Do you think the destination is more important than the journey? The Smallwood and Bigwood trails near Beasley are a slog in the woods with an outstanding climatic view! From the top, you can look up and down the Kootenay River Valley to see Nelson and South Slocan. And looking across, you’ll see several prominent mountain peaks in the Bonnington Range.
Trailhead: Smallwood Creek FSR
Distance, round trip: 5km
After a 10 minute drive from Nelson, we turned onto Beasley Road and followed the Smallwood Creek FSR up about 4km. The trail head sign is small with only a few parking spaces.
While it is possible to hike a bigger loop, the main trails to the lookout are Smallwood (difficult) and Bigwood (moderate).
**Be sure to take a photo of the trailhead map before setting off. The trails are not well-marked and there are several junctions.
Up Smallwood, More or Less
We didn’t have a solid hiking plan, so we ambled up the road, passed by the start of the Smallwood trail, and began hiking on Bigwood. Then we pulled out the GPS and figured out what we wanted to do.
We ended up doubling back along Bigwood parallel to the road until we connected again with the Smallwood trail. While this was largely a waste of time, we did see a very cool skull on a stick.
Once we got onto the Smallwood trail, it was a hard, heavy stomp up the slope. It took us over an hour to reach the top and we were fumbling through the dark spruce forest the entire time. The elevation gain on Smallwood is intense: 500m over about 1km. Ouch. Ahh. It was hot, muggy, hard, buggy. We questioned if it would be worth it. Don’t worry, it was.
We made it to the top! The view of the Kootenay River Valley was amazing! Looking across we could see (from left to right) the peaks of Toad Mountain, Red Mountain, Copper Mountain, and Siwash Mountain.
Back down Bigwood
After the intense scramble up, we opted to take the moderate Bigwood Trail back down to be easy on the knees. A wise choice – Bigwood has gentler switchbacks and is a much more reasonable elevation change.
We were 3 hours out on the trail, with our sloppy start and extra hiking. I hear strong hikers can be up to the scenic bench in under 45 minutes – good luck to ya!