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April 25, 2024

Adventure Meets Nature – Hiking in our National Parks

Embrace the thrill of nature by conquering the trails in our National Parks. Unleash your spirit of adventure and trek across our majestic parks – Glacier, Kootenay, Mt. Revelstoke, and Yoho. Here are few awe-inspiring trails to explore:

Hiking in Glacier National Park; photo by Andrew Chad

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK

Bear Creek Falls Trail (Easy; 95-m Elevation Change; 1-km return) – For hikers looking for a short & easy trek, the Bear Creek Falls hike is an optimal choice for those seeking swift yet enjoyable experience. Conveniently located just off the Highway, the short journey to the Falls takes a mere 20 minutes each way. The Connaught Creek waters cascade over the falls to join the Beaver River a short distance downstream, eventually ending up at the Pacific Ocean. Whether you’re passing through or planning a day trip, this is an adventure you won’t want to miss!

Hiking to Bear Creek Falls in Glacier National Park, near Golden; photo by Mitch Winton

Great Glacier (Moderate; 320-m Elevation change; 8.4-km Return) – Discover the majesty of the “Great Glacier,” or as it’s now known, the Illecillewaet Glacier. This impressive landmark has captivated visitors since the 1880s. Back in the day, a leisurely jaunt from the railway and comforts of Glacier House brought you straight to this icy marvel. Over the centuries, witnessing nature’s transformation, we’ve seen the ice retreat about 1.5-km upslope.

Discover the powerful beauty of Illecillewaet area through one of its shorter trails. While it may not lead you directly to the base of the Illecillewaet Glacier, it gifts you with an unparalleled panorama. Gaze upon the majesty of Mount Sir Donald and the striking Vaux Glacier to the east.

Perley Rock Trail (Expert; 1,145-m Elevation change; 12.8-km return) – Conquer the day as you venture on an exhilarating hike in Glacier National Park, culminating at a premium viewpoint overlooking the majestic Illecillewaet Icefield and bountiful Abbott Ridge. The path climbs steadily, crossing the soothing Vaux Creek before initiating a challenging yet rewarding ascent into the alpine. Countless switchbacks later, you are a master a formidable snow slope.

Conquering snow slopes comes with risks, but stride boldly on, taking added care if ice paints the scene. Crampons could be your best friend on such an exhilarating journey! After the snowy ascent, bask in the reward: a scenic vantage point that offers an unparalleled gaze upon the majestic wilderness of the Illecillewaet Icefield.

Incredible views from the Perley Rock Trail in Glacier National Park; photo by Andrew Chad

KOOTENAY NATIONAL PARK

Simpson River Trail (Easy; 135-m Elevation Gain; 8.8-km Return) – Embark on a remarkable journey through the Simpson Creek Trail, a testament to the transformative power of fire. The first 1.5 km offers informative signs, guiding you in decoding the intriguing saga of nature: lightning strikes, wildfire sparks, regeneration blooms, and succession steps in. Nestled near the confluence of three valleys, this forested trail is teeming with signs of wildlife – so keep your eyes peeled.

Stanley Glacier Trail (Moderate; 385-m Elevation Gain; 10-km Return) – Hike through one of the most popular trails and indulge in the awe-inspiring spectacle of glacial water cascading down grand rock faces in the enchanting alpine basin.

Venture to an era 508 million years in the past, a time before the dinosaurs graced the Earth. Imagine a scene totally unique; Kootenay and Yoho national parks submerged under the serene surface of a shallow sea. Now, these preserved tokens of an ancient age, the Burgess Shale fossils, grace the high peaks of our mountains embedded in shale-rich rock beds. Ensure that you sign up to Parks Canada’ Burgess Shale hike

Stanley Glacier Hike in Kootenay National Park, near Radium Hot Springs; photo courtesy of Parks Canada

Rockwall Trail (Expert; 3,405-m Elevation Gain; 54.1-km One-Way) – Experience the crown jewel of the Canadian Rockies: the famous Rockwall Trail. This sturdy 54 km (34 mile) journey will heighten your memory with views of high alpine passes, lush meadows, and awe-inspiring hanging glaciers. But it’s not just a trail, it’s the gateway to a panoramic spectacle – a colossal limestone cliff which, in some locations, ascends over 900 m (2,953 feet) complimenting your path. If adventure fuels your courage, let the Rockwall Trail be your ultimate destination!

This multi-day backcountry hiking adventure requires reservations at the campgrounds along the route. Campers must camp in designated campgrounds as indicated on your backcountry permit and use the tent pads provided to minimize impact on vegetation. Random camping is not permitted anywhere in Kootenay National Park.

Backcountry hiking along the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park; photo by Kari Medig

MOUNT REVELSTOKE NATIONAL PARK

Nels Knickers Interpretative Trail (Easy; 139-m Elevation Gain; 800-m Return) – Step into the golden age when ski jumping was a spectacle in Revelstoke. It’s hard not to feel a surge of adrenaline, picturing trailblazers like Nels Nelsen, Bob Lynburne, and Isabelle Coursier, defying gravity amidst roaring applause.

The awe-inspiring Nels Nelsen Ski Jump still stands as a testament to the triumphant history, even after its last use 40 years ago. Experience the exhilarating rush as you stand at the crest of the hill, with the ground falling away sharply beneath you. Slip into a pair of meticulously recreated Nels’ Knickers and be inspired by the legendary world-record holder, Nels Nelsen himself.

Eva Lake (Moderate; 465-M Elevation Gain; 14.2-km Return) – Conquer the majestic Eva Lake trail. It boasts a breathtaking journey through lush alpine meadows, across a valley adorned with rugged boulders, and weaving through a subalpine forest. Arriving at the lake is a victory, but don’t stop there! There’s an incredible viewpoint and a slice of history waiting for you in the form of a 1920s warden cabin along the shoreline.

On the trail where you’ll encounter the exhilarating calls of hoary marmots, resounding like sharp, human-like whistles, and the gentle bleats of the pikas. Venture into the sanctioned backcountry campground at Eva Lake – remember, securing a permit is mandatory for overnight stays.

Enjoying Eva Lake in Mt. Revelstoke National Park; photo by Destination BC

Upper Jade Lake (Expert; 714-m Elevation Gain; 18.8-km Return) – At the Upper Summit Shuttle Bus stop. Trust your instincts and venture down the captivating Eva Lake Trail till the second junction – that’s just 5.4 km from the trailhead. Take the right turn and prepare for an astounding revelation as you march towards Jade Pass – a breath-taking 360-degree panorama of the surrounding lakes and mountains is your reward.  Then, maneuver your way down the precipitous trail to discover the splendidly green waters of the Upper and Lower Jade lakes.

Secure your backcountry camping permits and unlock an extraordinary overnight adventure at Jade Lakes. 

YOHO NATIONAL PARK

Emerald lake (Easy; 5.2-km Return) – Experience the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains as you traverse an inviting trail along a scenic lakeshore. The grandeur of mountains and glaciers will accompany your journey, with a convenient, flat gravel path leading from the parking area to a picturesque bridge at the rear of the lake. Revel in the sun-soaked forest on the west side of the water, then switch up the terrain with a lush, damp Columbian forest filled with cedar and hemlock trees on the east side. 

Fun Fact: Emerald Lake’s vivid green colour is caused by powdered rock from the glaciers, which reflects the blue-green spectrum of sunlight. The rock type and the amount of it in the water causes the colour to vary from lake to lake and month to month.

Canoeing on Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park; photo by Dave Heath

Twin Falls (Moderate; 300-m Elevation Gain; 16.4-km Return) – Unleash your adventurous spirit and follow the trail to Laughing Falls. Witness the grandeur where Yoho and Little Yoho Rivers stunningly converge. Don’t stop there, keep exploring the mesmerizing Yoho River that will lead you to an awe-striking double cascade and the iconic Twin Falls Tea House National Historic Site.

Trailhead access from the Takakkaw Falls parking area. Remember to secure your backcountry permit in advance. Show off your permit, be it a printed copy or a screenshot, proudly to Parks Canada staff when asked. It’s more than a requirement – it’s your ticket to an unforgettable journey.

Fun Fact: Twin Falls Tea House National Historic Site – When the train whistles resonated through the mighty Rocky Mountains in the burgeoning 1900s, the Canadian Pacific Railway pioneered grand hotels, rustic lodges, and secluded backcountry chalets amidst Canada’s most awe-inspiring natural landscapes. Don’t miss out on the chance to visit the historic log building while day-hiking, where you can enjoy its rustic architecture and breathtaking views of the dual cascades of Twin Falls.

Burgess Shale – Mount Stephen (Expert; 795-m Elevation Gain; 9-km Return) – Hold a 500-million-year-old fossil in your hand! Experience this exhilarating adventure to the famous Mount Stephen trilobite beds, standing tall over the picturesque town of Field, BC. Be part of history where once railway workers stumbled upon these ‘stone bugs’ in the 1880s. Ready for an enchanting hunt of limitless trilobites combined with mesmerizing views of the Kicking Horse River below.

Burgess Shale Fossil Find; photo by Dave Quinn

Burgess ShaleWalcott Quarry (Expert; 825-m Elevation Gain; 22-km Return) –  This classic journey starting at the majestic Takakkaw Falls, sweeping views of Emerald Lake included. Traverse unparalleled mountain scenes and immerse yourself into the fascinating history of the peculiar Burgess Shale creatures. Discover the interesting journey of their fossilization and how they ended up atop a mountain in the iconic Yoho National Park.

Proudly supporting our national parks and historical sites has never been easier! Your fee goes directly to enhance visitor experiences, bolster vital services, maintain high-quality facilities, and spearhead important conservation initiatives. Your love for these magnificent parks contributes to their preservation. 

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