The Columbia & Western Railway (C&WR) isn’t as well known as the Kettle Valley Railway but is easily as enjoyable and contains as many interesting features. At the moment, the C&WR is also completely cyclable whereas large sections of the KVR have been destroyed.

The C&WR is just over 150km long and with several alluring tangents, needs at least 2-3 days to explore. Starting in Midway at the train museum, the trail heads east toward Greenwood. The first 30km of trail isn’t very noteworthy as it usually hugs the highway. It is therefore recommended to plan a side trip to investigate some of the local mining history.

Greenwood itself is a great spot for this. It is impossible to pass through and not notice the giant concrete tower and slag pile at Anaconda.

After exiting Greenwood, the KVR used to fly over the ‘flag of tunnels’. There is a bypass now but the tunnel is definitely worth the photo-op.

Tunnel on the outskirts of Greenwood where the C&WR crosses the highway

After Greenwood, the C&WR heads up into the hills, circling around the mountains of Phoenix. There is a lot more mining history to discover in this area but that’s for another day. The C&WR finally starts to get interesting after Eholt Station when it diverges from the highway and starts feeling a lot more remote. This section has a couple noteworthy tunnels and cliffs before descending into Grand Forks.

Fisherman Tunnel

The next section from Grand Forks to Christina Lake is best known for the beautiful Cascade Falls Trestle that crosses the Kettle Valley River.

Rail Trail above Christina Lake

From Christina Lake onwards, the serious incline begins. The C&WR runs under the Paulson Bridge, giving a fantastic view that is easily ignored by vehicle above.

Cycling under the Paulson Bridge

The rest of the journey to Castlegar is absolutely fantastic and the best part of the entire trail. There are numerous trestles and tunnels like the Bulldog Tunnel which is nearly a kilometer long!

Bulldog Tunnel Entrance

Trestle overlooking Arrow Lakes
Another small tunnel

Just before the end of the trail near Castlegar, it’s worth exploring Labarthe Tunnel. It’s located just below the trail as it was cut off when the Arrow Lakes reservoir was created. At some times of year, it can only be navigated by boat!