Hikes in West Kootenays
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!)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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!).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Best Hikes in West Kootenays
Balancing Rock Trail
The Balancing Rock Trail is a quick 2.4 km out-and-back hiking route near Creston, BC, that will take you up to visit a scenic lookout point next to a giant boulder that is balanced atop the bedrock. The trail is mostly made up of switchbacks that climb up the hillside to the lookout, where you can enjoy a sweeping view across the Creston Valley. This trail can become fairly icy/slippery, so make sure to wear proper hiking footwear, especially in the shoulder seasons.
Mount Creston Trail
The Mount Creston Trail is a 7.7 km out-and-back hiking route near Creston, BC, that will take you to several scenic viewpoints that overlook the valley from Balancing Rock and the end of the trail. Along the route, hikers will work through a series of switchbacks to reach the first viewpoint before continuing through a lovely stretch of forest to reach the second. Make sure to bring bug repellent along for this hike, as warmer weather can see the trail heavily populated by mosquitoes.
Ka Papa Cedar Trail
The Ka Papa Cedar Trail is a 2.1 km lollipop hiking route near Stagleap Provincial Park that will lead you through a beautiful stretch of forest surrounded by stunning old-growth cedar trees. While there aren't any scenic viewpoints along the route, the relaxing forest atmosphere and ancient trees will provide enough points of interest to keep you excited and entertained along the trail. With a short distance, easy terrain, and amazing scenery, this is a family-friendly hike that will feel like a fun adventure.
Lost Mountain Hike
The trail up Lost Mountain is a 9.2 km out-and-back hiking route that climbs up a steep and slightly overgrown trail to reach an amazing view from the summit. With an elevation gain of 1,050 m, this hike is a real leg burner; however, the spectacular views overlooking the Canada-U.S. border are enough to make it worthwhile. Make sure to wear proper hiking footwear, as there are some light scramble sections near the summit.
Cornice Ridge Trail
The Cornice Ridge Trail is a 5km lollipop hiking route in Stagleap Provincial Park that skirts around the shores of Bridal Lake and climbs along the ridge to reach a 360° viewpoint at the summit. Made up of easy-to-navigate terrain and picturesque scenery, this hike is a great way to quickly access the subalpine landscape within the park. Bring binoculars for the chance to spot some of the caribou and sheep that frequent the area.
Gibson Lake Trail to Keen Lake
The Gibson Lake Trail to Keen Lake is an 18.7 km out-and-back hiking route in Kokanee Glacier Provincial park that will take you through some picturesque subalpine terrain on the way to see several charming lakes. Although long, this trail is well-maintained and easy to navigate, making for a great longer distance route that is perfect for casual and experienced hikers alike. Make sure to arrive early, as the trailhead is located near the entrance to the park and can become quite busy.
Easter Rock Trail
The Easter Rock Trail is a 2.4 km out-and-back hiking route near Crawford Bay, BC, that will take you through a beautiful stretch of old-growth forest to visit a serene nature reserve. Along the trail, hikers will experience an amazing forest setting and have the opportunity to relax and reconnect with nature. This is a great family-friendly hike near Kootenay Lake that will give you a full appreciation for the natural beauty of this pristine landscape.
Ymir Mountain Hike
The trail leading up Ymir Mountain is a 6.3 km out-and-back hiking route at the Whitewater Ski Resort that climbs uphill through some rocky and technical terrain for amazing views from the summit. The trail follows closely alongside Apex Creek before working up to the ridgeline to an eventual ascent of the summit. From here, you can expect 360° views of the surrounding mountain peaks, including the Sherpa, Vili, and Enma peaks.
White Queen Hike
The trail to the summit of the White Queen is a 10.1 km out-and-back hiking route near Nelson, BC, that will take you through a beautiful stretch of forest and along a ridgeline for views overlooking West Arm Provincial Park. Along the way, hikers will cross over Apex Creek and can expect a peaceful forest setting with amazing views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. This trail features some moderate elevation gain and light scrambling, so make sure to wear proper hiking footwear.
Old Growth Recreation Trail
The Old Growth Recreation Trail is a 2.6 km out-and-back hiking route near the entrance to Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park that will allow you to get up-close and personal with some massive cedar trees. Located right off the main road, this easy-to-navigate trail is the perfect place for a roadside stop to stretch your legs and enjoy the beauty of nature. Take your time exploring the area and reading from the interpretive signs along the trail to find out more about the beautiful forest landscape.
Ripple Ridge Trail
The Ripple Ridge Trail is a 10.1 km out-and-back hiking route in Stagleap Provincial Park that will take you from the edge of Bridal Lake to the top of Ripple Ridge. Along the trail, hikers will experience a beautiful forest setting, as well as panoramic views overlooking the park and the Canada-U.S. border. Keep an eye out for wildlife, as caribou and sheep are often spotted near the highway.
The Slocan-Evans Trail is an 8.2 km out-and-back hiking route that sets out from the town of Slocan and follows closely along the edge of Slocan Lake as it enters Valhalla Provincial Park. The trail is made up of easy-to-navigate forest terrain that provides hikers with numerous viewpoints from which they can look out over the picturesque waters of the lake. Wear proper hiking footwear and avoid this trail in wet weather, as there are several boulder fields along the route that can become extremely slippery when wet.
Wilson Creek Falls Trail
The Wilson Creek Falls Trail is a 2.9 km out-and-back route in Goat Range Provincial Park that travels along a heavily wooded path to arrive at the majestic water of the falls. Once you reach the end of the trail, you will have an amazing view of the powerful and impressive waterfall, as the water gushes over the rugged rock formation. Be careful if traversing this trail with children, as there are a few steep sections that are manageable if you take your time.
The Lockhart Trail is a 23.2 km out-and-back hiking route that will take you deep into the dense forests of Lockhart Creek Provincial Park on a path that runs parallel to the rushing waters of the creek. With over 1600m of elevation gain along the route, this is a tough climb that is sure to leave you exhausted; however, the peaceful atmosphere of the forest will be more than enough to keep your mind off the task at hand. Upper portions of this trail can become overgrown, so be prepared for a bit of a bushwhacking adventure.
Pilot Bay Peninsula Trail
The Pilot Bay Peninsula Trail is a 9km out-and-back hiking route in Pilot Bay Provincial Park that follows along the edge of Kootenay Lake before turning east on an uphill climb through the forest. Along the lower portion of the hike, you will be able to experience amazing views over the water from several viewpoints before relaxing in the peaceful setting of the forest. Make sure to bring bug spray along for this hike, as warm summer months can see mosquitoes out on the trail.
Nancy Greene Lake Loop
The Nancy Greene Lake Loop is a 4.0 km circuit hiking route in Nancy Greene Provincial Park that skirts around the tranquil shores of the lake and explores the surrounding forests. Along the trail, you will experience a peaceful woodland atmosphere and take in amazingly scenic views over the calm waters of the lake. With easy terrain and picturesque surroundings, this is a family-friendly hike that is perfect when combined with a weekend of camping.
The Badger Trail is an 8.0 km lollipop hiking route that passes through a residential area before entering into Gladstone Provincial Park. Once in the park, hikers will experience forested trails and scenic views over Christina Lake from Mary’s Lookout. Those looking for more of an adventure can continue along the eastern edge of the lake past the campground to extend their hike for a few more kilometres.
Old Glory Trail
The Old Glory Trail is a 19.0 km out-and-back hiking route in the Rossland Range Recreation Site that climbs uphill through the forest to visit the crash site of a RCAF B-25 Mitchell Bomber from 1947 and the summit of Old Glory Mountain. Along the trail, you can expect to hike through dense forests, over steep, rocky terrain, and witness amazing views from the rugged summit of the mountain. This is a great hike for those looking for a fun challenge, as well as anyone with historical interests.
Kuskanax Creek Nakusp Hot Springs Trail
The Kuskanax Creek Nakusp Hot Springs Trail is a 16.6 km out-and-back hiking route that climbs uphill through the canyon and passes through beautiful old-growth forests to arrive at several relaxing hot springs along the Kuskanax Creek. Hikers can expect a moderately difficult route with a decent elevation gain and good mix of terrain that includes forested trails and creek crossings. Remember to pack your swimwear to take full advantage of the restorative nature of the thermal pools after the first leg of the hike.
Great Northern Trail
The Great Northern Trail is an 11.1 km out-and-back hiking route that will take you from the city of Nelson along an abandoned rail line to the sandy beaches of 5 Mile Point. Hikers will make their way along a well-maintained and easy-to-navigate trail that is surrounded by beautiful forests and scenic views of the surrounding area. This hiking route is a fantastic way to explore the natural beauty of the landscape surrounding Nelson.
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