Hikes in Kootenay National Park

Region in British Columbia, Canada

Kootenay National Park is one of the most distinctive and beautiful parks in the Canadian Rockies, shaped like a lightning bolt and surrounded by epic, towering mountains. Often overlooked by visitors, Kootenay offers a fabulous diversity of scenery, with lush valleys, arid peaks, and wide, grassy plains, and is packed with incredible hiking trails. Welcome to the wild side of southeast BC.

If you’re in search of beautiful landscapes, fascinating wildlife and plenty of outdoor adventures, Kootenay National Park is the place for you. The scenery here is as wild, rugged and spectacular as anywhere in the Canadian Rockies, with looming, snow-clad peaks, lush wildflower meadows, hot springs, deep valleys and stunning views whichever way you turn. Hiking in Kootenay National Park is a real treat, with unbeatable trails and plenty of scenic variety.

The most famous hiking trail in Kootenay National Park is, without doubt, the Rockwall Trail, an epic 55.0 km backpacking trail that passes through some seriously stunning scenery. Follow the river past gushing waterfalls, meander through dense forests, and gaze in wonder at the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. However, you don’t need to commit to a multi-day backpacking adventure to enjoy the Rockwall Trail – many sections can be completed as day hikes, tailored to your fitness level. On this trail, and many others in the park, you can expect to see an abundance of wildlife, as well as impressive vistas over turquoise lakes and immense glaciers.

Next time you’re planning an adventure in the Canadian Rockies, why not explore this beautiful part of the region? To whet your appetite, here’s our list of the top hikes to enjoy in Kootenay National Park.

Top 8 Hikes In Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park is one of the most overlooked parts of the Canadian Rockies, but this beautiful region has plenty to offer hikers, whatever their ability or fitness level. Like other Rocky Mountain parks, Kootenay National Park offers towering peaks, craggy ridges, and plenty of strenuous trails to challenge even the most experienced adventurers. However, it’s also a popular destination for families and beginner hikers, as there is an abundance of lower-elevation, easy trails that kids will love. Gaze on majestic glaciers, stroll through forests of pine and aspen, or dip your toes in a cool alpine lake – there’s something here for everyone.

  • Floe Lake Hike: The route to Floe Lake takes you through one of the most iconic parts of the Rockwall Trail, with incredible views. The trail ascends steeply, passing by sections of burnt forest with a carpet of wildflowers and a lovely gushing waterfall. Floe Lake itself is simply stunning, named after the icebergs that once flowed into the lake in summer, products of glacial calving.
  • Cobb Lake Hike: This wonderful route is an excellent option for families, especially on hot days, as the cool forest provides ample shade from the summer sun. The route through the woods is magical, with scented foliage and tall trees, and the final destination, Cobb Lake, is the perfect place for a refreshing paddle. Make sure to check in advance as the trail is often closed due to bear activity.
  • Paint Pots Hike: Looking for a fun, family-friendly hike in Kootenay National Park? We love the walk to the Paint Pots, a series of small, multicolored pools set in vibrant clay soil. This is a region filled with history and local significance, from the miners who settled here in the early 20th century, to the First Nations inhabitants who continue to hold the site as sacred. Kids will love this easy hike, and there’s plenty to see and learn along the way.
  • Ball Pass Hike: Ball Pass is one of the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies, and is frequently overlooked by visitors to Kootenay National Park. Beginning at Hawk Creek, this is a challenging day hike, passing through rugged forests up the Ball Pass, where a stunning wildflower meadow awaits you. The trail itself is exceptionally pretty, passing by waterfalls, meadows and beautiful mountain scenery. The real treat awaits you at the summit – a magnificent panorama that takes in the best of the Canadian Rockies, including Mount Ball, the Ball Glacier, Isabelle Peak and Shadow Lake.
  • Marble Canyon Hike: This accessible trail is one of the best easy hikes in Kootenay National Park, passing through the deep, dramatic Marble Canyon. This is an excellent way to see the power of nature in action, as the canyon has been carved over millennia by the rushing waters of Tokkum Creek. The views are wonderful, and the path is easy and accessible for children, with fencing along most of the route (although it’s still important to take care with younger kids).
  • Kindersley-Sinclair Loop Hike: The Kindersley-Sinclair Loop is a classic hike in Kootenay National Park, and allows you to appreciate the magnificent diversity of this corner of the Canadian Rockies. You’ll pass through expansive meadows filled with wildflowers, pretty forests, and spectacular peaks, high above the treeline, with jaw-dropping views over the valley. Come in late July and early August to see the delicate, colorful flowers at their best.
  • Olive Lake Hike: Olive Lake is an excellent option if you’re looking for an easy hike in Kootenay National Park with wheelchair-accessible trails. The emerald-colored Olive Lake is a stunning sight, surrounded by rocky peaks and dense forest, but the trail is easy to follow and perfect for strollers. Bring a picnic and find a spot next to the water where you can appreciate the beauty and majesty of the Canadian Rockies.
  • Stanley Glacier Hike: The trail that leads to Stanley Glacier is one of the best hikes in Kootenay National Park. The ascent is gentle and relatively easy, but you’ll enjoy some beautiful scenery along the way, with stunning wildflowers, cascading waterfalls, and views over the wonderful Stanley Glacier. It’s possible to extend or shorten the hike according to your energy levels, making this an excellent option for families with older children. Make sure to stop off at the Storm Mountain Lodge, for a delicious meal to reward you for your efforts.

When Is The Best Time To Hike In Kootenay National Park?

Like other parts of the Canadian Rockies, the best time to hike in Kootenay National Park is in the summer, between early June and the end of September. The snow is usually clear from the higher-elevation trails by the end of May or early June, and the weather is warm, clear and perfect for hiking. Spring brings wonderful displays of wildflowers, and plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting as the park’s inhabitants wake up after a long period of winter slumber. Summer can be very busy, although the trails in Kootenay National Park aren’t as crowded as other parts of the Canadian Rockies. If you’re looking for spectacular photo opportunities, however, we’d recommend visiting in September, when the forests are ablaze in a riot of fall colors.

Other Outdoor Activities In Kootenay National Park

The Canadian Rockies are a haven for hikers, but there are plenty of other outdoor activities in Kootenay National Park that will keep all adventurers happy! This is a fantastic spot for a backpacking trip, especially for families, with easy, accessible and fun trails that will introduce younger kids to the delights of camping out in the wild. Kids will also love the guided tours of the Burgess Shale, packed with incredible fossils that showcase the earliest history of our planet. For those with plenty of energy, why not try mountain biking, rock climbing, or wildlife watching in the heart of the park? As a treat after a long day out in the mountains, you can also relax in the Radium Hot Springs, the perfect place to soak your aching muscles! In winter, the park remains open for all kinds of winter sports, including downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice climbing.

How To Plan A Trip To Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park is one of the most overlooked destinations in the Canadian Rockies, but it offers everything you might have come to expect of this incredible mountain range. If this park is on your hiking bucket list, make sure you check out our guide to how to plan a trip to Kootenay National Park. We’ve gathered together all the information you’ll need to make your vacation a success, including insider tips on all the best hikes and places to visit. Beat the crowds and start planning a trip to this beautiful part of the Rockies!

Frequently-Asked-Questions About Kootenay National Park

Do you need a Park Pass for Kootenay National Park?

Passes are required for all of Canada’s national parks, including Kootenay. It’s possible to purchase either a daily or an annual pass at any of the park entry gates, or by visiting the Parks Canada website.

What does Kootenay mean?

Kootenay National Park takes its name from the Kootenay River, which in turn is named after the First Nations Kutenai people.

How far is Kootenay National Park from Banff?

Kootenay National Park is approximately 82.0 mi from Banff.

Are there bears in Kootenay National Park?

Grizzly bears and black bears can be found in Kootenay National Park. Although encounters with humans are relatively rare, make sure to stay alert on the trail and come equipped with bear spray and if camping, make sure to store food securely in bear-proof containers. For more information, check out the bear safety guide.

Guide-book quality info for over 8,000 trails

View Hikes in Kootenay National Park on Map

View Map

Best Hikes in Kootenay National Park

Open details for Floe Lake

Floe Lake

Very Hard
22.9 km
794 m
6-9h

The Floe Lake hike in Kootenay National Park takes you to one of the highlights of the Rockwall Trail – Floe Lake. The initial part of the hike to Floe Lake takes you through a burnt forest with stunning views and lots of wildflowers. As the trail steepens, you switchback your way up to the stunning vistas and gorgeous Floe Lake - which is perfect for a well-deserved cool down after a big hike!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Ball Pass

Ball Pass

Very Hard
20.0 km
854 m
6-8.5h

Perhaps the most underrated hike in the entire Canadian Rockies is the Ball Pass hike in Kootenay National Park. This hike goes up along Hawk Creek and is perfect for a challenging day hike. Head up to Ball Pass through a rugged and exposed regrowth forest with a lovely mountain meadow as a destination. Pack a lunch and enjoy the views and then head back or make it an overnight and continue to Shadow Lodge or Ball Pass Campground.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Kindersley-Sinclair Loop

Kindersley-Sinclair Loop

Very Hard
16.7 km
1,167 m
6-8.5h

The Kindersley-Sinclair Loop hike is a classic hike in Kootenay National Park. This is a beautiful hike that takes you through several different landscapes in Kootenay National Park. From meadows of beautiful wildflowers to sprawling vistas of the surrounding peaks, as well as dense forest this hike has it all. The Kindersley Sinclair Loop is a perfect day hike in Kootenay National Park.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Stanley Glacier

Stanley Glacier

Moderate
11.4 km
568 m
3.5-5h

The Stanley Glacier hike in beautiful Kootenay National Park is a true delight. The trail goes from burnt forest with mesmerizing wildflowers, to alpine meadow, to the amazing Stanley Glacier. This gentle climb has it all – complete with beautiful cascading waterfalls too!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Numa Creek Trail

Numa Creek Trail

Moderate
12.9 km
656 m
4-5.5h

Hiking the Numa Creek Trail is a great adventure in Kootenay National Park that will take you past a number of scenic highlights on the way to the Numa Creek Campground. While out on the trail, you will pass by the rushing waters of the Numa Falls and hike alongside Numa Creek, as you work your way in between dramatic mountain peaks for stunning views of the rugged landscape. This is a great day-hike with easy access from Highway BC-93.

User Ratings
No Reviews
Open details for Paint Pots

Paint Pots

Very Easy
2.4 km
38 m
0.5h

The Paint Pots hike in Kootenay National Park is a great hike to do with your kids. Located a 40-minute drive from the town of Banff, this is a picturesque walk for those who want great views without all the effort. The yellow pools are an interesting site to see and were culturally significant to the aboriginals in the area.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Marble Canyon

Marble Canyon

Very Easy
1.9 km
31 m
0.5h

The Marble Canyon hike in Kootenay National Park is a beautiful hike that follows Marble Canyon, which has been cut by Tokkum Creek. This hike is easily accessible for anyone wishing to get out and enjoy the beauty and power of nature. Several bridges cross over the creek below and really showcase just how much the water has carved deep into the land to create Marble Canyon. This is a great walk in Kootenay NP.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Cobb Lake

Cobb Lake

Easy
6.3 km
238 m
2-2.5h

The Cobb Lake hike is a good family hike in Kootenay National Park. This is a great hike for a hot, sunny day, though be sure to check the status of this hike, as there are often Bear Closures.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Olive Lake

Olive Lake

Very Easy
0.7 km
17 m
0.5h

The hike to Olive Lake takes you to a beautiful emerald lake in Kootenay National Park. This hike is located only 13.0 km north of Radium Hot Springs. The trail is fully wheelchair and stroller accessible, making this hike a great place to spend time with the whole family. Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch at the picnic tables near the trail.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Helmet Falls Trail to Ochre Junction

Helmet Falls Trail to Ochre Junction

Moderate
12.2 km
458 m
3.5-5h

The Helmet Falls Trail to Ochre Junction is a 12.2 km hike that will lead you through the forests along Ochre Creek to reach the Ochre Junction Campground. While the trail doesn’t take you all the way to Helmet Falls, it covers the initial stretch of the journey, providing a great spot to camp overnight before making the rest of the journey. While out on the trail, you will experience a peaceful forest setting, river crossings, and views of the surrounding mountains.

User Ratings
No Reviews

Change happens, fees shouldn't

Other Activities in Kootenay National Park

Essential Tools for Any Adventure

Find a hotel in some of the most beautiful locations on earth.

Book your own car to have complete freedom on your next adventure.

Gear-up for your next adventure.

This page may include affiliate links. We may get a small commission for the purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you.
We only recommend tools we personally think are great.

Related regions

Change happens, fees shouldn't

Recent Stories

Open details for The Ultimate Guide to Kootenay National Park

The Ultimate Guide to Kootenay National Park

By Lukas Saville
May 31st, 2019
Detailed Route Guides
Real GPS Coordinates
Reliable Trail Reports
Experienced-Based Travel Tips
GPS App
Extensive Travel Guides

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get a weekly dose of discounts and inspiration for adventure lovers

Tours

Routes

Blogs