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Four Kootenay Rockies Hiking Trails to Explore This Fall

Try these four Kootenay hikes this fall, before the frost settles in




Embrace the changing weather this fall with a trip to the Kootenays

Maple leaves are turning from amber to red and the scent of pumpkin spice is in the air; fall is officially coming. Make the most of the end of the summer by layering up to explore quieter hiking trails in B.C.’s Kootenay Rockies. The picturesque region is easily accessible from Vancouver by taking Highway 1 towards Revelstoke, stopping for a desert hike in Kamloops’s Kenna Cartwright Park on the way. Try these four fall hikes, from short summit strolls to bucket list backpacking trips, before the late summer sun sets and the frost settles in. Even this early, it’s common for snow to fall at elevation on many of these hikes, so hikers should be prepared to encounter snow on the trail.


Discover the Meadows in the Sky at Mount Revelstoke National Park

Hike the Summit Trail from the base of Mount Revelstoke (a four to five hour, 10-kilometre hike with 1,353 metres of elevation gain) or drive the picturesque Meadows in the Sky Parkway for 30 minutes to climb 1,600 metres, stopping at viewpoints on the way up to Balsam Lake. Park there to take the one-kilometre uphill Upper Summit Trail or hop on the Mount Revelstoke Park Shuttle to get to the summit’s subalpine wildflower meadows. Look out for Mount Begbie in the west and the Selkirk Mountains in the east on a clear fall day. Short trails from the summit take hikers through lakeside loops and along First Nations sculpture walks. Closes late September.


Trek the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park

Backcountry bucket lists often include the incredible Rockwall Trail. Taking its name from the 900-metre limestone cliff that looms over the famous 55-kilometre trail, it traverses three alpine passes and takes hikers past subalpine meadows and hanging glaciers on the three- to four-day hike. Access is via one of three trailheads along Highway 93 (Numa Falls Trail is closed for 2016). Beginners can enjoy an abridged two-day or four-hour version, such as the 12.6-kilometre (round trip) Helmet/Ochre Junction campground trail. Pick up a Wilderness Pass to stay at one of five backcountry campgrounds — each has tent pads, dry toilets and food lockers. Experienced backpackers can connect with trails in Banff, Yoho National Park and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. Closes mid-October.


Visit Conrad Kain Hut in Bugaboo Provincial Park

Wilderness adventurers have long been attracted to the isolated Bugaboo Provincial Park. Conrad Kain Hut is named after the famous mountain climber who is credited with making the first ascent of Bugaboo Spire in 1916. Steep and strenuous, the 700-metre elevation trail takes two to three hours to climb (and two to three hours to descend) and is accessed via the gravel Bugaboo Creek Forest Service Road. Reserve ahead to stay at the hut, which sleeps a maximum of 35 people and is operated by BC Parks and the Alpine Club of Canada. Alternatively, set up your tent below the hut at Boulder Camp or one kilometre above the hut on the rock face of Applebee Dome. Hut facilities close at the end of September.


Hike Spineback Trail at Island Lake Lodge in Fernie

Surrounded by giant peaks, Fernie’s Island Lake Lodge gives hikers a luxurious overnight stop with access to more than 10 marked wilderness trails that range from easy to challenging. Take the advanced Spineback Trail through subalpine meadows up to a lookout between the Three Bears’ peaks (a three to four hour, 3.5-kilometre hike with a 530-metre gain). Hike the crest of the mountain — parallel to the Spineback Ridge — or stroll some of the lodge’s trails that take in giant old growth cedars, old railways and panoramic views of Island Lake. Closes October 2. 


Do you want more fall hiking destinations? Visit Nelson for views of Nelson and Kootenay lakes at Pulpit Rock (1.6 kilometre, uphill) or explore the forested marvel of Kokanee Glacier Park. Stay in Rossland for access to stunning vistas such as the three-hour hike up Mount Roberts. If the snow has already covered the alpine by the time you venture into the Kootenays, be sure to put these hikes on your bucket list for spring — another perfect time of year for hiking in B.C.

For more hiking ideas visit hellobc.com/british-columbia/things-to-do/outdoor-activities/hiking.aspx.