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Review: Where Locals Hike in the West Kootenay

Yes, locals refer to this as “the guidebook”. With over 50 hikes of premier trails – including day hikes, backpacking trips, and off-season treks- this book is a great resource for locals and tourists alike.

Title: Where Locals Hike in the West Kootenay – the Premier Trails in Southeast BC near Kaslo and Nelson

Published: 2012 (3rd edition)

Authors: Kathy and Craig Copeland




Seeking wilderness, authors Kathy and Craig Copeland moved to a remote area of the Kootenay Lake and spent the next five years trekking across the West Kootenay landscape. They soon discovered that there was one thing missing: a local guidebook. And so they set out to write one.

55 hikes, across the West Kootenay

Kathy and Craig are quick to point out that no, not every single hike is listed in Where Locals Hike. Only the best. And the best are amazing.

The guidebook contains 55 trips, ranging in area from Christina Lake in the Monashee Mountains to Monica Meadows in the Purcells, even dipping down into the Selkirk Mountains in northern Idaho. There is also helpful information about wilderness ethics, bear safety, and placating the Kootenay weather gods.

Each trip contains a summary of facts (location, distance, elevation) and detailed ‘by vehicle’ and ‘on foot’ directions to navigate you to the trailhead and beyond. Then there is the important ‘Opinion’ section where the authors inform you about what to expect and how to get the most out of your hike.

High Points

When it really comes down to it, don’t you want a guidebook that is as entertaining as it is informative?

The content is excellent – great hikes, great info, great photos. But really, it is the exceptional commentary that makes this book such a gem. The book tells it like it is, with a wicked sense of humour and a touch of sarcasm.

Don’t believe me? Here are some excerpts:

“Love it or hate it, everyone who drives to Meadow Mtn thinks, ‘This is one hell of a road.'” ~from Meadow Mountain, Trip 19, p.135

“You find gymnastic challenge to be its own reward? Scrambling exhilarates you even more than a culminating panorama? You measure happiness with an altimeter? The Keyhole will make you very happy, very quickly.” ~from the Keyhole, Trip 26, p.165

“Bilbo Baggins, the Cat in the Hat, Santa Clause. It seems any of them might come sauntering across this folkloric bridge.” ~from Kaslo River, Trip 46, p.252

Low Points

Maps! Okay, yes, the maps in the book are intended for orientation only. Maybe it is unfair to pick on them, but I can’t help it – I’m a map geek and a visual person! The maps in Where Locals Hike are simplistic and largely symbolic. There is no topography and very few landmarks are indicated. My ultimate guidebook would have detailed maps accompanying the detailed directions, like we see with the Bruce Trail in Ontario.

And of course, the problem with guidebooks in general is they get out of date. Where Locals Hike in the West Kootenay is already in its 3rd edition (2012) and things change. Already, the Kaslo River Trail proudly boasts another beet-red bridge. Fingers crossed that new editions are published!


Where Locals Hike in the West Kootenay truly is the guidebook, and I highly recommend it. It truly has something for everyone: locals, seasonal visitors, families with kids, off-season hikers, beginner adventurers, hardened off-trail scramblers. Yep, if you’re going to be doing any kind of hiking in the area, this is the book for you!

Where to Buy?





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[…] And yet, despite the signed junctions, we focused too literally on the written instructions in Where Locals Hike and got completely turned around. Don’t do that. Follow the […]


[…] We’re starting at the East Trailhead here! If you’re hiking West to East, read from the bottom up or check out the information in Where Locals Hike in the West Kootenay. […]