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Raccoon-Badger Trail

If you think hiking on the Great Northern Rail Trail is a bit boring, then you’ll want to head up into the woods. The Raccoon and Badger Trails offer a welcoming experience for new hikers and trail runners- smooth, flowing trails just above town. Be cautious of descending mountain bikes and move off the trail to give them space.

Summary
Trailhead: Cherry Street or Gore Street
Distance, round trip: 5km
Elevation: +190m
Season: mid-April to late-November
Difficulty:  Easy

Trailhead & Driving Directions

You need to make your way through the Uphill neighbourhood in Nelson to park at the Mountain Station trailhead on the Great Northern Rail Trail. You can either drive all the way uphill on Gore Street or Cherry Street to reach the parking lot. I find the most direct route is to take Latimer Street uphill (east) until I can turn right (south) on Cherry Street.

Facing the trailhead sign, you’ll turn left (north) to start hiking on the rail trail.

Trailhead sign at Mountain Station – note that the Racoon Trail isn’t showing on the map in 2024

Follow the rail trail for 0.4 km and pass by a red fire hydrant on the side of the trail. Then watch for a well-established trail leading uphill into the woods at 0.5km. This is the bottom of the Raccoon Trail and it’s unsigned at this junction.

The Raccoon Trail

The Raccoon Trail climbs over a gentle switchback then gradually rises over the soft forest floor. At 1.1km, cross a scenic stream on a bridge.

At 1.2km, meet a junction in the woods where the Badger Trail descends from the bigger mountain biking trail network. Follow the signed Badger Trail as it curves down.

Looking back on the signed Raccoon Trail

The Badger Trail

The Badger Trail flows downwards for pleasant, easy walking. Look for spring flowers on the forest floor and enjoy the serenity of the woods.

At 1.4km, reach a junction with an overgrown road and continue across. There is also an option to take the road down and return on the rail trail which is peeking through the woods below.

Continue on with care as the lower Badger Trail crosses a few steep mountain bike trails. This section of the trail is relatively flat and it contours through the woods just above the rail trail.

Options

At 2.3km, the Badger Trail reaches an intersection where the left trail curves down to rejoin the rail trail. This is a great option for looping back efficiently. Or you can continue straight to meet Anderson Forest Service Road at 2.4km and walk down the road for a big view over Nelson as you rejoin the rail trail a little further northeast. Either take the rail trail to loop back to the parking lot or retrace your steps back through the forest.

Panorama from the rail trail

Nelson Cycling Club

The Nelson Cycling Club maintains the Smallwood Trails. If you’ve enjoyed the hike, consider becoming a member, making a donation, or volunteering with them.

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