To those who appreciate the river, Fortis Inc.’s decision last week to suspend their feasibility study into a dam on the Similkameen’s upper reaches provided a reason to celebrate – for now at least, the river will remain the jewel it is.
The American portion of the river is distinctly different and worth getting to know as well.
An interesting way to get in touch with the river’s lower reaches is to take a bike ride up the Similkameen Trail. It’s about five or six kilometres of restored Great Northern railway line originating behind the Oroville, WA post office and continuing upstream almost to the Enloe Dam.
It’s a very scenic ride, and an easy one, well worth the trip if one is camping in the Oroville area and looking for something to do for a couple of hours. At one per cent, the grade is easy, except for a portion near the bridge crossing the Similkameen (the Girder Bridge) where the trail wanders away from the original right of way for a short distance.
On a recent September day, fishermen were strung out along the canyon, people were sunning and bathing on the sandy stretches, including a couple of prospectors on the trail who were in the process of hauling their gold dredge out of the river.
The trail was also being used by locals who were hiking and jogging along its length.
The Similkameen Trail follows the south side of the river, about 100 feet or so above it. The views are scenic and many park benches have been set up to allow users a chance to rest and enjoy the view. It’s a great way to see this part of the river, which isn’t always easy to view on the road that runs between Oroville and Nighthawk.
On this side of the line, the regional district is working with local residents to extend the village trail south to Cawston, while below the border, plans are also being developed to extend their section of the trail through to Nighthawk. Will the two ends ever meet? It’s easy to see why that might be the goal, once one has experienced what has been created so far.