Pilot Penisula is an easy shoreline hike long the blue vista of Kootenay Lake. With access to multiple beaches of smooth pebbles and clear water, Pilot Peninsula is a a great choice! It’s also one of the first snow-free trails early in the spring.
Trailhead & Driving Directions
As soon as you exit the Kootenay Lake Ferry on the East Shore, turn right onto Pilot Bay Road. Drive about 10 minutes down the road and watch for the signed turnoff to the parking lot on the left.
To Sawmill Cove
The trail is a pleasant forest walk, keeping with sight of the lake. There are a few up-and-downs, but these are spaced out enough that it is a pretty easy hike.
At 1.8km the trail branches off down to the Sawmill Cove wilderness campground and not far beyond the junction is the first pebble beach. Sawmill Cove is an excellent backcountry camping destination for new backpackers. If you’re staying overnight, make sure you get a permit from BC Parks.
At 3.5km, you’ll reach Boomer’s Landing, the second pebble beach. Boomer’s Landing is a good break spot with a nice view south on Kootenay Lake.
The Scenic Beach
Just past Boomer’s Landing, you leave park boundaries but the trail carries on. In this last stretch, the trail is slightly more challenging, a little narrower, a little more elevation gained and lost. There are a few stretches with steep drops off to the side – hike carefully!
We usually stop at the beach at 6.4km from the trailhead. Look for a faint junction with a path heading off to the right – it will quickly lead to a worn set of stairs that lead to the shore.
This beach is a wonderful lunch spot on a sunny day. You can watch fish swirl and skip stones and venture into the cold water if you dare. The beach pebbles are smooth and round and glittery. The view is stunning.
It takes about 2.5 hours to reach the final beach.
You can also continue hiking another 1km to further beach where the old Tipi Camp was.
Bonus: Pilot Bay Lighthouse
Once you’re back at the trailhead, drive up Pilot Bay Road to see the historical lighthouse that overlooks the lake. This is a worthwhile detour if you have time before the next ferry departure.
The lighthouse is charming and – most importantly – it isn’t all boarded up! It is open to explore! You can unlatch the door and climb your way up two sets of ladder-stairs to the lookout at the top.