Driving up to Kokanee Glacier Park trailhead area has something for everyone. The circle hike around Gibson Lake at the parking area is flat and suitable for the elderly or disabled, yet delivers great views and a pristine lake walk. This is a great family hike, suitable for children and the more elderly hiker. Experienced hikers use this area to access 5 km and 10 km hikes into the surrounding alpine and glaciers.
You'll think you were the only ones driving up this wild road, yet when you get to the top you'll see all sorts of vehicles, and with protective 'porcupine' mesh around vehicles to stop porcupines from eating at your car brake lines. Indeed, most vehicles can make it up the 16 km gravel road up into Kokanee Glacier Provincial park, yet as you drive, you'll be amazed at the raw power of nearby Kokanee Creek. No matter how hot it is (it was 37c in Nelson during Streetfest) roll down your vehicle windows and listen to the roar of the creek as it hurtles down the mountain. It would help to have a 4x4, or at the very least a car with a low gear to crawl at times, but we saw all types up top, even a dodge caravan carrying a family of 5. As you drive, you'll pass through groves of old growth, with trails that are well marked, should you wish to stop and hike into them.
The short circle hike around the lake up top is spectacular for those new to the Alpine, or unable to climb, you'll cross several rushing streams and photo ops, alpine flowers, and great views of surrounding mountains and the lake environment itself--more pure and deserving than the namesake beer. The trail around the lake is suitable even for a wheelchair; it's been well maintained, other than for the bridge at the creek's source.
Several trails of 5 km and 10 km, as well as the flat Circle Lake trail we took, leave from the parking area. You can reach Kokanee Lake and Kaslo Lake. Take your gear up for an overnighter, and once you get out of the lake area and up into the surrounding alpine, you'll have glacier views and as tough a hike as you want.
My sister and I visited with our parents, so we simply had a picnic in the shade, then my sister and I hiked 50 min around the lake and enjoyed the Indian paintbrush, daisies, and other alpine flowers. The wild drive and the flat hike together make for an outing anyone can enjoy. More experienced hikers will want to plan on an overnighter into the adjacent alpine. The trails are well marked, and there is a park office on the highway below (and camping) nearby to seek out additional information should you be venturing further.
From Nelson, cross the bridge over the West arm of Kootenay Lake and head back to the Ferry crossing to Crawford bay. On the way, look for signs to Kokanee Glacier Park, and turn left immediately at the Kokanee Forest Road and ascend on the gravel road. It's in good shape, with lots of areas to pull over to let an approaching car pass by, and other than a few steep sections, it's gravy. The ride up crosses a few old growth areas of interest, and the lake destination is worthwhile for beginner and advanced hikers. Nelson itself has much to offer as the cultural capital of the Kootenays. Make sure you eat at Mazatlans, run by Mexican ex-pats--best Mexican food I've had in Canada! While there, chat up the locals for other hike options, like the opposite Mt. Crawford and nearby 'secret' hot springs up-top known only to locals!
(a) Click Wiki Edit This Page to get placed in edit mode
(b) When finished, your update is available to view as draft (click wiki update pending in trail to see draft)
* note: editors are notified and must approve the change
Posted By: DMP
- Thu Dec 22 20:05:47 UTC 2011
CommentGorgeous Hike The Whole Time. It's Difficult To Point Your Camera Any Direction And NOT Get An Amazing Shot. Check Out Our Hike: http://youtu.be/Ol2uOi06vcI
Posted By: MelM
- Fri Aug 15 14:52:15 UTC 2008
Upsidebeautiful park with well maintained trails DownsideRoad was not so great for low clearance vehicles CommentGibson lake trail is very nice, but if you are not an elderly or disabled hiker it leaves something to be desired. My boyfirend and I came back to hike farther into the park. We did a hike leaving the trail head at 6 pm hiking to the historic Slocan cheif cabin for a beautiful sunset view of the park. The Cheif is worht visiting, you can no longer sleep there but if you are into alpine history it is a very worthwhile stop. We put on our headlamps half-way through our return to the car and arrived bcak at the trail head just after 11pm. Beautiful views, also saw a fair bit of wildlife, worth every step!
Posted By: Mike Burnett
- Sat Jun 28 18:04:12 UTC 2008
UpsideAbsolutely gorgeous views DownsideThere is still up to 1.5m of snow on the higher trails, and the traverse along Kokanee lake (to Kalso Lake) is essentially non-existant while there is still this much snow. CommentMy dad and I hiked up to Kokanee Lake, and were expecting snow, but not as much as was still there!!! The views are breathtaking, but the snow makes things difficult if you are unprepared; a good pair of snow boots, and an ice axe will make things easier, especially if you plan to travel around Kokanee lake. The trail (along Kokanee lake) is unpractical. It's covered with snow which essentially makes it the same pitch as the hill (40+ degrees) and is very slippery and slushy with the melt/freeze throughout the day. We traveled along the lakeshore where it was still snow covered, but not as steep, and far less dangerous. However, it was all worth it as the views are just phenomenal!
Posted By: Rufff
- Tue Aug 21 03:32:16 UTC 2007
UpsideThe 7 of us found the 16km drive, in our Dodge Caravan, an adventure. What a beautiful park. Spectacular! Went up to Kokanee Lake, lots of great views and imposing peaks. DownsideOur four year old granddaughter quit walking 1 km before returning to trailhead. What a trooper. CommentMy Wife and I willl be back and do this wonderful park properly. So many sights to see. I posted some photos.
Posted By: toad
- Sat Oct 04 21:38:40 UTC 2003
UpsideI spent 5 days in the Park with my wife last week (Sept. 26-30th, 03. We hiked over 50 km over that period, Saphire Lakes, Glory Basin, and we summited the Battleship ('8563) DownsideNone....beautiful Park CommentSubtle beauty, great ACC "hut/hotel" at the end of Kaslo Lake.
Posted By: freeridebryce
- Thu Jul 24 16:53:25 UTC 2003
UpsideRelatively easy access, near other trails DownsideA long 16km drive for a very short trail CommentThe trail around Gibson lake is not worth the 16km road in. However, this is also the trailhead for the Kokanee lake trail which goes farther into the park and provides access to Kokanee glacier with some route-finding. As is usually the case, the more effort you put into a hike the more rewards you reap in terms of solitude and beauty. If you're looking for a quick and easy trail, try the Old Growth trail about halfway to up the road.