An easy hiking, moderate biking (with a handful of super technical spots), lollipop loop trail around a pond ecosystem. Many different types of plant life, birds and some odd rock formations, including a surprising cave.
The trail only takes 1.5 hours if you stroll, much less by bike.
It begins at a viewpoint over the Columbia River and Castlegar and continues for a short spell along the highway, which is a bit annoying, but soon descends into the silence of mixed forest - pines, hardwoods, larches and a mix of your standard local conifers. The way is cool and green, broken once by a new, ghastly logging road.
Within 30 minutes you arrive at the pond, with an outhouse and a strange, open, a-frame shelter. Posts numbered 1 through 16 circle the pond counter-clockwise, which is the best way to walk it as the surroundings become more interesting as the numbers increase. If biking go clockwise - there are some tricky rock formations that are possible to ride down if you're good, but impossible to climb.
You'll soon discover the pond is quite a bit larger than it first appeared, and there are many differing viewpoints, a few bridges, undulating terrain and riparian wildlife. In places, the trail comes close to the edge of the high cliffs overlooking the valley - may be wise to leash any straying dogs. Right around post 15, look to the trees for a smattering of nests, and shortly thereafter you can't miss the bizzarely out-of-place rock wall and cave system.
For a short ramble off the highway, this place had a lot of odd things to see. The trail is managed by the Kootenay Conservation Society - so that's probably your best bet for getting info on the numbered posts.
From Castlegar head east on Hwy 3 toward Salmo. In about 5km, at the top of the first long hill, there is a rest stop on the right hand side. Between the 2 stone outhouses, find the trail to the viewpoint. Keep following a track beyond there and soon come to a gate in the fence with info on the Mel Deanna trail. Through the gate the trail begins.
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