Best Early Season Hikes in the Columbia Valley

March 26, 2021

The temperature is warming up, the trails are thawing, and the prairie crocuses are pushing through the dirt. That can only mean one thing: hiking season has arrived!

While the peaks aren’t ready yet—and other trails are still icy and muddy—there are beautiful, low elevation hikes you can do now.

Kootenay National Park
Simpson River
This low elevation trail immerses you in the mountains with stunning views of burnt forest, the Kootenay and Simpson Rivers, and the Kootenay River Valley. It eventually connects to Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. (This trail can be wet, so be sure to check trail conditions before you go.)

Trailhead: parking lot is 57km east of Radium Hot Springs on Highway 93.

Juniper – Sinclair Canyon

A favourite any season of the year, this trail offers it all—waterfall, creek, forest, valley views, and wildlife. With 260m of elevation, it’s good preparation for summer hikes.

Trailheads: one at the north Radium Hot Springs pool parking lot and one just inside the Park’s west gate.

Old Coach

Photo Credit: Kris McCauley

From the bluffs overlooking the Columba Valley Wetlands, watch bald eagles circling overhead while taking in the views of the Purcell Mountains. The Old Coach Trail is a historic route originally used by stagecoaches and then Model Ts in the 1920s.

Trailheads: in Radium Hot Springs at the southern end of Main Street West and five kilometres south of Radium in Dry Gulch.

Mount Swansea

Well known for its downhill biking trails, Mt. Swansea makes for a great hike with an uphill grind. Stay left at the fork in the trail (North Ridge) and head to the tower lookout with views of Windermere Lake, Invermere, and the Purcell Mountains. Keep hiking the uptrack towards the summit. (Snow generally hangs around up there for another month.) With a bit of luck, you’ll even see paragliders!

Trailhead: turn onto Windermere Loop Road 6km south of Invermere. Turn on Swansea Mountain Forest Service Road, and parking area is 200m from there.

Hoodoo Trail

Photo Credit:

Hike to the top of the beautifully-sculpted hoodoos offering views of the Fairmont Range and Columbia Lake.

Trailhead: parking area just south of Fairmont Hot Springs off Westside Road.

Enjoy the mild temperatures, clear and sunny days, and trails with a bit of elevation to get your legs ready for summer hiking!  Stop by the Visitor Centre for up-to-date information on trail conditions.

*Spring is prime tick season, so be aware when hiking especially near tall grasses.

Be sure to share your adventures with us on social media! Tag us with @TravelColumbiaValley or #TravelCV.

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