While we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, we are celebrating the wonders of our national parks.
With Golden, B.C. being surrounded by six national parks (Kootenay National Park being one of them), we have decided to feature a few of our favourite hikes to help you get started with your planning.
Kootenay National Park feels rather deserted compared to the monster Banff National Park that links up to it. This national park is located along Highway 93, the highway that links Banff to Radium Hot Springs.
This park does see significantly less visitors than some of its neighbours, so if you want the chance to have the trails to yourself, heading in this directions would be a good bet.
The drive to the park is beautiful in itself, and here are a few of what we think are the the best hikes in Kootenay National Park.
Arguably one of the most popular trails in the park, this moderate hike leads to a stunning view of Stanley Glacier. This 8.4 km round-trip hikes gains only 365 meters throughout its trail, making it a fairly popular half-day hike.
The trail starts with a moderate climb through a regenerating forest, eventually leading up to glaciated peaks. The first half of the hike rolls along a valley in an old forest fire path, while the end showcases the mountains in all their glory.
Many waterfalls cascade down cliffs along route, which are fun to venture to away from the obvious trail.
This hike is just a few minutes down Highway 93 if you take the Highway 1 turnoff from Castle Junction. The parking area is on the left, soon after you see the sign for entering British Columbia.
For an easy, yet beautiful stroll through the woods, the hike to the paint pots is a great family outing. It’s a neat sight, and is easily accessible.
The paint pots are these little pools of colour in Kootenay National Park, with their water being fed from springs. These little gems are found via a well-groomed 1 km trail that leads to the water.
If you are still up for more action, you can access the paint pots via a less formal trail that leads through a forest. This path has excellent views of the mountains, and leads to the Vermilion River where you will cross a bridge. The trail then connects to Marble Canyon (a further 2.7 km south), or the paint pots.
The parking lot for this short excursion is well-marked, and about 20 km south from Castle Junction.
Part of a famous multi-day hike in the Canadian Rockies - the Kootenay Rockwall trail - this lake is a gorgeous piece of water surrounded by one giant, you guessed it, rock wall.
This hike starts with a steady climb through an old forest fire, which ripped through the area in 2003.
The final part of the trail is where the difficulty lies - it sees a lot of elevation gain with a whole whack of switchbacks. But, as with most climbs, the views as you end at the lake are worth it.
For a total of 21 km and 1,000 metres of elevation gain, this hike can be split into 2 days by staying at the campground at Floe Lake. For those who want to continue on to the Rockwall trail, the trailheads are close by.
Or for those who want more of an “epic” view, you can continue 2 km past the campground on a trail that leads up to Numa Pass.
You can access this hike about 32km down the highway from Castle Junction.
Kindersley/ Sinclair Loop
This is a more difficult hike, but for those looking for a day adventure, it should do just the trick.
This is a 19km loop that brings you to awesome views of two valleys. With 1325 meters of elevation gain, this trail could be quite difficult, however it is generally a gradual incline throughout the day.
This hike is closer to Radium Hot Springs. The parking lot can be found on the left, about 12 km east of the Highway 93 and 95 junction. The trailhead itself is across the road.
Take note that once you finish this trail, you will have to walk roughly 1km along the road to get back to the parking lot.
So there you have it, some of our favourite hikes from this Kootenay National Park.
If you feel up to the drive, the scenery down Highway 93S is absolutely spectacular, and worthy of an excursion all on its own. If you want to take a scenic (yet lengthy) route to Golden from Banff, head down Highway 93S from Castle Junction to Radium. From here, you only need to drive another 1 1/2 hours along the Columbia Valley (with sweeping views of the Columbia wetlands) to reach our lovely little town.
Live an adventure!
Cheers, from the Glacier crew.