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Kokanee Creek Loop

A pleasant loop of trails that weaves along the forests and beaches of Kokanee Creek Provincial Park! This is a great early-season hike at low elevation, or come back in late August to see the spawning kokanee.

Trailhead: Highway 3B
Distance, round trip: 4.8km
Elevation: +122m
Season: early April to mid-November
Difficulty:  Easy

Trailhead & Driving Directions

After crossing the Big Orange Bridge in Nelson, drive 17.8km east on Highway 3A and watch for the signed turn-off for Kokanee Creek Provincial Park.

This trail forms a big loop within the park, crossing both sides of the highway. There are many spots to get on the trail, but I recommend following the signs to begin at the Friends Campground and Day Use Area. For more information about the park, go to BC Parks – Kokanee Creek Provincial Park.

Trail Closures – sections of the trail along the Kokanee Creek spawning channel will be closed mid-August to mid-September. Bears are active in the area when the fish are spawning. Please respect all closures. There will be a viewing area near the Kokanee Creek Nature Centre to see the spawning channel.

Beach to Kokanee Creek

Leaving the Day Use area, head down to the beach and turn right (west). Kokanee Creek features a gorgeous beach with ongoing sandbars beneath the waves.

View of distant mountains along Kokanee Creek beach

There will be a few trails connecting Sandspit Beach back to the trail near the campgrounds. Watch for these trails and leave the beach to connect onto the Grassland Trail which edges the main Sandspit Campground.

The Spawning Channel

As you near Kokanee Creek, the trail will split into a series of junctions. Stay left to follow the bigger loop to the spawning channel (depending on trail closures). There will be a few places to look out over Kokanee Creek and spot wildlife. In early spring, this is a great place for bird watching!

The trail will bridge over the spawning channel and then go between the channel and Kokanee Creek, turning into boardwalk.

Kokanee salmon spawning in late August

Soon you’ll reach a junction in the boardwalk. Left goes to the pedestrian bridge over Kokanee Creek and will take you out to the group campground. Go right to cross the spawning channel again and watch for a trail in the woods on the other side, heading up the spawning channel.

View of Kokanee Creek from the bridge

Keeping following the trail as it leads uphill through the forest. Soon it will take you beneath the Highway 3A bridge.

Under the highway!

Canyon Trail

Now you’re on a scenic part of the loop that leads up along Kokanee Creek towards a small canyon. You’ll see junctions pointing to the “Woodland Loop” and “Pine Trail” which are forested side-loops. For an overview of this area, check the park map.

Rocks and roots along Kokanee Creek

The trail winds through the woods and the footing gets a bit rockier. Watch as it climbs a steep section for the turn-off on the left to the Canyon Lookout.

Kokanee Creek Canyon in the spring

In the heat of summer, this is always a pleasant shaded trail with the cool creek running alongside.

Historic Busk Estate

Retrace a few steps back from the Canyon Lookout to get onto a trail that crosses the gravel of Kokanee Glacier Road. On the other side of the road, the trail heads straight through the forest. Continue along and watch out for mountain bikes – they have a network of bike trails on this side of the road and may come ripping down the woods.

After 3.4km from leaving the car, look for a faint junction in the trail. The main trail heads left but a faint path to the right leads to a clearing. You can following this path to venture through the historic Busk estate.  Charles W. Busk came to Nelson in the late 1800’s long before the park was established. He built a large mansion in woods, the foundations of which you can hike through today. In addition to old stone walls and fruit trees, you can find a swimming pool hidden in the woods.

Old swimming pool in the woods

Whether you head down the main trail or explore the Busk estate, aim downhill to where Kokanee Glacier Road meets Highway 3A. Carefully cross the highway on foot and pick up a trail bordered by maple trees on the other side. This trail will lead back towards Kootenay Lake, where you can either follow the beach or the road to complete the loop!

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