From the large picture window in the great room of the New Denver Lodge a spectacular scene can be witnessed of the calm and majestic Slocan Lake and just over a mile in the distance the rugged shoreline and mountains making up the inspiring Valhalla Range. The name which is steeped in Nordic legend was given to the range by George Dawson, the famous Canadian geologist and surveyor. Having a lifelong fondness for Wagnerian opera the mountains likely reminded him in his ‘mind’s eye’ of Valhalla, the home of the gods where Odin receives the souls of the Viking heroes who have fallen. Continuing the theme he named the peaks found in the range names like Gladsheim Peak, Asgard Peak, Gimli Peak, Midgard Peak, Mount Bor, Mount Niord, Urd Peak, Hela Peak and Mount Dag among others.
Many of the peaks in this range are more like spires jutting abruptly from their base below and are the subject of some of the most intense mountain climbing throughout the region. Though the spires themselves require a large amount of technical capability they are not often incredibly high and in fact on one August day in 2017 two amazingly fit climbers scaled 13 difficult peaks all within the same day.
The Valhalla’s can be reached from a number of routes both North and South of New Denver but from New Denver itself the only way to get there is by boat (boat service can be provided across the lake to various trail heads). The wilds of Canada present themselves in full display in Valhalla and the ribbon of lake between seems to offer a relative buffer from the raw Viking namesake across the way.
Though it may be wild and woolly the Valhalla’s are ideal for folks who truly appreciate the great outdoors. There are a number of hiking trails that can be found throughout complete with campsites, kitchen areas and outhouses. One of the most rewarding treks is the 6 km Gwillim Trail featuring mountains, meadows, streams and lakes galore. Hiking in these areas are restricted to designated trails and you should always be on the lookout for wild animals. Mountain goats, mountain caribou, mule and whitetail deer, marmots golden eagles, cougars, black bears and grizzly bears all call this area home.