Slocan River Information
- SEASON: April through November
- RATING: Various sections - Class 1 through 3
(2- 2+ during high water, Class 3 below Crescent Valley to Shoreacres
- HAZARDS: Pilings from old logging operations which can be misleading and dangerous; cottonwood sweepers scattered along river
- INFORMATION: Smiling Otter Kayak & Canoe (250) 355-2373
- MAPS: Canadian NTS 82 F/5
- ACCESS:Halfway between Castlegar and Nelson is the junction of Highway 3A and Highway 6. Highway 6 runs along the Slocan River to Slocan City in the North. Seven bridges cross the Slocan River. All of them provide good access and parking for take-outs and put-ins. Shuttle service is available from Smiling Otter Kayak & Canoe in Slocan City.
The Slocan River flows out of Slocan Lake which lies nestled between the Goat Range and the Valhalla s in the mighty Selkirk Mountains. The river runs approx 55 km to its confluence with the Kootenay River between Castlegar and Nelson. The river formed a major transportation link to the bustling gold and silver mining areas of the Silvery Slocan in the 1890s. In the 1920s and 1930s again it played an important roll in the area development as a means of transporting logs from the mountains to sawmills in the south, hence the numerous pilings along the river. Pilings were used to prevent log jams. Today the river has become a playground for recreational canoes and kayakers. Canoes and kayakers ply the waters of the rivers while hikers, cyclists and cross country skiers take advantage of an old abandoned rail line which runs along the side of the river.Whether gliding down the river on a hot sunny day or skiing along the old rail line on a crisp, cold, clear winter day, the stunning scenery of the Slocan Valley makes it a worthwhile respite from a busy congested world.
- Slocan City to Lemon Creek
- Perry Siding to Winlaw Bridge
- Winlaw Bridge to Vallican Bridge
- Vallican Bridge to Crescent Valley
- Crescent Valley to Shoreacres
Slocan City to Lemon Creek
This is a very peaceful stretch of the Slocan River. Enjoy the pastoral farmland set against the backdrop of spectacular mountain vistas. The shallow reed and rush choked waterway teems with the waterfowl and wildlife of the Walter Clough Wildlife Reserve. Watch for osprey, eagles, geese, ducks, beavers and otters or stop and swim and the many beaches along the way.
DISTANCE: 8 kilometers
Peaceful section on the Slocan River
- TIME: 1 hour to ½ day
- RATING: Flatwater
- HAZARDS: Very few. The major hazard involves taking out at Lemon Creek. Log jams are below Lemon Creek. A small rapid at the take-out makes capsizing a possibility. At high water this is a serious outcome.
- PUT-IN: Slocan City Public Beach or Smiling Otter Kayak & Canoe or Bridge on Gravel Pit Road
Paddle upstream close to shore back to Gravel Pit Road or Smiling Otter to take-out.
- TAKE-OUT: Lemon Creek - below creek confluence or above dependent on skill level and water level
- UPPER TAKE-OUT is safer. It requires a longer walk up along Lemon Creek on a rudimentary trail with no markings to railway grade (approx. 200-300 meters). Please avoid stopping at the developed private property above the creek.
- LOWER TAKE-OUT is a very narrow 4 x 4 accessible road. It is found at the Lemon Creek rail trail parking lot on Kennedy Road and allows paddlers to drive close to the river. The danger at this take-out involves paddling through the confluence of Lemon Creek and the Slocan River, which at a higher water level is a Class 2 rapid immediately above an 8 km stretch of rapids and log jams.
Lemon Creek to Appledale - Not recommended
The section below Lemon Creek to Appledale is not recommended due to faster water, small rapids and various log jams and sweepers. It is deceptively dangerous.
Appledale to Winlaw
Appledale to Winlaw is a very good run for the total beginner. It is a calm moving water section through a reflective green pastoral setting. There is a sandy bottom and numerous beaches in the late season. Just before the Winlaw Bridge is a beautiful sandy beach on river right. This is the Winlaw Nature Park complete with bathrooms, picnic tables and a series of interpretive trails through a heavily treed wetland area.
- TIME: 1½ to 3 hours
- RATING: Flatwater
- HAZARDS: Virtually none - some sweepers
- PUT-IN: Perry's Bridge
- TAKE-OUT: Above Winlaw Bridge or Winlaw Nature Park
Winlaw Bridge to Vallican Bridge
This section is typified by small to medium rapids and strong current differential, numerous sweepers and some log jams. With moderate moving water canoe skills all can easily be avoided. During times of average water levels there are numerous sand and gravel beaches to stop and languish in the sun. Human development is much less visible along this section of the river. This section is a very nice introduction to wilderness river paddling.
- TIME: 2 ½ to 3 hours
- RATING: Class 2, 2+ in high water This is NOT a novice run in high water
- HAZARDS: Many log jams and sweepers. Moving water skills are required.
- NOTE: Use added floatation in canoes in moving water. Without added floatation rescue of your boat may be difficult on this section during periods of high water levels.
Vallican Bridge to Crescent Valley
This section is just great fun with many places to practice ferrying, eddy turns and surfing small waves. Intermediate moving water skills are required. This section of river is perfect for teaching both white water kayaking and canoeing.
- TIME: 2 to 3 hours
- RATING: Class 1 with some Class 2+ rapids
- HAZARDS: Some sweepers and small log jams are easily avoided. The main hazard on this section are wood pilings. They are deceptively dangerous to you and your canoe - AVOID THEM!
- TAKE-OUT: Crescent Valley Public Beach. This is the first point the river is clearly visible from Highway No. 6 traveling North from the junction of Highways 3A and 6.
Crescent Valley to Shoreacres
The lower Slocan River is a warm, clear, clean river with good fun for most of the year. Intermediate through expert paddlers always seem to be able to find some thrills on this section of the river. This section of the river has many large surf waves and holes which can keep you busy for hours.This is a white water run. The biggest drop can be portaged on river right by trail. All other rapids can be walked. Be aware that the trails cross private property and access may become an issue. There is almost always someone on the river on the weekends for information. Bring your gear and enjoy great fun!
- TIME: 1 to 3 hours
- RATING: 2+ to 3+ in high water
- HAZARDS: Some large holes and rocks but generally a clean safe run. Moderate to advanced moving water skills are required.