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Larch Hills Traverse

Salmon Arm & Area
Distance: 38 km (one way)
Difficulty: More Difficult
Duration: 6 - 10 hours (one way) by cycle, or 11-14 hours backcountry ski tour, shorter loop options possible
Trail Access / Features
Walk / Hike Mountain Biking Horse Trail Snow Shoeing Cross Country Ski Wildlife

Trail Notes / Current Conditions:

Dec 10/17: NEW! Top-o-the-Sic section added - another 2 km of single-track trail gets you off the forestry road and completes the Larch Hills Traverse trail section above Sicamous. Combined with the Raspberry section built in 2014 & 2015, and the Hyde-Around section built in 2016, the new Top-O-the-Sic section creates over 10 km of dedicated non-motorized single track trail bliss accessible from Sicamous by mountain bike, hiking, snowshoe, and backcountry skiing. Create 8 - 20 + kilometer loop options just from Sicamous. And of course, add it to your already epic Salmon Arm-to-Sicamous traverse on foot, mountain bike, or backcountry ski/snowshoe for an epic 40 km! Plus it links into the Hyde Mountain Lookout route adding a lovely new non-road trail section to that day-long hike option from Sicamous. Very awesome! (STA, RSTBC, BCRDP Grant) Check out the new Geo-Referenced PDF Map
 
Also check out: NEW! West Greenway Loop - for those linking through Larch Hills to Rubberhead, this new destination loop makes a great new option to consider. Watch for future connections off this to come.
 
June 20/2017: Timber Harvest Work along Larch Hills Traverse on Metford Road above South Canoe - Canoe Forest Products (CFP) has begun road upgrades/reactivation activities along the upper section of Metford Rd. (106.000 Rd) beginning around 4.5km from the South Canoe trailhead, and heading north out of the woodlot. Recreational users can expect to find to tracked equipment (excavators), dump trucks, crew trucks and fallers working along this section of road Mon – Fri 3am – 6pm for the next few weeks. Where work is occurring road crews will have signs up indicating controlled access through the work site area. Users wishing to access the Larch Hills Traverse through this area may consider using Ravens Run as an alternate route around the road work. (See the map link for details.)
 
WATCH for LOGGING TRUCKS - May - July 2017: Canoe Forest Products will be harvesting cutblocks located on the 110 road to the west (approx. 300m) of the start of the “Game trail” section of the Larch Hills traverse.   Access to the Larchhills traverse on the 110 FSRoad is unlikely. Road repair is required. If you use the 110 road expect industrial logging traffic on the main 110.000 road Monday – Friday.
 
General Trail Notes and Conditions: Maps and and a GPS are recommended.  Or go with someone familiar with the trail.  Some intersections are confusing and some signs may be missing or down.

Trail Description:

The Larch Hills Traverse was the first section of the wider Shuswap Trail System to be completed. But is still evolving as new single track trail sections get added, and new loop options are created.

It’s an epic 38 kilometre highland cross-country romp through the forests, fens, and dramatic lake vistas of the Larch Hills, linking the communities of Salmon Arm and Sicamous, as well as linking into the South Canoe Trail System, the Larch Hills Nordic Trail System, the Shuswap Outdoors! backcountry trails, the Rubberhead Mountain Bike Trail system, and the Hyde Mountain Lookout and Sicamous Greenway trail systems. Simply put - its the backbone connecting a whole lot of good trail karma in the Shuswap!

A series of distinct sections make up the full traverse. Each offers its own unique character to the journey. The trail connects forestry road and singletrack trails through a variety of ecosystems and terrain. Many amazing viewpoints overlooking Shuswap and Mara Lakes are your rewards. Most often traveled from Salmon Arm to Sicamous for mountain bikers, it actually also rides really well in the other direction from Sicamous to Salmon Arm. The Sicamous Switchbacks are a surprisingly rideable uphill grade only averaging 10%, but don't be fooled on the downhill. This section is still one of the hidden wonders of the mountain biking world, with loads of undulations and meanders to make it the cherry on the cake for those riding from west to east.

Explore three new trail sections added each season between 2014 and 2017, including the 3 km Raspberry Hill section with spectacular new views high over Shuswap lake, the 2+ km Hyde Around section winding through varying forest types, and the most recent 2 km Top-o-the-Sic section that now connects the top of the Switchbacks all the way over to the Raspberry Hill section, eliminating the need to use the 112 Forestry Road. Effectively, the entire east side of the Traverse is now doable all on sweet single track trails. These sections can also be combined with the old 112 Forestry Road to create unique loops of their own for an out-and-back trail experience starting and ending in Sicamous.

And a fourth section of the traverse was also added in 2017 on the west side, though not fully connected yet. Check out the West Greenway Loop trail for a very cool destination hike or snowshoe through older growth cedar/hemlock forest, as well as a cool option when connecting through to the Rubberhead trails. Watch for new sections to come, including future additions to this loop trail linking back to Salmon Arm.

The route is a four season challenge, with variations in the winter where more obvious lines open up under snow cover. It’s doable in a very long day by mountain bikers or nordic ski tourers, but also lends itself well to an overnight, especially for through hikers.

As mentioned, a series of shorter circuit trips can be linked along the extended route. Together they can be collected over time to build a complete traverse. Parties can also add overnight visits to the Larch Hills Nordic Society’s Main Chalet or Cec’s Cabin. New single track trail sections and overnight shelters are planned for the future, to extend winter and summer touring options for the area. Watch for updates. 

New! Geo-Referenced PDF Map

Annotated Guide: PDF (Goes with theses GPS Map numbers which match waypoints along the track. Note: this is an older version of the map, so does not include the newer sections shown in the Geo-Referenced PDF map)

Access:

Travelling West to East :

The western trailhead starts in the community of Salmon Arm in the parking area at the eastern end of 10th Ave. SE just off the Highway 97 B connector to Enderby. This is also the site of the South Canoe trail system frequented by cyclists, hikers and equestrians in the area. 

From the South Canoe parking lot in Salmon Arm the traverse climbs Metford Forest Service Road to link into the Larch Hills Nordic ski trail system via Mushroom Fantasy, Ermine Frolic and Reino’s Run to the South Hub. From there follow Larch Hills Road, Larch Lake Loop, Moonwalk, and Clearcut Connector ski trails. Then watch for the Larch Hills Traverse sign posts. 

From the northern point of the nordic trails, new sections of flowing single track trail connect the 110, 109 and 112 Forestry Roads, with views of the surrounding highlands and lake. The final descent to Sicamous follows a beautiful trail through mixed cedar and hemlock forest on a remarkable weave of switch backs. For mountain bikers the descent comes as a fine reward. Walk or ride down the highway and over the Sicamous Narrows bridge (use sidewalk on the north side) to the Sicamous wharf parking area – the official eastern trailhead.

West Trailhead (Salmon Arm ):

From the Trans Canada Hwy and Haney Heritage Park in east Salmon Arm, travel 2 km south on Hwy 97B to the cross walk, and turn east onto 10th Ave SE. Follow to the end where the road turns to gravel then park on the left. The traverse starts here following Metford Forestry Road at the locked gate.

East Trailhead (Sicamous ):

Park at the Visitors Information Centre or Wharf in Sicamous. Walk or cycle west along north side of Sicamous Narrows Bridge to the “Welcome to Sicamous” sign 1 kilometre from the Sicamous Narrows bridge. Turn south (left) off the highway at the sign. Follow the 2 wheel drive accessible Forest Service Road 400 meters, to the obvious trailhead sign on the right.

Alternate South Trailhead (Larch Hills ):

Approx. 8.7 km south of Salmon Arm on Hwy. 97B, turn east on Grandview Bench Rd. at the Larch Hills Nordic sign. After approx. 5.4 km turn left/north onto Edgar Rd. After another 3 km, keep left at the junction, and travel another 3 km to the Larch Hills ski area. Park at the main Larch Hills Nordic Chalet Parking Lot. NOTE: Equestrian access is limited at other trailheads. This is the best access for equestrian riders with trailers to park.

Access Map: From Sicamous, From Salmon Arm, From Larch Hills

Access PDFs: 109 FSR, 110 FSR, 112 FSR, Metford Rd.

Warnings:

CAUTION: Wilderness Trail. This is not for the faint of heart. Careful preparation, adequate food, water, gear, knowledge of backcountry travel and navigation are essential. Plan accordingly.

 

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