Best Hiking Viewpoints over Nelson, BC

Nelson is surrounded by forested mountains with hidden viewpoints. It’s a hikers paradise – if you know where to go! Here are some of the best viewpoint trails that will let you gaze out over our mountain town.

1. The ‘Classic’ – Pulpit Rock

It usually feels like half the town is out hiking Pulpit Rock. On a sunny weekend day, the parking lot overflows with cars and the trail is bustling with hikers, trail runners, and the world’s happiest dogs. It’s a classic hike for locals and tourists and easily the most popular trail in town. Reach Pulpit Rock after about 30-60 minutes of switchbacks and be prepared to sweat!

2. The ‘Let’s go Higher’ – Flagpole Trail

An extension of the Pulpit Rock trail, you can continue hiking higher up to the Flagpole for an even bigger view of town. The Flagpole Trail is extremely scenic with views of the Kootenay River valley to the West – always worth it when you have the time and energy!

3. The Top of Elephant Mountain – CBC Tower

If you have 6-8 hours to spare, you can hike all the way up Elephant Mountain to reach the CBC Tower. The trail starts at the Pulpit Rock trailhead and gains a mighty +1120m of elevation. From the CBC Tower, follow a faint trail down to the square reflector panel to look down directly over the Big Orange Bridge and town.

4. From the West – Bedframe Trail Lookout

Morning Mountain is a wonderful trail network. Hike down from the top of the Bedframe Trail and you’ll be treated to a spectacular view of town. It’s the perfect spot for lunch if you’re hiking up from the bottom!

Bedframe Trail viewpoint on the Morning Mountain network

If you have out-of-town visitors who aren’t strong hikers, you can also drive up Giveout Creek FSR to come to the top of the Bedframe Trail with a very short walk down to this viewpoint. And driving a little higher up Giveout Creek FSR leads to this:

View of Nelson from Giveout Creek FSR

5. From the East – Svoboda Road Lookout

The old clearcut at the end of the Svoboda Road trail network contains a scenic bench that looks towards Nelson from the east. Most of the town is hidden at this angle, but you’ll get a good look at the Big Orange Bridge and the North Shore neighbourhood.

6. From around the corner – Smallwood/Bigwood Bench

After hiking up to the bench on the Smallwood/Bigwood trails, you’ll be treated to a panorama of the Kootenay River and Bonnington Range peaks. It’s easy to get distracted by the big landmarks, but what’s that far away on the left and around the corner? It’s Nelson!

Nelson from the Smallwood scenic bench

7. From the top – Toad Mountain Summit

You can hike to the summit of Toad Mountain from either the old Silverking Mine or from the newer Giveout Creek Road. Either trail will lead along a ridge to Toad’s summit. This is the highest viewpoint of Nelson that’s accessible to hikers. You’ll get a good view of the Kokanee Range towering high above Kootenay Lake as well as the distant town.

Zooming in on Nelson from the summit of Toad
Panorama from Toad Mountain, Nelson far below

Enjoying the trails around Nelson? Consider making a donation or becoming a member to the Nelson Cycling Club and Friends of Pulpit Rock Society.

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