The following information is from Backroad Mapbook Kootenays Edition, Where Locals Hike in the West Kootenays, Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, Chris Clarkson, and Janet McCulloch.
For more awesome hikes, please look for the books Backroad Mapbooks by Mussio Ventures, Don’t Waste Your Time in the West Kootenays by Kathy and Craig Copeland, and Hiking the West Kootenay by John Carter.
Fletcher Falls Provincial Park.
Level- easy. Duration- 10 minutes to beach.
Location: 20 minutes north of Balfour on Hwy 31, aprox. 25 km
On right side of hwy watch for sign “Fletcher Crescent.” Just beyond that on the right is a road turning right, off hwy with a sign on tree that says Fletcher Falls. Not well marked. Off road parking. Walk down access road to beach and falls. Steep trail short cut. Walk is approx. 10 minutes. Campground on beach with picnic tables and fire pit. Walk in ravine to falls. Very dramatic and picturesque. Good swimming beach.
Fletcher Lake Trail.
Level- difficult. Duration- 2 hours 1 way-(1.6 km)
Location: Turn off Hwy 31, 23.2 km north of Balfour onto a dirt road and drive to a junction at the crest of a hill. Turn right and follow the main logging road for 13.6 km to a descending side road on the right. Drive down to the log landing and park. Follow the skid road eastward into the trees where the trail begins. Trail: A rough and sometimes steep and slippery hike brings you to lower Fletcher Lake. Watch for bears.
Cody Caves Road.
3 km past Ainsworth Hot Springs turn off Hwy 31 onto dirt road.
Good off-highway road with a few rough spots. High-vehicle 2WD is fine. The road to the caves is 10 km. Lots of spots to stop and walk the hills. Watch for bears. The caves no longer have guided tours and are closed to the public.
Old Ainsworth Cemetery.
Level- easy. Duration- drive right to cemetery grounds.
Location: At Ainsworth Hot Springs, turn up at “Fletcher Co.” building. Stay right and continue up road staying to the right. Road becomes very rough. Continue to Ainsworth Cemetery sign and park in trees. Walk 1 minute into 120-year-old cemetery. Beautiful lake view at crest. There is a trail at the northeast side that leads down to the creek. Follow the trail and come to old unused mining roads. The roads crisscross the hills in the area. Do not go into any old mines. Watch for bears.
Coffee Creek Trail.
Coffee creek trail access is now through the road across from the power station on the north side of the creek.
This road is gated but there is ample parking at the power station. Stay left going up the road and you will reach the creek and the first bridge. From this point there is a road on either side of the creek that goes a couple of kms to another bridge. From the second bridge the road is deactivated but a trail is kept open by ATVs. You can fish above the second bridge, at the end of the deactivated road there is an old forestry campsite, a much more rustic trail leads into the park from here. This is Grizzly Bear country !!! .
This hike is mostly on logging road, and only after the picnic tables is nice forest. Not a day trip.
Balfour Golf Club Trail.
Level- very easy. Duration- 30 minutes
From Balfour Golf Course follow woodland trail around perimeter of the course. Well maintained.
Balfour Woodland Walk.
Level- very easy. Duration- 45 minutes around various trails. Trails originally developed as ATV trails by local teens. The trails are accessed behind the Balfour tennis courts or from the gravel pit across from the Balfour Golf Course.
Ross Lake Trail.
Level- easy. Duration- 1.5 hours return (2 km)
Location: From Hwy 3A, 2 km west of Balfour turn onto Beggs Road and follow it for 2 km until you reach the logging road. Continue on this road for 10 km until a road to the left is reached. Continue (drive 4WD or walk) on this road for 1.2 km to the trail head.
Trail: Trail gains elevation quickly to a small subalpine lake at an elevation of 1816 m. Good fishing.
Kokanee Creek Park.
Level-easy. Duration- 1-2 hours on trails of various description.
Location: 15 km west of Balfour on Hwy 3A
Trails: Eight trails leave from the West Kootenay Visitor Centre which is located in the park. Darkwood Trail, Grassland Trail, Woodland Walk, Canyon Trail (leads to Kokanee Glacier-fed waterfall), Thicket Trail, Pine Trail, Redfish Beach Trail, and Sandspit Beach Trail (leads to artificial spawning channel where there are Kokanee in late August). The trails go through different parts of the park. Trails are well maintained.
Kokanee Glacier Park.
Old Growth Trail.
Level- easy Duration 2 hrs return (1.5 km)
Location: From Balfour driving west on Hwy 3A for 11.8 km, take the Kokanee Creek Road from Kokanee Creek Park. Drive 11.5 km and park on the left near the signed trail head.
Trail: This hidden and new trail wanders through forest of large cedars in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park. There is a nice viewpoint, a very large split boulder, and remnants of the tramway system which used to haul ore from the Molly Gibson Mine to the terminus of the tramway. Amazing old cedars (one is 600 years old), stairways, and bridges cross the creek. Crossing an avalanche slide, you can see a waterfall on the mountain side. (highly recommended)
Gibson Lake Loop.
Level- easy Duration- 1 hour walk (2.5 km)
Location: On Kokanee Creek Road drive 16 km to the parking lot located in Kokanee Glacier Park. Watch for road signs.
Trail: Walk around the lake which is in a beautiful alpine setting with picnic areas, outhouses, fishing opportunities, and views of the mountain peaks. Warning: due to porcupines, wrap car with chicken wire. Road is dirt and rough.
Gibson Lake to Slocan Chief Cabin Trail.
Gibson Lake to Kokanee Lake- 2 hours
Well-used trail with idyllic lake plateaus, alpine flowers, and 100-yr-old mining cabin.
Kokanee Lake to Kaslo Lake- 1.5 hours
This provides you with the first views of Kokanee Glacier. Enjoy alpine meadows and fishing.
Kaslo Lake to Slocan Chief Cabin- 1 hour.
Glacier views and 103-year-old cabin, tent pads, outhouses, and beautiful new memorial cabin built in 2003. The new cabin has 12 rooms that can be reserved ahead of time. Fully functional kitchen with modern propane stoves, large gathering area, and more.
Six Mile Lakes Trail
Level- easy Duration- 1.75 hours one way (2.5 km)
Location: 20 km west of Balfour, turn up Six Mile Road, drive 9 km up the road, keep right and go a further 3.4 km to a parking area on the left and a sign indicating the trail.
Trail: This trail is relatively new with minimal elevation gain. It is a great location to experience wildlife, wildfowl, and picturesque lakes. Enjoy a trek in the mountains while not straying far from civilization.
Pilot Bay Provincial Park
Level- easy Duration- 3-5 hours up top 12.8 km
Location: From the Kootenay Bay Ferry terminal turn south-east onto paved Pilot Bay road. At 3.4 km turn left onto a signed access road. Park here at the trail head.
Trail: The trail leads to a marine park campsite (2.5 km) and then continues to several secluded beaches and lookouts. Beautiful views of the lake and surrounding peaks.
Short walk to lighthouse on lakeside 1 km further along road. Lovely woodland trails. (highly recommended)
Going Further Afield:
North East of Kaslo at the end of Buchanan Lookout Road is a 2 km trail which leads around the 1965 Fire Lookout building. Interpretive signs along the trail and the great view from the 1,912 m summit are two of the main attractions of the area. There are day use facilities and 2 hang-gliding launches near the lookout.
From Kaslo drive 28.2 km north on Hwy 31 and park just north of Davis Creek bridge. A moderate 10 km hike (21/2 to 4 hrs.) accesses a small plateau overlooking Lardeau. A grove of very old cedars and hemlocks live here. Trail ends on the shore of Fishhook Lake.
2 km past Johnson’s Landing on the southeast side of Kootenay Lake is the old mining trail that follows Fry Creek into a remote mountainous area in the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy. The hike can be as far as 24 km gaining 287 m. The trail is well used, but narrow in places and has good views. Best hiked in spring when the creek is at its roaring, churning peak. The trail is easy and very entertaining.
This is a hiking, biking, and cross-country ski trail on the abandoned 1894 CPR railgrade from Sandon to New Denver. The route is well signed, easy 1.5 hour one way walk from New Denver north to Rosebery Park or 6 km east to Three Forks. The route to Three Forks is easily found off Denver Siding Road off Highway 31A and passes by the old townsite of Alamo and an old mining concentrator. A small side trip to Carpenter Creek rewards with views of the narrow canyon walls and an awesome thundering torrent. Total hiking time can be anywhere between 41/2 to 51/2 hours.
Giveout Creek Trails
The trails Cottonwood Route, Kenville Mine Route, King of the Mountain trail, and Silver-Stanley Loop are found just south of Nelson off Giveout Creek Road accessed from Silverking Road. The various roads are fine for off road biking and snowmobiling.
A 12 km drive on the Idaho Peak Road from the historic town of Sandon to the parking lot brings you to the head of the trail. The trail is 2.8 km round trip and winds through alpine slopes covered in a brilliant display of wildflowers in early summer. The scenic trail culminates at a fire lookout at 2, 280 m and is best hiked from early July to October when there is little or no snow.
Across the Harrop Ferry or boat launched from Sandspit Provincial Park, from the shores of Kootenay Lake it is a difficult 35 km hike to the headwaters of Lasca Creek. Allow 2 or 3 days to explore the alpine area of the West Arm Park.
On Hwy 31N turn east on Argenta Road then travel 39 km. Accessed off the Glacier North Road, the moderate trail to Monica Meadows is an 8.4 km hike return. You climb over 686 m to a beautiful alpine plateau with panoramic views. Please help protect this sensitive alpine environment and leave no trace.
At Taghum west of Nelson the trail starts at the end of Sproule Creek Road. The easy 10 km (3-4 hr) trail follows an old railgrade to a historic mill and beautiful meadow area and canyon views. It is a 262 m climb and the surrounding ridges can be climbed for extended touring.
Wilson Creek is between Nakusp and New Denver crossing Goat Range Provincial Park. The waterfalls trail is found off the East Wilson Creek Road on the east side of Slocan Lake at the 11.5 km mark. From the trailhead it is a steep 3 km trail that descends 90 m to the cascading falls. The Wilson Creek Trail is another kilometre up the road off a narrow, rough 4WD road. From the signed trailhead, the easy, well developed trail climbs 120m over 6km one-way. Watch for large animals including caribou, elk, mountain goats, and Grizzly Bears.