Hikes in West Kootenays

Region in British Columbia, Canada

The best hikes in the West Kootenays take you to some pretty epic scenery, and this pretty region of the B.C. interior is sure to grow in popularity in the coming years. The West Kootenays include places like Nelson, Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park and more great places to hike.

THE TOP WEST KOOTENAY HIKES

The top hikes in the West Kootenays offer great variety, from remote backcountry wilderness to family-friendly routes right from Nelson. The stunning country in the West Kootenays provides a backdrop of forest, flower filled meadows, and stunning peaks, not to mention a large amount of wildlife (particularly bears!)

  1. Macbeth Glacier/Icefield (13.9 km, 1,343 m, 7-9h): This is the best challenging hike in the West Kootenays. Hike through an enormous variety of terrains until you reach the epic Macbeth Glacier towering above you. Rarely visited by tourists, this is as beautiful a hike as you will find in the West Kootenays.
  2. Mount Loki (11.1 km, 1,166 m, 6.5-8h): Mount Loki is another exceptional hike in the West Kootenays. Mount Loki is best attempted in the height of summer, when it is snow-free. From the summit it feels like you are on top of the world, with the West Kootenays stretching out below you.
  3. Jumbo Pass (12.0 km, 942 m, 5-7h): The hike to Jumbo Pass is stunning. This is a pretty famous hike thanks to Patagonia’s Jumbo Valley documentary and the indigenous history of the Northern Purcell Range. Here is one of the last remaining wild mountain ranges in B.C. This hike takes you through a stunning valley full of glaciers, meadows and mountain peaks. It is an extremely beautiful place for a hike.
  4. Whitewater Canyon (12.0 km, 836 m, 5-6.5h): Another classic West Kootenay hike is situated along the inside of Whitewater Canyon. Here you walk through a deep Selkirk valley, up through the meadows and finally reaching alpine lakes. This is a beautiful hike to do during wildflower season in July, or in fall (mid September).
  5. Gwillim Lakes (11.3 km, 693 m, 5-6.5h): This is a beautiful West Kootenay alpine hike, and is popular thanks to the backcountry campsite located here. Passing by many impressive lakes cradled by mountain peaks the whole way up, this is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Valhallas.
  6. Gimli Ridge (7.3 km, 694 m, 4-5.5h): Gimli Peak and Ridge is one of the shorter hikes in the Valhallas and has beautiful views throughout. This hike has stunning views of Mulvey Basin, a chance to explore the old forest, enjoy the view of Gimli Peak and bump into a Mountain Goat (or two!).
  7. Kokanee Glacier (16.8 km, 614 m, 4.5-6h): Hiking to Kokanee Glacier is another classic hike in the West Kootenays. This hike is a beautiful way to explore the wilderness, not too far from the towns of Nelson or Kaslo. Enjoy a swim in the cool Kokanee Lake, the pretty views down valley and wide open meadows filled with marmots.
  8. Idaho Peak (3.4 km, 276 m, 2-3h): Idaho Peak is a popular West Kootenay hike to do with kids. Enjoy this relatively easy walk along the ridgeline to an old fire lookout. From the top you are rewarded with exceptional views of Slocan Lake and panoramic mountain ranges – you can see as far as Kokanee Glacier just outside of Nelson.
  9. Fry Creek Canyon (8.3 km, 414 m, 3-5h): Fry Creek Canyon is a great shoulder season hike in the West Kootenays. This trail goes through the forest, ending where Fry Creek pours into Kootenay Lake. The canyon itself is impressive and can be followed for as long as you like.
  10. Pulpit Rock and Flagpole (5.4 km, 648 m, 1-3h): Pulpit Rock and Flagpole is an easy hike when staying in Nelson. This is a popular hike for a workout or family trip.

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Best Hikes in West Kootenays

Open details for Macbeth Icefield

Macbeth Icefield

Very Hard
13.9 km
1,343 m
6-8.5h

The Macbeth Icefield hike in the West Kootenays, is the best hike for those who are after a challenging day trip. You will venture through marsh land, forest, staircases, ridgelines and rock until you reach the epic Macbeth Icefield towering above you. Enjoy a narrow waterfall that can be seen for the last few hours of the hike. Rarely visited by tourists, it is a serene and peaceful place to view the vastness of the surrounding wilderness and immerse yourself among locals who have hiked this route for many years.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
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 Mount Loki

Mount Loki

Very Hard
12.8 km
1,166 m
5.5-7.5h

The Mount Loki hike is a classic West Kootenay Hike. Mount Loki is the highest peak seen from many points along the highway between Nelson and Kaslo, and it towers above its neighbouring mountain tops. Snow covered for most of the year, Mount Loki is conquered only in the height of summer and rewards hikers with unbelievable 360 degree views, far removed from the small towns you came from. From up here, Kootenay Lake is barely noticeable, it feels like you are on top of the world.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
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 Jumbo Pass and Horseshoe Glacier

Jumbo Pass and Horseshoe Glacier

Hard
13.0 km
942 m
5-7h

The Jumbo Pass hike is spectacular. Jumbo Pass, famous from Patagonia’s Jumbo Valley documentary and the indigenous history of the Northern Purcell Range, is one of the last remaining wild mountain ranges in B.C. On the hike to Jumbo Pass you can expect to see a stunning valley full of glaciers, meadows and mountain peaks. It is an extremely beautiful place to hike.

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
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Whitewater Canyon

Whitewater Canyon

Hard
16.0 km
836 m
5-7h

The Whitewater Canyon hike take you along the inside of the canyon wall, through a deep Selkirk valley, up through the meadows and finally reaching the alpine lakes. Grizzly bears are frequently spotted on the other side of the canyon and this is a beautiful hike to do during wildflower season in July. The lakes at the top of Whitewater Canyon are turquoise blue and green and you can often see ice caps even in the height of summer.

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
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Gwillim Lakes

Gwillim Lakes

Moderate
12.5 km
789 m
4.5-6h

The Gwillim Lakes Hike is a beautiful hike with a large backcountry campsite located at the top. You can also hike past Gwillim Lakes and explore Lucifer Pass over a full weekend. Passing by many impressive lakes cradled by mountain peaks the whole way up, mirrored pools and flowers a plenty, the Gwillim Lakes hike is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Valhallas.

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 Gimli Ridge

Gimli Ridge

Moderate
8.0 km
694 m
3.5-4.5h

The Gimli Ridge hike is one of the shorter hikes in the Valhallas, but has beautiful views throughout. With stunning views of Mulvey Basin and a chance to explore the old forest, enjoy the view of Gimli Peak and you just may bump into a Mountain Goat (or two!). The Gimli Ridge hike is a hike not to be missed.

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 Kokanee Glacier Cabin

Kokanee Glacier Cabin

Hard
17.5 km
614 m
5-6.5h

The Kokanee Glacier Cabin hike is a stunning hike in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park. Starting at Gibson Lake, the hike to Kokanee Glacier Cabin is a beautiful way to explore the wilderness, not too far from the towns of Nelson or Kaslo.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
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 Idaho Peak

Idaho Peak

Easy
3.4 km
276 m
1.5-2h

Important Notice: The road leading to Idaho Peak trailhead is currently washed out by a mudslide and might take a long time to repair. Please check here for the up to date information.

The Idaho Peak hike is a relatively quick and easy walk along the ridgeline, through colourful wildflowers to an old fire lookout on the top of Idaho Peak. This classic local hike is not one to be missed! From the top of Idaho Peak you are rewarded with exceptional views of Slocan Lake and panoramic mountain ranges – you can see as far as Kokanee Glacier just outside of Nelson.

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 Fry Creek Canyon

Fry Creek Canyon

Moderate
8.3 km
414 m
2.5-3.5h

The Fry Creek Canyon hike is a great shoulder season hike through the impressive Fry Creek Canyon. The canyon itself is impressive and can be followed for as long as you like, although it was partly washed out in 2018. There are plenty of options to explore the beaches, forest and canyon on this hike and head off 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 Pulpit Rock & the Flagpole

Pulpit Rock & the Flagpole

Moderate
6.0 km
648 m
3-4h

The Pulpit Rock hike, and the optional extension to the Flagpole, is a great hike when staying in Nelson. Getting to Pulpit Rock is an easy hike, however, the extra elevation to get to the Flagpole make this an intermediate hike. Pulpit rock offers a beautiful panoramic view of the town of Nelson and west arm of Kootenay Lake. If you make the extra trip to Flagpole you can see down the river towards Castlegar. Perfect for an afternoon trip all year round!

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.

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Open details for Planning A Trip To The West Kootenays

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By Lukas Saville
October 2nd, 2019
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