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Old 08-29-10, 10:42 AM   #1
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British Columbia Friends - Help with Possible Route?

I'm pondering my summer tour for next year. One of my favorite spots is the panhandle of Idaho. I also have a close friend in Omak, Washington whom I'd like to visit. I discovered a route called the Selkirk Loop that goes from Sandpoint, Idaho, up into B. C. around Kootenay Lake, then back down to Sandpoint.

I was thinking of adding to the loop by starting in Omak, heading north across the border to Osoyoos, then heading east to join up with the Selkirk Loop. Then down to Sandpoint and back to Omak to pick up my truck.

I know the roads in Washington and Idaho pretty well, but I have no idea about riding conditions and roads in B. C. On the map it looks like I would take Highway 3 east to Castlegar, then head northeast on 3A and 6.

Any comments? Alternatives? Are those highways okay for bicyclists?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-29-10, 03:32 PM   #2
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Ha! I drove much of this route in May (Bonners Ferry ID to Castlegar, 3A and 6 to the north end of Slocan Lake, back down to Castlegar and into Washington State via Trail BC), and did a couple of short rides near the towns of Salmo and New Denver. The roads were fine -- traffic wasn't heavy, there was often a decent shoulder, and where there wasn't it didn't look like a nailbiting situation.

It's gorgeous territory. You'll know already that this is the Canadian Rockies and there are some huge hills to negotiate.

Check out the Doukhobor Museum in Castlegar!
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Old 08-29-10, 07:47 PM   #3
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Wow, I had no idea what you were talking about and I couldn't for the life of me figure out on the map what you were trying to do and then I remembered how many people whimped out and added a huge detour because they were afraid of a little hill known as the Kootenay Pass. Just this summer I rode Hwy3 the entire length from Medicine Hat, Alberta to Hope, BC and it was great. Check my journal out starting here ( and make your way backwards one day to here ( You'll be able to take Hwy3 from the border at Osoyoos to Creston the entire way before heading south and save many kilometers by not going around Kootenay Lake.

Yes, you'll avoid the "hardest" pass in BC by doing the whole Hwy6 and 3A thing but the Kootenay Pass between Salmo and Creston isn't that bad. Take it early morning before the heat sets in and it will be easy. Oh, and the roads on Hwy3 on that stretch are in great shape with a good shoulder.
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Old 08-29-10, 08:12 PM   #4
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I have driven through that entire region with an eye to bicycling it. Maybe some day.

The area around Osoyoos (Okanagan Valley) is desert and a bit remote. You may have to travel far to get from town to town, find water, etc. Carry lots of water! The Kootenays, too, have areas with a lot of miles between services. I remember both areas as hilly, especially the Okanagan Valley. But the scenery in both areas is unsurpassed!

There were forest fires galore the summer I was there, and the air was almost unbreathable over huge swaths of the land. It might be best to do this type of trip at the end of August or early September, when the weather is a little cooler and the fires, if any, have abated.
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Old 08-29-10, 08:34 PM   #5
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The roads in BC are pretty good, probably nicer than Idaho. You will love that hill climbing out of the valley east from Osoyoos.
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Old 08-30-10, 08:55 AM   #6
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In 2007 we drove and did day rides on both sides of the border in the Idaho panhandle. Picked up the International Selkirk Loop Map created by if you do not have that map or cannot obtain one from the organization I would be happy to send it to you. [just supply a mailing address in a private message.]

I also have an older guide called the North Idaho Loop Tour Guide from the N. Idaho Travel Committee Region 1 Idaho Travel Council in Coeur d'Alene. Phone listed as 208-769-1537. it describes a variety of loop trips. Again happy to send it with the other one above if you cannot get them elsewhere.

I/We enjoyed the day tandem rides with low traffic volumes and good road surfaces and wide shoulders much of the time. In BC Rossland is a lovely area particularly for mountain biking. Further East the Fernie and Sparwood areas along the Flathead Drainage now part of the Canadian Divide Ride extension is just beautiful As is the Kananaskis Provincial Park area to the North. I first rode through these areas in 1986 on the way to Alaska starting in Glacier NP heading N. Along the Flathead on gravel and dirt roads. Still one of my favorite areas of all time. Enjoy the planning and the doing.

. IIRC you ride an LHT so much of the off pavement surfaces in these areas are manageable with 700x45 tires with a touring load.

Last edited by arctos; 08-30-10 at 09:01 AM. Reason: Spelling
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