There are many opportunities for hiking on the East Shore. The East Shore Trail and Bike Association has an extensive downloadable hiking and mountain biking trail map that will get you up into the mountains where you will get a real taste of Kootenay wilderness.
Below are some hikes suitable for families and accessible by any vehicle. The other source of more difficult hikes outlined in detail is “Where Locals Hike in the West Kootenay” available at local stores including the Gray Creek Store.
The Waterfront Trail in Riondel
(½ to 1½ hours return)
This pleasant 1.5 km. trail follows the shoreline beginning at the west end of Riondel’s North Bay Beach Campground over a rocky headland and past several small beaches to the original mine concentrator site on Bluebell Bay. About midway the trail connects with old roads that lead back to town on a shorter route, coming out near the fire hall. Continuing along the shore path takes hikers past old stone foundations that date back to the original Bluebell mining encampment of the 1880’s. When you come to the rust-stained site of the former concentrator building, turn left uphill onto a dirt road which leads back to the south end of the Riondel town site.
Peninsula Shoreline Trail
(from 1½ to 2 hours return, to all day)
Near Kootenay Bay. This popular trail offers land access to Pilot Bay Marine Park, with campsites, picnic tables, fire pits and toilets. Drive south on Pilot Bay Road from the Kootenay Bay Ferry Landing. At 3 km., watch for the small Pilot Bay Park sign; turn left and park. The trail climbs in the first ten minutes by granite cliffs and huge scented pines, then descends through cool forests. Take the fork to the right about five minutes past the second wooden bridge to reach the campsite. Keep left to find a pebbled beach with a huge view south down the lake, and the Lake shore Trail, if you wish to continue towards the end of the peninsula (a full day’s hike).
Pilot Bay Lighthouse Trail
(½ to 1 hour return)
Near Kootenay Bay. This short trail leads to an historic lighthouse, built in 1907. To get there, turn south on Pilot Bay Road from the Kootenay Bay ferry landing. At 4.5 km. there’s a small blue and white trail sign on the right, just before the road ends. It’s an short but somewhat steep 10-15 minute walk on a broad, well-maintained trail that meanders through a cool, mossy forest, leading to expansive views of the lake from the lighthouse. There is also a picnic table and outhouse for your convenience. You can also explore further south along the rocky peninsula. There are no fires allowed here and no water or other amenities. Maintained by Friends of West Kootenay Parks.
Duck Lake Dykes Trails
(½ hour stroll to all-day hike)
Duck Lake is located near Sirdar. The dykes of the Creston Valley Wildlife Area at the south end of Kootenay Lake offer miles of almost level hiking or biking through some of the finest bird habitat in B.C. The northern access point to this trail is about 3 km. south of the south end of Kootenay Lake, where Duck Lake first comes into view. There is a parking space off the highway there. Walk across the railway tracks to the dyke that divides Duck Lake from a branch of the Kootenay River. About 1 km. along this Dyke you can view a Great Blue Heron rookery on the other side of the river. The south end of the trail, and connections with more dyke trails, can be reached via Lower Wynndel Road, nearer to Creston. Hiking trail maps are available at the Creston Valley Wildlife Area Interpretation Center near Creston, which is worth an afternoon in itself.
Pebble Beach Trail
(2 to 3 hours return)
This moderately steep trail is located about 7 km. north of Riondel on the Kootenay Lake East Forest Service Road. Watch carefully for the trail sign on your left. It leads to a pebbled beach which offers fine picnicking, fishing, swimming and, at low water, opportunities to hike and beach comb further along the lake shore. Remember, it is a steep climb back to the road.
Pilot Peninsula Trails
Pilot Peninsula has a fine network of hiking trails that have been developed and maintained by local hiking enthusiasts.
Access up Sanca Creek Forest Service Road. Ask locals in the Boswell/Sanca area for information.
Lockhart Creek Trail
(day trip or up to 2 days return to Baker Lake)
Lockhart Creek is located near Boswell. This trail departs from Highway 3A on the north side of the creek at Lockhart Provincial Park. It follows the creek, climbing through a magnificent grove of old growth forest and on 15 km. through a wilderness valley up to the ridge line at 7000′ before dropping down to Baker Lake on the eastern slope of the Purcells. The lower 7 km. of the trail is well maintained, though some windfall may be encountered. Baker Lake offers good fishing but mosquitoes can be ferocious there! Non-hikers can also have a great time, spending the day at the Provincial Park on the highway. It offers forested campsites, picnic tables, toilets, a sandy beach, and fishing at the creek mouth.
Plaid Lake Trail & Mount Crawford
(Near the summit of Crawford Mountain – 4 hours to all day, return)
Plaid Lake is located near Crawford Bay. To reach this Ministry of Forests trail you’ll need a high ground clearance vehicle, preferably a 4×4. In Crawford Bay, turn off Hwy 3A at the School onto Wadds Road and keep left, proceeding past the refuse site and up the gravel Forest Service Road. Keep left at the first major junction at about 8 km. and then left again on to Spring Creek Road. From here the road climbs steeply for about five km. to the trail-head parking area. Stay on the most used road and follow the Plaid Lake Trail signs. It’s about a 4.5 km. hike to Plaid Lake. The trail climbs along a razorback ridge and presents spectacular views of Crawford Bay and Kootenay Lake. From the ridge summit you can scramble up to the top of Mount Crawford, from where Golden Eagles can often be spotted. The trail dips down from the ridge into a lovely alpine meadow and then on to Plaid Lake, which teems with small and hungry Eastern Brook Trout. Snow stays late and comes early to Plaid Lake, so enquire locally about conditions before starting out.
Please carefully pack out anything that you bring with you.