Visit Valhalla Provincial Park
Carl Miller, Senior Videographer, Canada
Established in March 3, 1983, Valhalla Provincial Park consists of most of the Valhalla Range of the Selkirk Mountains. It is 49,893 hectares in size with 30 kilometres (19 mi) of shoreline along Slocan Lake. The park was created to protect the diverse topography, majestic peaks and unique vegetation of the Selkirk Mountains. Pictographs in the park are evidence of early native presence in the region. It was not until the 1850’s that prospectors and surveyors came into the area. Slocan Lake became a highway of commerce for early towns in the Kootenays and remnants of the logging flumes and other transportation routes can still be seen in the park.
The park is unique in its varying topography. Both Evans Lake and Beatrice Lake are uncommonly large for high elevation lakes in BC. Surrounding the lakes are numerous mountains with castellated peaks and dense forests of western red cedar and western hemlock. The higher elevations contain an expanse of sub-alpine and alpine vegetation.
A variety of wildlife inhabit the park including the grizzly and black bear, mountain goat, mule and whitetail deer, cougar, Golden Eagle and Alpine Ptarmigan.
There are extensive hiking areas and back-country backpacking opportunities in this park, but please note that during the winter season, the trails are under snow.
There are paddling, canoeing and kayaking opportunities as well as fishing with the appropriate license.
Wilderness, backcountry or walk-in camping is allowed; however, no services are provided at the marine sites. The campsites are open year-round when accessible and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are facilities at Gwillim, Wicca, Drinnon, Emerald and Cahill Lakes. Campfire pits are provided at established Slocan Lakeshore sites. Drinnon, Wicca and Gwillim lakes campgrounds have cooking areas but campfires are not allowed there.
Photo by Erin Miller
Gwillim Lakes: Winds whispering through the pine forests, waves lapping at the shoreline, Gwillim Lake Provincial Park provides a peaceful outdoor experience. Visitors can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, fishing and a viewpoint that provides a panoramic vista of the superb Rocky Mountain scenery.
Gimli Ridge: Mt. Gimli is a stunning pillar of rock reaching high in the Valhalla mountain range. This hike is tough, but rewarding. The trail leads up to the base of Mt. Gimli and wraps around to a final ledge. Here, hikers can look down into the Mulvey Basin lakes or take in the panoramas of jagged peaks and vistas.
Slocan Lake: Slocan Lake is located in the Slocan Valley of the Southeastern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. It is drained by the Slocan River, which flows south from the lake’s foot at Slocan City through the Slocan Valley to South Slocan, British Columbia, where that river meets the Kootenay River a few miles above its confluence with the Columbia.
In addition to Slocan City other towns on the lake include the twin communities of New Denver and Silverton. To the west of the lake is the Valhalla Range (or “the Valhallas”), most of which is enshrined in Valhalla Provincial Park.
“The majestic peaks and unique vegetation of Vallhalla are typical of the Selkirk Mountains. The park is unique in its varying topography.”
trails & camping
Gwillim & Drinnon Lakes: This popular trail winds steeply up, through forest and across scree as it makes it’s way first to Drinnon Lake, then up and over Dinnon Pass (elevation gain 435 meters.) It is roughly 3 kilometers ( to Drinnon Lake where there are four tent sites. From Drinnon Lake, it is 0.5 kilometers to the top of Drinnon Pass. On the far side of the Pass, Wicca Lake has six tent sites, bear lockers, and pit toilets. It is another 2.2 kilometers and 225 meters (738 ft) of elevation gain to Gwillim Lakes. At Gwillim Lakes, there are 13 tent sites, bear lockers, cooking area, and two pit toilets.
Gimli Ridge Trail: This 9.8 kilometer round-trip (6 mile) out and back makes an excellent day hike. While the trail is steep, gaining 765 m (2,500 ft) of elevation, the views of the surrounding peaks and the Mulvey Basin are awe-inspiring and worth every step! The Gimli Ridge Trail provides access to multiple climbing routes. There is a base camp located on South Gimli Ridge, just outside Mulvey Basin.
Evan’s Beach: This moderate 8.5 kilometers (5.25 miles) trail undulates up and down as it loosely follows the western shoreline of the stunning Slocan Lake to the roaring Evan’s Creek. A beautiful beach campsite with shelter, pit toilets, and a bear cache is located on the south side of Evan’s Creek.
Beatrice Lake: This 18 kilometer trail leaves from the Evan’s Beach Campsite on a metal bridge over Evan’s Creek and climbs steeply uphill (935 meters elevation gain) to Emerald Lake (4 kms), Cahill Lake (12 kms), and finally Beatrice Lake (18 kms). There are four tent pads at Emerald Lake and six tent pads at Cahill Lake. Camping is not permitted at Beatrice Lake.
Wee Sandy Trail: This arduous, undeveloped trail is best tackled by experienced hikers only. The trailhead at Wee Sandy Creek is accessible by boat only. The trail is 14.4 kilometers (8.9 miles) one-way and gains 1,370 meters (4,495 ft) of elevation as it works it’s way up Wee Sandy Creek to the gorgeous sub-alpine Wee Sandy Lake. The first 2 km of this trail follows a historic trail with views of goat bluffs. Past this, the trail is rugged and often hard to find. Bridges are out above the first crossing at kilometer four. The trail passes two historical trappers’ cabins as well as the Iron Creek Cabin, a shelter with a wood stove.
Sharp Creek/ New Denver Glacier: This 8 kilometer (5 mile) one-way trail is accessible by boat only and begins on the west shore of Slocan Lake at Sharp Creek. The trail is steep, gaining 1,380 meters (4,528 ft) of elevation, as it follows Sharp Creek up into the Valhallas. The trail passes the ruins of an old cabin and provides commanding views of the surrounding peaks and Slocan Lake far below, before ending near the New Denver Glacier. There is a small campsite 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) beyond the end of the trail.
Slocan Lake Beach Camping: There are seven boat-in campgrounds located within the park along the shores of Slocan Lake including: Wee Sandy Creek, Sandpoint Beach, Nemo Creek Beach, Cory’s Ranch, Indian Creek Beach, Ben Brown’s, and South Evans Beach.
**Distances & elevations may vary from those given. Always check for updated trail information and weather conditions before going. Backcountry camping fees may apply. Pack it in, pack it out!**
Photograph by Erin Miller
Climbing/Mountaineering: The sheer peaks and monoliths of the Mulvey Lakes Cirque, including Mount Dag, Wolf’s Ears, Gimli, Asgard, and Gladsheim, provide ample climbing opportunities.
Fishing: Fishing, with a license, is available in Slocan Lake.
Hunting: Hunting is permitted in the Park, with license, during hunting season.
Swimming: Slocan Lake and numerous alpine lakes are swimmable at your own risk. No lifeguards are on duty.
Boating: Boating, canoeing, kayaking, and SUP opportunities abound on Slocan Lake. Boat launches are located in New Denver, Slocan, and Silverton.
Wildlife Viewing: Grizzly and black bear, mountain goat, mule and whitetail deer, cougar, Golden Eagle, and Alpine Ptarmigan are just a few of the animals you may encounter within the Park. Mountain Goats around Gimli Peak have been habituated; BCParks requests people use the pit toilets and not urinate on the ground to ensure the health and survival of the goats and human safety.
By Boat: As Valhalla Provincial Park occupies 30 kilometers of the western shoreline of Slocan Lake, the park is easily accessed via boat, canoe, kayak, and SUP. Seven boat-in campgrounds are accessible by boat only, as are numerous trails. Boat launches are located at New Denver and Slocan.
Gwilim Lakes Trailhead: The majority of the roads are decent, but 4WD and a high clearance vehicle are recommended.
Starting from Playmor Junction, drive approx. 15 km north on Highway 6, then turn onto Passmore Upper Road. Continue on Passmore Upper Road as it turns into Little Slocan Road for 25 km. You’ll pass the turnoff for the Little Slocan Lakes campground. Then watch for signs for “Valhalla Provincial Park” and turn left onto Hodor Creek Road then continue another 21 km.
The last 2.4 km of Hoder Creek road are are very rough and not recommended for a low clearance 2WD vehicle.
Note: there are plans in summer 2020 to move the trailhead back so that the rough road is blocked off and the remaining 2.4 km will need to be hiked.
Gimli: From the town of Slocan, drive approx. 13 km down Little Slocan Forest service road following the signs for Valhalla Provincial Park. Turn right onto Bannock Burn FSR and continue another 13 km. The drive can be challenging and 4WD and high clearance vehicles are recommended.