To aspire to hike to the top of Fisher Peak (2,845 m/9,335 ft.) near Cranbrook, Mt. Begbie (2,733 m/8,967 ft.) in Revelstoke, and Mt. Burgess (2,599 m/8,527 ft.) in Yoho National Park – it takes training and climbing skills to reach the top of these epic peaks.
However, if you are a family with small children, or enjoy leisurely excursions or just cannot get the ‘old knees’ to work on the downhill descents — here are some easy treks to outstanding 360-degree views in the Kootenays.
KASLO – You can drive to this summit and family picnic spot. There is also a 2-km loop trail, offering spectacular views of wildflower blooms when in season (July/Aug). From Kaslo head west on Highway #31A for 11-km to the Blue Ridge Forest Service Road, then follow signs. The road is extremely bumpy, so 4×4 vehicle (or 2WD with high clearance) is recommended — especially for the trip down.
CASTLEGAR – The Dove Hill trail-head can be accessed from the Castlegar Golf Course Road, just past the Golf Course fence gate. The trail ascends up the west and south faces of Dove Hill. There are several benches along the way for you to stop and rest. Near the top of the hill, the trail splits in two directions, leading to two separate viewpoints (Dove Hill & Surrey Hill)
FAIRMONT HOT SPRINGS – This is an easy trail for the entire family. After leaving the parking area, follow the old road up the hill through the opening at the left end of the gate. The trail climbs moderately for about 5-10 minutes, then levels out for the remainder. Keep left at junctions, as all trails lead to the hoodoos and spectacular views of the Columbia River valley.
ROSSLAND – An easy, woodsy walk/bike to Kootenay Columbia summit, overlooking Rossland and the Columbia Valley. This popular community trail is great for hikers, trail runners and mountain biking.
REVELSTOKE – The 26-km uphill drive (from the Trans-Canada Highway) takes you through forest of cedar and hemlock, spruce and fire to the renowned subalpine wildflower meadow of Mt. Revelstoke National Park. Once at the Balsam Lake parking area, take the shuttle to the summit or trek it.
GOLDEN – It’s a short hike to the paraglider launch site (and another 200-m above to the peak of Mount 7) but both spots offer amazing views of the Columbia River valley. Driving to the top is very steep (and unrelenting), a 4×4 vehicle is recommended. Head south from Golden on Highway 95 and turn off at Reflection Lake 200-m past the railway overpass. Go straight through the Y-junction (do not go right) and follow the road up the hill. Turn right onto the Bowle-Evans FSR, set you odometer to ‘0’ here and drive up the road for 13.8-km to the parking area.
INVERMERE – There is a network of seven trails on this mountain. Some are single-use and others are shared between hikers and mountain bikers. For the best views of the Columbia Valley, many hikers recommend that you veer to the left whenever you come to a fork in the trail, keeping to the west ridge.
GOLDEN – Take the gondola to the top of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, from here it’s an easy scramble up to the peak — offering views of the ski resort and the town of Golden.
NAKUSP – Vicky’s View is an accessible and spectacular viewpoint close to town. You can reach Vicky’s View via the Kuskanax Mountain Road. A short walk through the forest takes you to awesome views of Upper Arrow Lake, the village of Nakusp, the Valhalla Range to the south and the Monashee Range to the west.
CRANBROOK/KIMBERLEY – The Wycliffe Butte, the 2-km trail leads to a rocky knoll at 1070 m (3,500 ft.). The elevation gain to the south Butte is 130 m (425 ft.) Speckled with beautiful wildflowers, Balsamroot, between May to June – this is a local ‘must-see’. The subtle grade incline ensures that this view can be enjoyed by anyone with two feet and a heartbeat (dogs too).
Here are a few other notable easy treks with breath-taking views (just under 360-degrees):
~ Eager Hill & Elizabeth Lake – Cranbrook, BC
~ Emerald Lake – Yoho National Park
~ Fernie Alpine Resort – Fernie, BC
~ Island Lake – Fernie, BC at Island Lake Lodge
~ Josephine Falls – Sparwood, BC
~ Kimberley Alpine Resort – Kimberley, BC
~ Lakit Look-out – near Fort Steele/Cranbrook, BC
~ Old Coach Trail – Radium Hot Springs, BC
~ Panorama Mountain Resort – Panorama, BC
~ Revelstoke Mountain Resort – Revelstoke, BC
~ Silver Springs Lakes – Elko, BC
~ Sunflower Hill – Kimberley, BC
~ Wapta Falls – Yoho National Park
Be sure to visit the local Visitor Centres to get the most updated road & trail conditions of these popular Kootenay treks.
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