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    Whitewater Canyon

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    16.0 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    836 m
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Overall Rating
    This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
    Physical Difficulty
    This 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.
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Technical Difficulty
    This 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.
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Read Reviews
    Directions to Trailhead
    Panorama of Whitewater Canyon hike in West Kootenays

    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.

    View Whitewater Canyon on Map

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    Route Description for Whitewater Canyon

    If you want to hike Whitewater Canyon, near Retallack, B.C, a 4WD is essential for the Forest Service Road (FSR) portion of the road to the trailhead. This FSR is not maintained.

    The Whitewater Canyon hike is notorious for grizzly sightings, so be bear aware at all times, have bear spray and do this hike in a group. Not only is the Whitewater Canyon hike more fun with friends, it’s also safer.

    Finally, from early September, it can get as cold as 0 Celsius in the Whitewater Canyon parking lot (where it is possible to camp) at night, so bring warm clothes if camping.

    The Whitewater Canyon hike is full of outstanding natural beauty, with views across Whitewater Canyon the entire way. The hike ends with a short scramble up to several stunning turquoise and green alpine lakes.

    As you drive up to the trailhead, and then begin your hike along the canyon wall, you are quickly above tree line and able to enjoy gorgeous views of the valley, small plants, and flowers. Grizzly bears can often be spotted on the other side of Whitewater Canyon.

    This Whitewater Canyon trail is relatively easy to follow. The first 2.0 km are through a mundane forest, but before you know it you are at the start of the canyon, where the trail crosses over to the left-hand side.

    You will be hiking upwards steadily for most of the way until you get to the meadows and rocky fields at the start of the valley. Here you will continue to ascend steadily through rocky, grassy areas with some beautiful coloured rock formations. You can also see the old trail on the other side of the canyon most of the way which is now closed due to being prime habitat for grizzly bears.

    Once you get to the end of the meadows, you may notice an old mining line in the earth, or what appears to be an immediate end to the trail with no signage or indication of where to continue.

    You should continue upwards, over the rock-slide where you will need to use your hands, following cairns that lead almost immediately ahead and a little to the left. This is the best and easiest way to go.

    You can also follow the old mining line around to the right and cut back across (this is the route in the GPS file) but it is much steeper, longer and not worth the additional time and effort that could be spent at the lakes!

    You’ll continue up and go over Whitewater Pass, the high-point on this hike. Don’t be surprised to find some mining paraphernalia here. Continue onwards and find several brilliant lakes. Our map shows a circuit we made exploring these stunning lakes.

    Once you’ve spent enough time marvelling at the beauty, follow your path back down to the car.

    Insider Hints for Whitewater Canyon

    • Retallack Lodge (if you have the money!) is a great destination for biking in the summer and CAT skiing in the winter, with luxury accommodations.
    • Kalso is a beautiful town and place to spend a weekend. You can do a loop of the river called Kaslo River Walk, or head downtown and explore the SS Moyie boat and lakeside trails.
    • Bluebelle Bistro in Kaslo has delicious cakes and meals.
    • Angry Hen Brewery in Kaslo is a new local brewery.

    Getting to the Whitewater Canyon Trailhead

    From Kalso, follow highway 31A towards Retallack Lodge. Follow highway 31A for 25.0 km until you cross Whitewater Creek. Roughly 900 m after the creek, and just past historic buildings on your right, you will see a sign for Whitewater Canyon Trail. Go right here and proceed up the Whitewater Canyon FSR road for 4.3 km. A 4WD vehicle is necessary due to rocks and water bars.

    Route Information

    • When to do

      Early July to Late September

    • Backcountry Campsites

      1 small area where it’s possible to camp

    • Pets allowed


    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Whitewater Canyon Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

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    Whitewater Canyon Reviews

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