Pulpit Rock & the Flagpole
- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
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!
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Route Description for Pulpit Rock & the Flagpole
The Pulpit Rock trailhead and paved parking area can be busy any time of day and any time of year, so there is an overflow parking area if you turn around and head back to the first corner. Do not park on the road.
This Pulpit Rock trail is family friendly, well signed, and easy to follow. It is a beautiful way to see the picture perfect town of Nelson, B.C. from above, and gain a perspective for the never ending mountain ranges that surround it.
The entire trail to Pulpit Rock winds upwards through a series of switchbacks in the forest, occasionally offering views of the town of Nelson. Just before you reach the top at around 1.6 km the trail breaks in two for an “easy” route and a “more difficult” route. The more difficult route has one section of steep rocks, but is not too hard. If you have difficulty climbing over rocks then please take the easy route! The return distance to Pulpit Rock is 3.5 km and you gain 340 m of elevation.
Once you reach Pulpit Rock you will see a sign on your right pointing upwards to Flagpole. Go left here and enjoy the views before continuing on, or end your hike here and head back down to town. Going on to the Flagpole adds another 220 m of elevation gain and 2.1 km round trip distance.
If you continue up to the Flagpole there are options for easier and harder routes which are well signed. If you are a capable hiker, take the difficult way up and the easy way down, it offers some variety of views and is nicer on the knees as you descend. The more difficult section has some scrambly bits while the easier path is more switchbacks.
Once you get to the Flagpole, you’ll understand the meaning of the name. There is a Canadian flag there. From here, the views of the Kootenay River and surrounding mountains are spectacular.
There is a trail that continues upwards to the CBC Tower, however, most people are happy going from the Flagpole. Return to your car the same way you came up. The switchbacks make the descent longer, but much easier on your knees.
Insider Hints for Pulpit Rock & the Flagpole
- The Pulpit Rock hike is great for a workout or family trip. Pets are allowed off leash.
- It is easy to bike to from Nelson to the Pulpit Rock Trailhead. There is even a bike rack to lock up your bike.
- Please donate $1 into the box to help the Pulpit Rock Volunteers who maintain this trail.
- Hiking up for sunrise is beautiful as you can see the sun rising over the mountains in the east (in summer this would mean hiking up around 5.30 a.m.).
- There are plenty of great accommodations and food options in Nelson to check out after your hike. It’s a great base for a longer trip, with lots to do and good access.
- You can rent kayaks and paddle boards for less than $15 at lakeside park (on the town side of the big orange bridge).
Getting to the Pulpit Rock & the Flagpole Trailhead
Getting to the Pulpit Rock Trailhead is easy. From downtown Nelson head over the big orange bridge. Take a left onto Johnstone Road and continue for 2.5 km until you see a parking lot and Pulpit Rock Hike sign on the right hand side.
Pulpit Rock & the Flagpole Elevation Graph
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Pulpit Rock & the Flagpole Reviews
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