Quirky Attractions in the Kootenays
Unique, historic, and cultural gems to visit.
Serious hikers know that BC is home to some of the finest trails anywhere. From waterfalls on remote beaches to the country’s longest hut-to-hut trail and heli-hiking in the alpine, British Columbia has it all.
Have you hiked Vancouver Island‘s seaside West Coast Trail? Are you planning a trip to Berg Lake Trail and Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies? Does the East Beach hike in Naikoon Provincial Park on Haida Gwaii beckon? Here are some alternatives to the iconic BC hikes.
Trail description: Old Glory is the highest peak in the Rossland Range, part of the Monashee Mountains. Much of this hike is along open ridge—which makes for some amazing views—and the trail can be explored as a loop. Check out the remains of an old weather station, and when you make it to the top, allow plenty of time for reflection as you gaze out over the Monashees and the Valhalla Range to the north.
Practical info: The hike is approximately 17 km (10.5 mi) total, and you should allow six or seven hours.
Getting here: The trailhead is located about 10 km (six mi) north of Rossland, off Highway 3B. Watch for the wooden signpost, as the small parking area is easy to miss. There is an additional (equally small) parking area across the street.
Trail description: Getting to this trail, located on Flores Island off the west coast of Vancouver Island, is part of the fun. Used by the Ahousaht First Nation for thousands of years as a source of food and medicine, the Wild Side Trail consists of boardwalk through the ancient rainforest and stretches of sandy beach. Camp on the beach for the full experience, and wake up to stunning views of Clayoquot Sound, right from your tent.
Practical info: The trail is 11 km (seven mi) each way, and it is recommended that you stay overnight. Allow eight or nine hours for the full, round-trip hike. Camping and fixed-roof accommodation are both available, and there is a $25 trail use fee. Note: there are some muddy sections along the trail.
Getting here: This remote trail starts in the First Nations village of Ahousaht on Flores Island, north of Tofino. Access is via a 30-minute boat ride (charters and water taxis available), a 10-minute floatplane ride, or a scenic paddle from Tofino.
Trail description: Getting to the top of Carrot Mountain Bluffs is a bit of a scramble, but worth the reward. The trail starts in a subdivision of West Kelowna and climbs steeply. A kilometre in (0.6 miles), you come to a waterfall, and shortly after that, you’ll catch the first glimpses of West Kelowna and Okanagan Lake. When you reach the summit, take a well-deserved break and admire the expansive view of the lake and the Okanagan Valley before making your way back down.
Practical info: This day hike is approximately six kms (four mi) return, and takes about three hours to complete.
Getting here: The trailhead is a 20-minute drive from downtown Kelowna, in West Kelowna. Directions can be found here.
Trail description: Frosty Mountain is the highest peak in E.C. Manning Provincial Park, located in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. This challenging hike boasts incredible views of the Cascades from the summit, and there are plenty of pretty views along the way. Visit in early August to see sub-alpine meadows in full bloom, or come in late September/early October to take in the golden larch trees. These larches are estimated to be as old as 2,000 years, and Manning Park is as far west as they are found.
Practical info: A return trip from Lightning Lake to the summit is 22 km (14 mi). Allow 8-10 hours for a day hike, or spend a night at one of two campsites along the trail.
Getting here: The most popular starting point for this hike is from Manning Park’s Lightning Lake day-use area. Access is off Highway 3, approximately 45 minutes east of Hope.
Trail description: This remote route is for experienced backcountry hikers. From the trailhead, follow the turquoise Wokkpash Creek as you head toward Wokkpash Lake. The ancient hoodoos, eroded over time by wind and rain, that line Wokkpash Gorge are the real draw along this section of the trail, located in Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park. From the lake, follow signposts into Stone Mountain Provincial Park and hike along MacDonald Creek back to the highway. This area is known for its abundant wildlife, so watch for moose, elk, Stone sheep, mountain goats, and black and grizzly bears.
Practical info: The loop is approximately 70 km (43.5 mi) long, and will take anywhere from five days to a week to complete.
Getting here: The recommended starting point is off the Alaska Highway, west of Fort Nelson, at kilometre 645. Four-wheel drive is required along the 17-km (10.5-mi) road that leads to the trailhead, or you can walk this section. The trail exits near kilometre 632 of the Alaska Highway.
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