There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a hike in the majestic Rocky Mountains. A visit to Kootenay National Park—with its crystal-clear rivers, spectacular glacier views, cascading waterfalls and natural hot springs—is the perfect place to remind yourself of that.
Intersected by Highway 93 and stretching from the border of Alberta to Radium Hot Springs in BC, Kootenay National Park provides a range of easy-to-access trails for all abilities. This park is remote—cell phone service is spotty at best. Pack extra food and camping supplies to prepare for a rugged Rocky Mountain adventure.
Length: 4.6 km roundtrip
Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 195 m
Do you love cascading water and lush green vistas? Then hike this trail that leads to Redstreak Creek and wanders through a lovely Douglas fir forest. Prepare to scramble over blowdown trees along the trail.
How do I get to the Redstreak trailhead? Take Highway 93 east from Radium Hot Springs for six kilometres.
Length: 5.4 km roundtrip
Time: 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 190 m
It’s always nice to have a reward at your destination, like the lovely lake at the end of this trail. Start with a descent and then ascend switchbacks through pine, spruce and Douglas fir trees before crossing Swede Creek and arriving at crystal-clear Cobb Lake. Time for a (chilly) dip?
How do I get to the Cobb Lake trailhead? The trail begins from the south side of Highway 93 South near the Kootenay Valley Viewpoint.
Bloggers who have lived the adventure: hikingwithbarry.com
Length: 5.2 km roundtrip
Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 40 m
Leaving from the McLeod Meadows picnic area, this busy trail is perfect for the whole family. To keep things interesting, there are two suspension bridges that cross the Kootenay River. Continue up the trail to glimpse views of marshlands, the lake and the nearby Mitchell Range. Keep your eyes open for wildlife sightings.
How do I get to the Dog Lake trailhead? Take Highway 93 north from Radium Hot Springs for 28 kilometres.
Length: 21 km roundtrip
Time: 7 hours
Elevation Gain: 715 m
Perfect for an overnighter, this popular hike through old forest fire terrain brings you above treeline to a stunning lake beneath a rock wall escarpment with glaciers. The climb to the lake will get your heart-rate going, but the Instagram-worthy vista is well-worth the challenge. Reserve your camping spot ahead of time.
How do I get to the Floe Lake trailhead? Take Highway 93 east from Radium Hot Springs for 73 kilometres to the Floe Lake parking lot.
Bloggers who have lived the adventure: hikingshenandoah.blogspot.com
Length: 8.4 km roundtrip
Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 365 m
There are few things as awe-inspiring as getting close to ancient compacted ice and snow—especially in summer. After you cross the Vermilion River you then switchback through an old forest fire area (the perfect place to see wildflowers) and pine forest before eventually arriving at the Stanley Glacier. Rest, eat lunch and marvel at the mountains while being entertained by the antics of the marmots and pikas in the boulder field.
How do I get to the Stanley Glacier trailhead? Take Highway 93 east from Radium Hot Springs for 91 kilometres to the Stanley Glacier parking lot.
Length: 9.6 km roundtrip
Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 335 m
On a hot day, this forested trail is a good place to stay cool. Follow the babbling creek before branching higher, where you will find awesome views of the Devil’s Tooth Range. Be equipped with bear spray, as they frequent the area.
How do I get to the Kimpton Creek trailhead? Take Highway 93 east from Radium Hot Springs for nine kilometres to the Kimpton Creek parking lot.
Length: 55 km roundtrip
Time: 3 - 4 days
Elevation Gain: 2,600 m
This iconic multi-day hike takes you past a towering limestone cliff, to Floe Lake and through gorgeous alpine meadows. The panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers will take your breath away. Be sure to reserve your campsites in advance—in the summer, reservations are mandatory.
How do I get to Rockwall trailhead? There are multiple trailheads. The closest to Radium Hot Springs is Floe Lake parking lot (72 kilometres east on Highway 93).
Bloggers who have lived the adventure: inafarawayland.com
Length: 2 km roundtrip
Time: 40 minutes
Elevation Gain: 25 m
This short, wide trail is an easy way to stretch your legs. A bridge over the crystal blue-green waters of Vermilion River travels through forest to a wetland meadow. You’ll soon discover why the trail is called Paint Pots when you spot the iron-rich ochre beds. Interpretive signs describe the history of the First Nations who used this colourful clay for ceremonial body paint and miners who dug the clay by hand in the early 1900s. Stick to the boardwalk, because the clay dye can stain your footwear.
How do I get to the Paint Pots trailhead? Take Highway 93. Travel north from Radium Hot Springs for 86 kilometres to the Paint Pots parking lot.
Length: 17.5 km loop
Time: 6 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,055 m
Despite being rated difficult, this trail is a local favourite. The forested loop takes you along avalanche slopes and rocky ridges up to lovely alpine meadows with great views of two surrounding valleys and Kindersley Mountain. Groups of at least four are recommended due to grizzly bear activity.
How do I get to the Kindersley/Sinclair Loop trailhead? Take Highway 93 east of Radium Hot Springs for 11 kilometres to Sinclair Creek Parking lot or drive 12 kilometres to Kindersley Pass parking lot.
Hawk Creek and Ball Pass
Length: 20.2 km roundtrip
Time: 7 hours
Elevation Gain: 885 m
Slide on your hiking boots and head off on this challenging day hike through a regenerating post-burn forest and up a rocky rugged pass to a lovely meadow at the top. This is the perfect place to eat lunch, where you can spot Shadow Lake and Egypt Lake in neighbouring Banff National Park.
How do I get to the Hawk Creek and Ball Pass trailhead? Take Highway 93 east from Radium Hot Springs for 72 kilometres to Floe Lake parking lot.
Have you explored these trails in Kootenay National Park?
Tell us about your favourite hike.
P.S. Do you crave more inspiration to adventure?
When you join explore magazine's Adventure Challenge Club, you'll get access to 100s of adventure-related challenges, Live videos with experts and $1000s of gear prizes.
What are you waiting for? Click here to sign up now.