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Fry Creek Canyon

The Fry Creek Canyon Trail has suffered from recent mudslides and wildfires, significantly shortening the route with the canyon trail closed. But it’s still a worthwhile destination if you’re already visiting the north end of Kootenay Lake!

Summary
Trailhead: Houston Road, Johnson’s Landing
Distance, round trip: 10.9km
Elevation: +370m
Season: mid-April to early November
Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead & Driving Directions

From Kalso, drive 34.1km north on Highway 31, then turn right onto Duncan Lake Road, following signs for the Fry Creek Trail. After crossing the bridge, take a right onto Argenta Johnsons Landing Road and drive along for 16.5km, following signs for Johnsons Landing and the Fry Creek Trail. The road is narrow and windy in many places, but it’s drivable for all vehicles. Reach the signed Fry Creek Trailhead just after the road turns into Houston Road.

Trailhead on Houston Road

The trailhead warns that recent mudslides and erosion have made the canyon trail impassable at high-water.

Safety
Exposure – there is exposure along the canyon with steep drops and narrow footing.

Hiking through the forest

The trail takes off through the forest and crosses Kootenay Joe Creek shortly after. It’s a 3km walk to the canyon with a few short, steep sections.

Soon you’ll be side-hilling through an open forest with an old cutblock below – offering views of Kootenay Lake through the trees! Looking ahead, you’ll spot the massive gravel deposits at the mouth of Fry Creek.

Looking down at the mouth of Fry Creek

You’ll hear Fry Creek from a distance – in the spring, the canyon is absolutely thunderous with meltwater.

The Bridge

The trail descends and reaches a series of junctions. Stay left to head down to Fry Creek bridge.

Looking out over Fry Creek Bridge

The bridge offers one of the best views of the canyon. Look upstream to see churning green water cascading in a series of rapids and waterfalls. Downstream the creek turns a corner and disappears before it reaches Kootenay lake.

View upstream from the bridge
View downstream from the bridge

On the other side of the bridge, the trail continues through the forest to the small community of Birchdale. Retrace your steps to follow the trail higher up the canyon.

Up the Canyon

Trail Closure

The canyon portion of the trail was closed by BC Parks in 2022 due to wildfire and slide damage.

The trail edges along the bottom of the canyon, with some exposed sections above the creek. It’s a breathtaking route during freshet and the roaring water drowns out all sound.

Unfortunately, you’ll reach the first washout just 1km up from the bridge, cutting off access in the spring. Head back down the trail to reach the junction with the Lakeside Trail. This is a great option to extend your hike and explore the delta beneath Fry Creek.

Heading down the Lakeside Trail

Lakeside Trail

The Lakeside Trail descends smoothly through the forest until it comes out on the beach. You’re now on private land owned by the Northwest Wilderness Society of the Unitarian Church, but you can respectfully explore the beach, leaving no trace.

Hiking along the beach

It’s worthwhile to turn left (south) and walk along the beach to visit the mouth of Fry Creek. There are massive gravel deposits along the delta with multiple old stream beds as the creek has switched course over time. From the delta, look back up Fry Creek Canyon to see the spiky peaks of Mt Tyrell.

Looking back up Fry Creek Canyon

Head back up the trail to retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Heading home, crossing Kootenay Joe Creek
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Elizabeth King
Elizabeth King
2 years ago

We went out last weekend on a very warm sunny day. It’s actually quite a dry trail, bring more water than you think you’d need. We’re looking forward to coming back in the fall and actually following up the canyon. We stopped at the washout, enjoyed the sun and sound of water rushing, had a snack and headed home. Awesome trail!

Trip Date
2021-05-16
Trail Conditions
Great
Access Road Conditions
Great
Access Road Vehicle
4WD High Clearance
Andre van Berlo
8 months ago

We were there last weekend and it seems the canyon trail is now permanently closed. They dismantled the cable car. Apparently the wildfire did a lot of damage and caused instabilities.

Trail Conditions
Closed Permanently
NWWS
NWWS
5 months ago

The route up Fry Canyon is closed. Due to the 2022 Wildfire, which burnt the cribbings along the trail near the canyon, BC Parks closed the trail, and removed the Carney Creek cable car.
Also a note on the Northwest Wilderness Society of the Unitarian Church, who owns 164 acres just below the bridge and around the entire delta. It is private property which the society allows access through, but staying on the property is subject to society approval.

NWWS
NWWS
2 days ago
Reply to  Abby Wilson

Thank you, Abby. Can you please change the wording in the original post to say Northwest Wilderness Society of the Unitarian Church, as that is our name? And please remove wording about fees and camping as it gives people the impression that camping is open to the public. Thank you