Short Hikes 5-Day Tour

Exploring the valleys and vistas of the Kootenays

Hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy the wonders of the Kootenays, and sometimes just a short walk is all you need to get out into the fresh air and enjoy the different vistas and valleys the region has to offer. Here is a flight of quick hits that you can shorten depending on your energy for the day, or use as starting points for longer walks.

Day 1 - Radium to Fairmont Hot Springs

Peel yourself away from your cozy room at Bighorn Meadows Resort on the Springs Golf Course, and get ready for a morning mission on the Old Coach trail. Although their numbers are in sharp decline, Radium is still home to just over 100 Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep, so it makes sense to start your day at the Big Horn Cafe, where an unforgettable cinnamon bun and cappuccino is the perfect combo for a morning on the trail. 

The Old Coach Trail takes off right from Radium town at the end of Main Street West, and is a well-marked, multi-use trail that hugs the bank above the Columbia Wetlands. This visually stunning, wildlife-rich wetland is part of the longest remaining intact wetland complexes in interior North America. The trail is 10km one way, but you can decide when you need to head back to town for another cinnamon bun! 

Photo credit: Kootenay Rockies Tourism/ Mitch Winton

Day 2 - Fairmont Hot Springs

There is so much more to do around Fairmont than just soak your worries away, and a short hike to the nearby Hoodoos is a great way to feel like you earned some hotspring time. 

The Hoodoos are the vertical, fluted clay cliffs that tower over the valley where Highway 93/95 crosses Dutch Creek, and they have inspired story and imagination since time immemorial. These “ribs” are all that remain of Yawuʔnik̓, a sea monster from Ktunaxa legends who terrorized the supernatural world before Naⱡmuqȼin, the giant, and Yamakpaⱡ, pileated woodpecker finally helped end his reign of terror, scattering his bones across Ktunaxa Amaq’is. 

A short uphill hike from the trailhead 1km up West Side Road, the view from the Hoodoos soaks in this rich history.  Views of the Purcell and Rocky Mountains panorama that bookends the headwaters of the Columbia River at Columbia Lake are unforgettable. 

Wrap up your hike at the local fave Fairmont Pizza and Ice Cream, then swim to hot spring heaven with a stay at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, where guests get late-night access to the quiet hotel pool.

Photo credit: Fairmont Hot Springs Resort/ Rachel Dick

Day 3 - Fairmont to Kimberley

After a morning soak and breakfast at Antlers at the Lodge, grab a cuppa and some home-baked treats from the Resort’s Steamers Cafe and head South on Highway 93/95, to Kimberley. 

Grab some fresh seasonal local fruit, snacks and a famous Stoke juice to go from Stoke Market, and pack your daypack to explore the Kimberley Nature Park, one of the largest municipal parks in North America, with over 50 km of trails to keep you hiking or pedaling for days. For a short loop park at Kimberley’s Riverside Campground. 

Head up Jimmy Russel Road, hang a left onto Shapeshifter and left again on Hoodooview back to the trailhead. This loop includes everything from grasslands to open Ponderosa Pine forests and a spectacular view up the St. Marys Valley. 

Wrap up your day exploring Kimberley’s walking Platzl, and enjoy some famous Mucky Fries at the Pedal & Tap (think maple bacon, chipotle, and melted cheese….mmmmmm). Sample a local brew at the Grist & Mash Brewery before strolling home to a comfy bed at The Larix, a luxury boutique hotel in one of the original Cominco Company office buildings, right downtown.

Photo credit: Destination BC/ Kari Medig

Day 4 - Kimberley to Cranbrook

Ten minutes down Highway 95A you reach Marysville and the Marysville Eco-park. Park here for a 10-minute leg-stretcher stroll across one of Kimberley’s gorgeous timber-frame bridges and freshly-built boardwalk to the 30-meter Marysville Falls. The Eco-park celebrates the return of native cutthroat trout to the creek after a long watershed restoration project helped heal the damage from a century of upstream mining. 

Top up with a coffee and snack from the Timber Hitch Coffee Shop before heading east to rejoin Highway 3 at Eager Hills. Located about 2 kilometers from Cranbrook, on the route towards Radium Hot Springs, turn left immediately after the underpass onto an old service road. This area provides parking and access to the Eager Lookout trailhead. This is a moderately challenging two-hour hike that rewards hikers with elevated views of Fisher Peak and the Rocky Mountains. The Star Wars theme is evident here, with well-signed trail names like Ewok and Roll, Chewbacca Rocka, and R2DTour, but the view from Eager Lookout is definitely the galactic prize. The Southern Rockies, including iconic Fisher Peak and the Steeples backstopping the Rocky Mountain Trench are an unforgettable vista no matter what time of year. 

Head back to town for a craft beer sampler and some old-school bowling with your dinner at Encore Brewing, but save room for your dream dessert at Twisted Peaks Frozen Yogurt on Baker Street in downtown Cranbrook. Stay right downtown at the newly renovated historic 1923 Baker Hotel.

Photo credit: Cranbrook Tourism

Day 5 - Cranbrook to Fernie

An easy walk from the Baker Hotel, grab a coffee and lunch to go from Morchella Market for your final day of Kootenay short hikes. 

Head East on Highway #3 toward Fernie, but turn off through the town of Elko onto the River Road. Cross the Elk River and find the large trailhead parking pullout for the Silver Spring Lakes trail three kilometers down the road. The first lake is a short, 20-minute climb, with easy, flat walking another three kilometers to two more lakes. These crystal-clear, spring-fed lakes are nestled in between craggy cliffs, making this a popular, unique short hike. 

After your hike head back to Elko and Highway 3 East to Fernie to chill out at Happy Cow Ice Cream before your final mini-adventure: exploring some of the last old growth Cedar on the way to your final, luxurious night at Island Lake Lodge. 

The Old Growth Trail starts 4km up the Island Lake Lodge road, and heads out and back to experience the magic of ancient cedar forest. Some of these towering giant trees are estimated to be over 800 years old! Continue up the road to let the incredible staff at Island Lake Lodge take care of everything for the last night of your Kootenay short hike tour.

Photo credit: Kootenay Rockies Tourism/ Mitch Winton