Hikes in East Kootenays
Nestled in the southeast corner of British Columbia, the East Kootenays are a vast region that is characterized by rugged mountain ranges, lush river valleys, and beautifully scenic meadows. Dominated by the Rocky Mountain Trench, and flanked by both the Purcell and Rocky mountain ranges, this is a dramatic landscape that offers a wealth of opportunities for exploring the wilderness.
Located within relatively close proximity to a number of popular national, provincial, and regional parks; it is little wonder why the East Kootenays are such a great gateway for exploring this rugged corner of BC. Towns like Fernie, Cranbrook, Invermere, and Kimberley all provide easy access to great accommodations and countless outdoor activities, ensuring that your next trip to the East Kootenays will be an action-packed and memorable experience.
The 10 Greatest Hikes in the East Kootenays
While the terrain of the East Kootenays may seem a bit rough and daunting, the region as a whole offers a great selection of hiking trails that are suitable for all ages and skill levels. Whether you are looking to hike along the banks of the powerful Kootenay River, trek through the rugged mountains of Top of the World Provincial Park, or take a leisurely stroll to one of the relaxing hot springs in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, you will be sure to find countless trails that will perfectly suit your next adventure. If you aren’t sure where to get started, check out this list of some great East Kootenay hikes that we’ve put together below:
- Lussier Hot Springs: This quick and easy trail isn’t really much of a hike, but it will take you to a relaxing set of hot springs along the Lussier River. Arrive early to beat the crowds and walk the short distance along the path to access the restorative waters of the thermal pools set in a picturesque woodland setting.
- Ram Creek Hot Springs: This adventure to a different hot spring is longer and will require a bit more of an effort in the hiking department; however, the stunning views of nearby mountains makes for the perfect setting when you slip into the thermal pools to relax after a long hike.
- Bee Line Trail: This quick hike in Cranbrook will take you through a charming forest to an awesome vantage point overlooking the town and nearby Rocky Mountains. The easy to navigate nature of the trail and favourable terrain make this great for a family adventure.
- Fish Lake: The hike to Fish Lake is an amazing adventure that will allow you to take in the natural beauty of Top of the World Provincial Park. After hiking through the forest along the Lussier River, you will end up at the quiet shores of Fish Lake that are surrounded by rugged mountain peaks.
- Dewar Creek Hot Springs: This lengthy out-and-back journey will take you through the rugged backcountry of the Purcell Mountains to reach a beautiful setting with hot springs. The trail might be a bit on the overgrown side, but the amazing views and relaxing thermal pools at the end are more than enough of a reward.
- Lake of the Hanging Glacier: Hiking this trail is a technical adventure that will lead you uphill through challenging terrain to reach a stunning glacial lake with gorgeous views of nearby mountain peaks. You will need a 4x4 vehicle to access this route.
- Moe's Canyon Loop: This quick hiking route near Kimberley is a bit overgrown, but the charming forest setting and rocky terrain of the surrounding area make for a fun day out on a network of trails that can be enjoyed by all.
- Mount Stevens and Teepee Mountain: Although this relentless trail east of Wasa will see you work your way uphill through some gruelling terrain, the views of the surrounding alpine landscape will be an ample reward for your efforts. This is another route that is set in the backcountry, making a 4x4 vehicle necessary to reach the trailhead.
- Chief Isadore Trail: Running parallel to the winding banks of the Kootenay River, the Chief Isadore trail is a fantastic hiking route that will provide breathtaking views of the mountains across the valley. This is a one-way adventure, so be sure to plan a pick up ahead of time.
- Chisel Peak: This 13.8 km out-and-back is a rugged climb through some rocky terrain that will take you up to the summit of the peak. Here, you will experience amazingly scenic views overlooking nearby mountains and the Columbia Valley.
When is the Best Time to Hike in East Kootenays?
As with most areas in and around the Canadian Rockies, the best time to hike in the East Kootenays is during the summer months. During the early June to end of September window, most of the higher-elevation trails in the region will be free of snow and the hot conditions will be sure to keep trail conditions safe and dry. This also means that the hiking routes will be busiest at this time, so if you don’t mind taking a chance on the weather, you could always aim for the late spring/early fall. At these times, temperatures will be a bit cooler and weather will be more of a factor; however, the opportunities for viewing wildlife and other natural phenomena like waterfalls will bring a whole other level of excitement to your hiking adventure.
Other Outdoor Activities in the East Kootenays
The East Kootenay region covers a massive area in southeastern BC and as a result there will be no shortage of amazing outdoor activities that you can take part in. Summer here will provide access to countless hiking and mountain bike trails, canoe/kayak excursions, mountaineering treks, and fishing expeditions. If you are more interested in winter sports, you will no doubt be happy with the amazing selection of ski slopes, snowshoeing trails, and ice climbing opportunities on offer here. No matter the season, you will always be able to relax after a long day of exploring in the East Kootenays with a soak in one of the region’s many hot springs.
Frequently Asked Questions About the East Kootenays
What is considered the East Kootenays?
The East Kootenay region in southeastern British Columbia is generally accepted to include the valley of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers, stretching from Golden to the Canada-United States border. On its east and west sides, the region is flanked by the Rocky and Purcell mountain ranges respectively.
What are the Kootenay Mountains?
The Kootenay Rockies aren’t a single range of mountains in themselves, rather, they are comprised of the Rocky, Purcell, Selkirk, and Monashee mountain ranges.
Find other amazing hiking regions in British Columbia
Best Hikes in East Kootenays
Lussier Hot Springs
The trail to the Lussier Hot Springs is a short 0.5 km hiking route within Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park that will take you down a gently-graded path to reach a series of relaxing thermal pools. Along the trail, you will be surrounded by a beautiful forest landscape that is only amplified when you reach the pools that are nestled along the edge of the Lussier River. This route isn’t so much a hiking trail, as it is a means to access the restorative properties of the hot springs.
Ram Creek Hot Springs
Hiking to the Ram Creek Hot Springs will take you on an 11.1 km out-and-back trail that runs along a forest service road to the Ram Creek Ecological Reserve. Here, hikers will find a series of relaxing thermal pools in which they can submerge themselves and take in the beautiful mountain scenery. The road into the trailhead is a bit treacherous but you will forget all about the rough journey and reconnect with the outdoors once you reach the hot springs.
Bee Line Trail
The Bee Line Trail is a 4.5 km lollipop hiking route in Cranbrook, BC, that will lead you uphill through a scenic stretch of forest to an amazingly scenic lookout. From the viewpoint atop the hill, you will have panoramic views of the landscape surrounding Cranbrook, including the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Purcell Mountains to the West. This is a very well-marked trail that is perfect for a fun family outing.
The trek to Fish Lake follows a 12.6 km out-and-back hiking route that will allow you to experience the impressive scenery within Top of the World Provincial Park. The route travels south through a dense stretch of forest that runs closely alongside the Lussier River before arriving at the calm waters of Fish Lake. Once there, you will be surrounded by an amazingly serene atmosphere with views of Mount Doolan and the peaks of Mount Dingley.
Dewar Creek Hot Springs
The trek to the Dewar Creek Hot Springs follows a 19.2 km out-and-back hiking route that heads into the backcountry alongside Dewar Creek to eventually arrive at a series of relaxing thermal pools. The trail largely passes through sections of heavy forest and subalpine meadow with some scenic views of the surrounding Purcell Mountains. The route traverses some undulating terrain that is a bit overgrown but fairly easy to navigate, making this a great option for casual and experienced hikers that are looking for a longer hike with a nice reward at the end.
Lake of the Hanging Glacier
The trail leading to the Lake of the Hanging Glacier is a 15.9 km out-and-back hiking route that will take you on an amazing adventure through forests and over scenic river crossings to reach a picturesque glacial lake with surrounding mountains framing the backdrop. More technical than steep, this route is a challenging hike that will reward you with breathtaking scenery and unforgettable memories. It’s best to make the drive in with a 4x4 high clearance vehicle, as the road to the trailhead is fairly rough and rugged.
Moe’s Canyon Loop
Moe’s Canyon Loop is a 4.7 km lollipop hiking route just west of Kimberley that sets out from the Kimberley Nordic Club and traverses some forested and rocky terrain. You can expect to experience an amazing forest setting with wild berry bushes and some rock falls scattered across the area along the route. Although a tiny bit overgrown, this trail is still accessible for the majority of hikers.
Mount Stevens and Teepee Mountain
The trek to Mount Stevens and Teepee Mountain is a steep 13.5 km out-and-back hiking route east of Wasa, BC, that will take you through the scenic alpine terrain to traverse these two majestic summits. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time for this hike and bring lots of water, as the steep incline is relentless, offering little in the way of easy terrain to catch your breath. As the road into the trailhead is very rough, only make the journey with a 4x4 high clearance vehicle.
Chief Isadore Trail
The Chief Isadore Trail is a 10.3 km point-to-point hiking route that will take you from Ha Ha Creek Road to the town of Wardner along a scenic route that runs parallel to the Kootenay River. Hivers along the trail will experience some amazing views across the valley, including the imposing Bull Mountain and The Steeples to the northeast. This route guide is for a one-way trip only, so hikers will need to either hike the return 10.3 km to their vehicle or arrange a pickup in the town of Warden.
Chisel Peak is a 13.8 km out-and-back hiking route near Invermere, BC, that will take you up to the rocky summit of this prominent mountain. Along the route, you will experience a variety of terrain including service roads, beautiful forests, and exposed rock before arriving at the breathtaking viewpoint at the summit. Once there, you will have spectacular views that stretch across the Columbia Valley and the surrounding mountain ranges.
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