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Old West Routes
 

Use the Route tab to explore options by desired time and pace on the trail.  

Our Scouting Reports & GPS Tracklogs retrace the paths blazed to old west frontiers by early pioneers and prospectors. They left an ideal overland explores playground in their wake; remote pack trails, wagon roads, water routes, ghost towns, boom camp survivors, mine relics, colorful history and a spirit for adventure that inspires. 

 
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North American Overland Journeys
 

Location tabs are the fastest way to find geographic regions of interest and interconnected trails.

All of our Scout Reports and GPS Tracklogs flow continuously from one interesting region to another, state-to-state, province-to-province, nation-to-nation using as little pavement as possible, and when we do, it tends to be byways versus freeways.

 
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Go Deeper: Foot, Bike, Horseback & Watercraft
 

For many, self-reliant vehicle overlanding is the adventure. Others Go Deeper. 

All our Scouting Expeditions provide opportunity to hike, bike and backpack. Many routes also provide equestrian and watercraft journey extensions. We’ve flagged some favorites to inspire you to take your overland adventure to another level.

 
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Explore what fascinates you the most.
 

Every Scouting Expedition is researched to travel through Old West Frontiers rich with interesting trails, tales and relics. 

The roar of the rush has subsided, but imprints linger; ghost towns, abandoned rails turned to trails, surviving boomtowns that retain the charm of yesteryear continue to outfit today’s adventurers with supplies, historical lodging and spirits. Look deeper, and you will find signs of Native America.

 
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Choose Your Pace & Challenge
 

As most of our Scouting Expedition GPS Tracklogs are interlinked, the base route is most often Easy or Moderate, but we explore Difficult options along the way. Some can be overgrown and sometimes barley visible, making them that much more appealing for those looking to build that into thier own adventure. Three broad categories are used but beware, what is Easy today can be Difficult tommorow, due to environmental conditions (see Go Prepared). 

 
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Get Lost in the Journey
 

One of the greatest pleasures associated with 4WD vehicle overlanding is the ability to wander at will, as one trail leads to another in a maze of options. However, advance research can help you explore routes that fascinate you the most and can make the most of your time.

There is nothing wrong with using a map and compass for guidance. In fact, you should always have them with you. But GPS technology and affordable mapping software really empower you to free-flow and always have a sense of where you are, at all times.

 
British Columbia Kootenay 'Silvery Slocan' Journey
Region is an island of rugged mountains, bordered by creeks, rivers and lakes

British Columbia Kootenay 'Silvery Slocan' Journey

Discovery of a “sliver ledge so wide you could drive a wagon down it” and a “20-ton solid silver boulder” in the 1890’s, created incredible excitement around the world. Surrounded by long lakes, rivers and mountains, Sternwheelers provide the only access during the boom years, and for some communities as late as 1957. This helps explain why this region is still insulated from the outside world. Three of five entry roads require ferry links that deters many travelers seeking faster routes – all the better for those looking to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

Explore network of 100 year-old wagon roads, pack trails in a region 1800’s explorer David Thompson described as "Stupendous and solitary wilds...”

THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT
Surrounded by Water & Humidity, the “Silvery Slocan” Feels Like a Lush Coastal Forest

Trek Stage A East Kootenay Gateway 

The head of a 11-leg Journey, starts in the region know as the warm side of the Canadian Rockies. Explore 1888 North West Mounted Police-Fort Steele, Wild Horse Gold Rush Relics and Grey Creek Pass, a great backdoor gateway into West Kootenay.

Trek Stage B Kootenay Lake & Kokanee Glacier

Resupply and recreate in lakeside boomtown survivors before exploring network of 100-year old mining wagon roads to primitive campsites, fishing lakes, hiking-backpacking trails to lush alpine basins and rugged peaks. Most of the massive lake shoreline is only accessible by watercraft, an ideal extension to your overland journey.. 

Trek Stage C  Slocan “Valley of the Ghosts”

A region so thick with relics, it was coined “Valley of the Ghosts”. Off-road vehicle enthusiasts looking for a road less traveled through this mystical region are rewarded with such options as the exhilarating over-the-top Retallack to Cody Wagon Road, the Rambler-Cariboo Mine Wagon Road and London Ridge Mine Trail that shoots up the Goat Mountain Range. Hikers and Bikers follow abandoned rail beds from the ghost town of Sandon to Payne Bluff and down Gelena Trail. 

 Trek Stage D Kootenay “Silver Slocan”

Old sternwheeler ports and wagon roads lead to wilderness camps in lush forests with peak-a-boo views of the Valhalla Mountains. Abandoned C&KRR runs the length of the Slocan waterway for bikes and is a motorized trail above New Denver. Route drops down the valley via the peaceful Perry Siding bypass along Slocan River, an ideal playground for swimmers, floaters and paddlers, before traveling to the alpine gold rush city of Rossland.

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Trek Stage A : British Columbia East Kootenay Gateway Trail Series  
Ft. Steele got its start as town of Galbrieths' Ferry before the North West Mounted Police built their fort - 60 buildings remain

British Columbia East Kootenay Gateway Trail Series


WILD HORSE GOLD RUSH, 1888 NORTH WEST MOUNTED POLICE FORT  & GREY CREEK PASS BACKDOOR TO KOOTENAY LAKE 

Trek Series carries on from the Idaho-Montana Journey, crossing into Canada at Rooseville and follows the Kootenay River to Ft. Steele, and trails around the 1860’s Wild Horse Gold Rush. The first leg travels through the sunny, wide-open Columbia Valley that provides vistas of Canadian Rockies to the east and the Purcell Mountains to the west. Second Leg travels past the historical Ktunaxa Nation St. Eugene Mission, now turned resort, loops into Perry Creek Gold Rush territory before taking the Grey Creek Pass over-the-top of the Purcell Range. This remote access to West Kootenay is only open several months of the year due to high snow pack (alternate provided). The trail explores the East Shore of Kootenay Lake before taking BC Ferry across to the old sternwheeler landing of Balfour.

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Trek Leg 1 : US Border to Fort Steele  

Travel through Columbia Valley know as ‘The Sunny Side of the Rockies’ to the heart of the 1863 Wild Horse Gold Rush

US Border to Fort Steele

This Leg leaves Idaho-Montana Journey to travel along Lake Koocanusa and Kootenay River to an outstanding restored boomtown and North West Mounted Police post. Fort Steele got it start as the town of Galbrieths' Ferry, a supply center to the Wild Horse Gold Rush of 1863. While at the Fort, pick up a Gold Pan and try your luck while camping along the soothing shores of Wild Horse Creek. Nearby Cranbrook, a huge rail hub for the CPR at the turn of-the-century continues to be the biggest commercial center in the Columbia Valley, if you need to resupply or get repairs done. It’s also home to a great collection of old rail cars. Rating: Easy. Travels mostly on paved byways and gravel roads, but there are several options to explore old wagon trails around the 1860’s Wild Horse.

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Trek Leg 2 : Ft. Steele to Crawford Bay  

Grey Creek Pass that climbs over the Selkirk Mountain range is only open several months a year due to heavy snowpack

Ft. Steele to Crawford Bay

Refresh your party at the 1873 St. Eugene Mission, turned resort. Choose the paved byway via Creston or take the gravel-dirt Grey Creek Pass over-the-top of the Selkirk range, down steep switchbacks to the West Kootenay Crawford Bay. The alpine ski resort of Kimberley is the gateway to Grey Creek Pass. It’s an old mining community formed for the Sullivan Mine, now played out but offers underground mining railway tours. Head to the community town square to resupply and enjoy the vaudeville show and a bite to eat. Experienced, self-sufficient wilderness hikers and backpackers can take an optional side trip to pristine Purcell Wilderness Conservancy before heading over the pass. Rating: Easy gravel and dirt, but only open during summer - alternative route through Creston.

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Trek Stage B : British Columbia Kootenay Lake & Glacier Series  
The streams and rivers from the Purcell and Selkirk Mountains drop into the 130km/80 Mile long pristine lake.

British Columbia Kootenay Lake & Glacier Series

FREE SPIRIT MOUNTAIN CULTURE AT ITS BEST, MASSIVE PRISTINE LAKE, EXTENSIVE TRAIL & WATEROUTE NETWORK 

A hippy haven since the 60’s, the area continues to attract like minded and other free spirits; artisans, mountain bikers, hikers, outdoorsman and old miners that gravitate to less commercialized environments. Visit Kaslo, Ainsworth Hot Springs and the Queen City of Nelson, to experience Kootenay culture and resupply before hitting the extensive trail network. Most of the pristine shoreline is only accessible by watercraft, making water-sports, remote sandy beach skinny-dipping and marine camping an ideal extension to your overland expedition. At the heart of the region is Kootenay Glacier Provincial Park where old mine trails provide access to historical cabins, fishing lakes, wildlife spotting and rugged peaks that lure back-county enthusiasts.

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Trek Leg 3 : Balfour to Sasquatch Lake  

Nelsons ‘Mountain Culture’ urban experience, hitting the sandy beach or heading back into the wilderness will have you torn. Make time for all if you can.

Balfour to Sasquatch Lake

Disembark the Kootenay Bay to Balfour Ferry and go straight to Kookanee Creek Provincial Park’s huge sand-spit beach or drive up to Kookanee Glacier Park for some incredible craggy peak hikes. Looking for a more secluded wilderness camp experience, drive up 100-year old mining roads and camp along the route in a lush forest or beside a secluded mountaintop lake. Alternatively, stay on byway 3A to Nelson and experience urban Kootenay Mountain Culture, at its best.

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Trek Leg 4 : Sasquatch Lake to Kaslo  

Sternwheelers provided only access during boom years, and for some communities as late as 1957. Today three of five entry roads require ferry links; helps explain why region is still insulated from the outside world.

Sasquatch Lake to Kaslo


Route drops down from the serene forest leading to Sasquatch Lake and travels along the serpentine shoreline past historical Sternwheeler Landings and marinas that continue to launch watercraft of all kinds, looking for day or overnight treks, on the 260-km/160-miles of Kootenay Lake shoreline. Stop in Ainsworth Hot Springs Caves open for public swims, before traveling uphill for a spelunking expedition into the million year old Cody Caves. Carry on to Kaslo, the historical base of the Kootenay Railway & Navigation company, where the last sternwheeler to ply the Kootenay’s waters is retired. Rating: Easy

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Trek Leg 5 : Kootenay Marine Camping  

Most of 260-km/160-miles of shoreline is only accessible by watercraft, making it an ideal extension to your vehicle-based overland expedition

Kootenay Marine Camping

Many of the beaches are sandy while others are rock bottom, and yet others studded with large boulders and cliffs for diving. Serene and pristine, it is rare to find such a wide array of secluded beaches that are open to the public for day use or overnight marine camping. While remote campsites abound, historical sternwheeler stops continue to serve a fine meal, a dip in a hot spring… or keep it wild, with a walk up a rock strewn creek or dramatic waterfall… and on to the your next beach campsite for the night.

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Trek Stage C : British Columbia Slocan 'Valley of the Ghosts' Series  
There are few off-road trails where a vehicle can get you eye-to-eye with rugged peaks - Awesome!

British Columbia Slocan 'Valley of the Ghosts' Series

A REGION 1807 EXPLORER DAVID THOMPSON DESCRIBED REGION AS ‘STUPENDOUS AND SOLITATY WILDS…’

On September 9, 1891, a French circus hi-wire performer come prospector, Eli Carpenter and partner John Seaton made the first big discovery of Silvery ore that assayed as high as 400 oz. silver per ton. Soon prospectors, tinhorns, gamblers, confidence men and railway titans rushed to Sandon, the heart of the ‘Silvery Slocan’. They left in their wake; an ideal overland explores playground, remote wagon roads, pack-train trails, ghost towns, mine-relics and a colorful history.  Off-road vehicle enthusiasts looking for a road less traveled though this mystical region are rewarded with the exhilarating Retallack to Cody Over-the-top Wagon Road, Rambler-Cariboo Mine Wagon Road and London Ridge Mine Trail to the top of the Goat Mountain Range. Go deeper on Idaho Peak Trail, an easy but awe-inspiring hike, as are abandoned railway hikes/bikes on N&S Galena Trail or K&S Payne Buff. The Wakefield Mining Trail challenges up-hill hikers and downhill bikers.

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Trek Leg 6 : Kaslo to Retallack  

Kalso is an ideal base camp or springboard to Kootenay Glacier Park, Valley-of-the-ghosts or up to Lardeau Country for a stay at the 1897 Windsor Hotel.

Kaslo to Retallack

Kaslo was the eastern port to the “Silver Slocan”, home base to the feisty K&S narrow gauge that took on the CPR by linking the U.S. via Sternwheelers and rail barges. The boomtown of Kaslo survives, as does the last sternwheeler that plied the waters of Kootenay Lake. False front stores of-the-day continue to supply overlanders for their adventures by land and water. The sternwheeler landing continues to launch watercraft suited to open waterways, such as the Kaslo Shipyards unique houseboat charters. Retrace the K&S rail bed or the wagon road built to the mines, enjoy the beaches, water sports, a fine meal or freshen up with a stay in the Kaslo Hotel. Rating: Easy with Moderate options.

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Trek Leg 7 : Retallack-Cody Over-the-top Trail  

A region so thick with relics, it was coined “Valley of the Ghosts”. Off-road vehicles can retrace the exhilarating over-the-top Retallack to Cody wagon road passes interesting mines and jaw dropping mountain views.

Retallack-Cody Over-the-top Trail

Route travels over-the-top of Reco Mountain to Cody, terminus of Kaslo & Slocan Railway and on to Ghost Town of Sandon, once the commercial heart of the 'Silver Slocan'. Starts with drive up Jackson Basin, to heart-stopping option that climbs high and steep before dead-ending on the backside and top of Reco Mountain. Double back to Washington Mine where several other motorized trails can be explored before taking the wagon road that climbs over top and down the 28 switchbacks to Cody. Entire route provides outstanding views of the Goat, Kokanee and Kootenay Range. Rating: Easy on first portion, Moderate to Difficult for Over-the top trail depending on season/erosion. Stock short wheel based utility vehicles can be used with experienced drivers that are not afraid of ledge roads and heights. Best taken in late summer to avoid having to turn back due to remaining snowpack. Be prepared to encounter fallen trees and wash outs, particularly early year. Difficult for last half mile of optional backside and top of Reco Mountain. 

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Trek Leg 8 : Retallack to Sandon and the Kaslo & Slocan Rail Trail  

A region flush with trails to explore; old wagon roads and abandoned rail beds that lead to interesting mines, ghost towns and incredible mountain top views, alpine meadows and wilderness campsites.

Retallack to Sandon and the Kaslo & Slocan Rail Trail

The race to the mines turned into a clash of two Railway Titans, J.J. Hill for the Great Northern, and Cornelius Van Horne of the CPR. Out route follows these railways in two deep and long valleys to Sandon, once the heart of the Silvery Slocan; the Great Northern Kaslo & Slocan on one side of the valley and the CPR’s Nakusp & Slocan on the other. Portions are open to motorized vehicles while others can only be accessed by hike or bike. The most interesting starts in Sandon and follows the K&S to the iconic Payne Bluff trestle, down the Three Forks ghost town switchback pack trail to the CPR’s N&S that follows Carpenter Creek, all the way down to New Denver. Overlanders looking for more challenge and breathtaking views can take the Rambler-Cariboo wagon road to the alpine mine once linked to the K & S by Tram Line or you can take the London Ridge Mine Trail that shoots up the Goat Mountain Range, from the N&S rail line. Rating: Easy via Three Forks, with Difficult side trip options. 

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Trek Leg 9 : Sandon & Trails of Idaho Peak  

Explore the ghost town of Sandon as you drive to Idaho Peak for breathtaking views of the entire Slocan Valley and Kootenay Glaciers

Sandon & Trails of Idaho Peak

Sandon was an incredible mountain city before fire and flood react havoc. Over a dozen structures survive including the 1900 city hall and the oldest operating hydroelectric powerhouse in BC that serves mines, to this day. Follow the trail from the K&S railway station to the Payne Bluff hike/bike. A drive to Idaho Peak trailhead and an easy hike is rewarded with views normally only available to alpine climbers. If you want to earn the views you can take the Wakefield Mine Trail that up from the valley floor near New Denver or take it downhill for an aggressive bike run. The Nakups & Slocan, an outstanding Rail-to-trail, passes under the Alamo Concentrator and replaces the crumbled trestle over Carpenter Creek with a cable car, as it makes it way to the Slocan Lake sternwheeler landing. Rating: Easy.

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Trek Stage D : British Columbia Kootenay Silver Slocan Series  
Extensive collection of mining relics displayed beside Sternwheeler Port of Silverton

British Columbia Kootenay Silver Slocan Series

OLD STRERNWHEELER PORTS & WAGON ROADS TO LUSH FOREST CAMPS WITH PEAK-A-BOO VALHALLA MOUNTAIN VIEWS

Explore a network of trails to old silver discoveries that pepper the upper east shore of the Slocan Lake, a backdoor to Kootenay Glacier Wilderness. Marine campers enjoy the mostly unsettled 150 km/92 miles of shoreline staring as Flatwater and progressing to Class 3 Whitewater. The Columbia & Kootenay rail-bed runs the length of the waterway for bikes and is open to motor vehicles above New Denver, as are wagon roads fanning out from the Sternwheeler landings of New Denver, Silverton and Slocan City. As you drop down the valley into farm bench lands, the route follows the peaceful Perry Siding bypass along the waterway before traveling on to the alpine gold rush City of Rossland.

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Trek Leg 10 : New Denver-Perry Back Rd.  

Old West false-front stores continue to outfit overlanders touring lakeshore boomtowns or deep wilderness above

New Denver-Perry Back Rd.

New Denver, once the CPR’s Western Sternwheeler Gateway to the Slocan, survives – a peaceful and enjoyable place to visit, as is the neighboring port of Silverton. Old West false-front stores continue to outfit watercraft cruising the 150 km/92 miles of shoreline or driving up historical mining roads, to a region once crisscrossed with Tramlines.  Mining ruins peak through thick forests that are rapidly reclaiming the wilderness. Out of Silverton, Four Mile Creek Road provides access to the Wakefield Mine Trail, a steep hike up the backside of Idaho Peak. Silverton Creek Road leads to a backdoor to Kootenay Glacier Park, a very remote and deep wilderness experience. Abandoned C&KRR runs along the waterway from Slocan south for bikes and is a motorized trail above New Denver. Stop at Bannock Point, where the locals swim and dive, before you drop down to Slocan City and the peaceful Perry Siding Bypass. Rating: Easy with Moderate options.

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Trek Leg 11 : Perry Back Rd to Rossland  

Swim, float or paddle down the slow moving waters of the Slocan River or challenge yourself as they turn to whitewater, on your way to the City of Gold, Rossland.

Perry Back Rd to Rossland

The Slocan waterway runs 75km/46 miles, a playground for paddlers, starting as Flatwater and progressing to Class 3 Whitewater. The calm waters along Perry Creek Back Road are ideally suited to swimming and floating. At Castlegar, bikers follow the C&WRR Rail-trail west through a series of tunnels, one of which is 912 meters/ half mile long. Two railroad tycoons raced to reach the gold on Red Mountain and left Bikers an interesting rail-trail network to reach Rossland, Mines like the LeRoi helped earn the ‘City of Gold’ moniker. Years later, the trails left in the wake of the strike have earned a new crown; Mountain Bike Capital of Canada. A full-time crew maintains, maps and classifies the huge network of Cross-country, Freeride and Downhill trails. Rossland has resisted commercialization and retains its unique Mountain Culture. Steep roofs and steeples ensured the heavy snowpack would not crush roofs, leaving the community with a distinct alpine feel. Rating: Easy. 

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OverlandFrontier.com Must Come To An End

It is with a heavy heart that we must advise our supporters that we are forced to close the Overland Frontier website. While the site was only open for one year, we started development many years earlier. Since that time the importance of a mobile friendly website has increased. We hope we can be back one day, with a new and improved resource for overland routes. We have so many more Treks, Journeys and Expeditions that we did not have time to showcase. We are anxious to find a new mobile-friendly channel to share these routes with other enthusiasts and we are open to ideas and partners; contact rogermercier@me.com

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