When you think of British Columbia, you think of nature: commanding mountain ranges, clear alpine lakes, lush forests, and oceans teeming with life. One of the best ways to immerse yourself in all that natural beauty is by lacing up your hiking boots, grabbing your backpack, and hitting one of BC’s ubiquitous trails. Don’t know where to begin? Try one of these popular, gentle hikes in BC’s national parks.
Glacier National Park
Hikers visiting Glacier National Park can choose from an extensive network of trails that access exceptional alpine scenery—including alpine tundra and subalpine meadows—and deep valleys filled with ancient forests of cedar and hemlock. The park is also home to Rogers Pass, elevation 1,330 m (4,364 ft), the route through the imposing Selkirk Mountains that was the final link in the railway that brought Canada together as a nation.
Loop Brook Trail is part of the Rogers Pass National Historic Site at the heart of Glacier National Park. The site protects the ruins of the old Canadian Pacific Railway line, and the trail highlights stone pillars that once carried the railway track across the valley. These pillars are among the oldest surviving man-made structures in western Canada.
Average Time: 30 – 45 minutes
Distance: 1.6 km (1 mi) round trip
Fitness Level: This is an easy-to-moderate trail with some short steep sections
Trailhead: Start at the viewpoint just east of the Loop Brook Campground, 5 km (3 mi) west of Rogers Pass
While you’re here: Visit the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre, a replica of a railway snowshed that houses a small, interesting museum
Yoho National Park
Yoho National Park, named for a Cree expression of awe and wonder, houses many treasures. The park, which lies on the western slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, is home to Takakkaw Falls, one of Canada’s highest waterfalls; to the 505-million-year-old Burgess Shale fossil deposit; and to a natural stone bridge carved by the force of the Kicking Horse River.
Hiking options include easy walks, multi-day excursions, and everything in between. Wapta Falls Trail provides excellent bang for your buck as you follow the forested trail to the base of a powerful 30-m (98-ft) waterfall, the largest waterfall on the Kicking Horse River. As there is a marsh nearby, keep an eye out for waterbirds, beavers, and wolf tracks.
Average Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Distance: 4.6 km (2.9 mi) round trip
Fitness Level: This is a fairly easy trail
Trailhead: Wapta Falls parking area is 32 km (20 mi) east of Golden on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway. Note: The trailhead is not marked for westbound traffic as there is no left turn lane here
While you’re here: If you have time, rent a canoe and paddle on aptly named Emerald Lake, surrounded by mountains and glaciers
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