinbasket Lake is a tranquil spot to take a boat ride. — photo courtesy VARDA
A man-made treasure
Kinbasket Lake is 216 kilometres long but with the mountain ranges on either side, it seems endless. It is actually a man-made reservoir created by the Mica Dam (one of the largest earth-filled dams in the world).
Before it was completed in 1973, portions of the reservoir were logged prior to flooding. The reservoir also covers the historic Big Bend Highway—the original route through the Selkirk Mountains before the Trans-Canada Highway through Rogers Pass was finished.
Because it is a reservoir, the water level of Kinbasket Lake does fluctuate throughout the year, but it is usually at its fullest by August.
More ATV opportunities
Later on in the season when all the snow is gone, ATVers can try the Sea to Sky Trail up Canoe Mountain. A 30-kilometre ride, this trail follows an old road system, taking riders to an elevation of 2,621 metres. According to Tara Boyda, who is an ATV guide in Valemount, the view from the top is awe-inspiring.
“If the conditions are clear, one can even see Mount Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies at 3,964 metres,” said Boyda.
So whether you are a fisherman, water lover or an off-road enthusiast looking to reconnect with nature, Valemount is the place you’ll want to check out this summer.
For more information, see VARDA’s website.
Did you know?
Valemount started as a railway station at Swift Creek. In 1927, the station was moved a mile down the tracks and the town was renamed Valemount for “Valley in the Mountains.” Today, the now 100-year-old train station is home to the Valemount Museum.