The Fry Creek Canyon Trail has suffered from recent mudslides along the canyon wall, significantly shortening the route during spring run-off. But it’s still a worthwhile destination if you’re already visiting the north end of Kootenay Lake!
Distance, round trip: 10.9km
Season: mid-April to early November
Trailhead & Driving Directions
From Kalso, drive 34.1km north on Highway 31, then turn right onto Duncan Lake Road, following signs for the Fry Creek Trail. After crossing the bridge, take a right onto Argenta Johnsons Landing Road and drive along for 16.5km, following signs for Johnsons Landing and the Fry Creek Trail. The road is narrow and windy in many places, but it’s drivable for all vehicles. Reach the signed Fry Creek Trailhead just after the road turns into Houston Road.
The trailhead warns that recent mudslides and erosion have made the canyon trail impassable at high-water.
Hiking through the forest
The trail takes off through the forest and crosses Kootenay Joe Creek shortly after. It’s a 3km walk to the canyon with a few short, steep sections.
Soon you’ll be side-hilling through an open forest with an old cutblock below – offering views of Kootenay Lake through the trees! Looking ahead, you’ll spot the massive gravel deposits at the mouth of Fry Creek.
You’ll hear Fry Creek from a distance – in the spring, the canyon is absolutely thunderous with meltwater.
The trail descends and reaches a series of junctions. Stay left to head down to Fry Creek bridge.
The bridge offers one of the best views of the canyon. Look upstream to see churning green water cascading in a series of rapids and waterfalls. Downstream the creek turns a corner and disappears before it reaches Kootenay lake.
On the other side of the bridge, the trail continues through the forest to the small community of Birchdale. Retrace your steps to follow the trail higher up the canyon.
Up the Canyon
The trail edges along the bottom of the canyon, with some exposed sections above the creek. It’s a breathtaking route during freshet and the roaring water drowns out all sound.
Unfortunately, you’ll reach the first washout just 1km up from the bridge, cutting off access in the spring. Head back down the trail to reach the junction with the Lakeside Trail. This is a great option to extend your hike and explore the delta beneath Fry Creek.
The Lakeside Trail descends smoothly through the forest until it comes out on the beach. You’re now on private land, but you can explore and camp on the beach. Check out the Northwest Wilderness Society Camp’s site for info about fees and camping.
It’s worthwhile to turn left (south) and walk along the beach to visit the mouth of Fry Creek. There are massive gravel deposits along the delta with multiple old stream beds as the creek has switched course over time. From the delta, look back up Fry Creek Canyon to see the spiky peaks of Mt Tyrell.
Head back up the trail to retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
We went out last weekend on a very warm sunny day. It’s actually quite a dry trail, bring more water than you think you’d need. We’re looking forward to coming back in the fall and actually following up the canyon. We stopped at the washout, enjoyed the sun and sound of water rushing, had a snack and headed home. Awesome trail!