The Three Range Route

Climbing up Springer Creek

The Three Range Route is an incredible gravel ride through the Kootenays and links up the Slocan, Kokanee and Bonnington Ranges. This 175 km loop with 5000m of climbing over a variety of surfaces is sure to provide an incredible adventure. Feasibly it can be done as either a one or two day trip as both Nelson and Slocan are cool places to hang out and swim for an afternoon.

Black Prince Pass and Arlington Peak

I left Slocan at 0615 on a cool late June morning started the ~1300m climb up Springer Creek. The first six kilometers are relatively steep and then the grade relaxes a bit. Snow was lingering on the last 100m or so of Black Prince Pass, so a short bike carry was obligatory.

Looking south down Crusader Creek

Later in the summer, it’s possible to stay high through the pass and get a better view, but due to the snow, I stayed low and opted for snow free travel. It’s a loose and relatively rough descent down to Lemmon Creek and the Six Mile Lakes junction.

A freshly graded Six Mile Lakes Road

The ride past Six Mile Lakes winds it’s way through some old growth cedar groves along a sinuous road. It plunges steeply down to Kootenay Lake on the east side of the pass.

The BOB— the gateway to Nelson from the North Shore.

After three and a half hours of travel, I stopped into Oso Negro for a sandwich and a coffee and met up with my buddy Julien. The terrace and the entire cafe at Oso are truly a work of art—one can see how it’s a community hub for Nelson. From there, we climbed up to the Great Northern Rail Trail and followed it to Highway 6. We crossed it and got onto the Giveout Creek FSR.

Julien on the rail grade

The Giveout Creek FSR climbs into the Bonnington Range where there’s an incredible network of logging and old mining roads to explore. I followed the Giveout Road up to the Gold Creek Road to the old Silverking mine site below Toad Peak. The fun part about the climb is you can look back to the the Kokanee Range and see where you’ve been.

Toad Peak
Looking north towards the Kokanee Range

The roads wind their way around the north flank of Bonnington Range. Their quality ranges from high speed gravel to single track through alder tunnels. Just the type of adventure I sought!

One of several creek crossings along the way.
An awesome single track climb.

After rambling around in the Bonnington Range, a high speed, yet chunky descent pours you out in Blewett. A silky rip on pavement takes you further down to the Kootenay River and across the Taghum bridge.

Climbing up Sproul Creek

Sproul Creek is one of my favourite climbs in the area, as you start on pavement, transition to a trail along Sproul Creek and then onto a beautiful gravel road that yields phenomenal views of the Bonnington Range.

Sproul Creek Gravel
Looking south towards the Bonnington Range

Once you crest the pass, the road undulates its way down to Pedro Creek and yields excellent views of the Valhallas

The Valhallas

The descent down Pedro Creek is steep, chunky and loose at times—a real brake screamer. It dumps you out just south of the unincorporated community of Winlaw. The across the road is the Slocan Rail Trail, which can be followed north to Slocan.

Slocan Rail Trail

The unsettled weather throughout the day persisted as I hit the Slocan Valley. A block head wind out of the north was the icing on the cake. I needed to get home in time for dinner, so I chose the smooth pavement of highway 6 to make some time. This route is definitely one to consider if you’re interested in a real Kootenay adventure biking experience. We offer supported rides, off grid cabins and a cottage in Slocan Village for gravel and mountain enthusiasts to use as their Kootenay biking basecamp.