All aboard the Great Northern Rail Trail! It’s not the most exciting hike, but the rail-grade is easy, gentle walking. The destination of this hike is white sandy Troup Beach at Five Mile Point – a great picnic spot with shallow water, sandbars, and solitude.
The Great Northern Rail Trail is a 48km stretch of old railway line that connects Nelson, Ymir, and Salmo. The gentle grade means it’s an easy route for biking and hiking. There are multiple trailheads along the way with vehicle parking.
The closest trailhead to this final segment of trail is on Svoboda Road where a network of mountain biking trails also start.
Down the Rail Trail
Setting off from Svoboda Road, the Rail Trail is a just a walk in the woods. Glimpses of Kootenay Lake and Bealby Point can be seen below, but for the most part, the trail is shrouded in forest.
You’ll cross three long wooden bridges and pass through rock cuts as you journey on.
About 4.5km down the trail, a recent rock slide covers part of the path, but no worries – a path has been cleared.
Near the end, you’ll reach a red picnic table and start to see sand along the path. Where is all this sand coming from?
We took a small trail branching off to descend from the Rail Trail, down across the active railway, and down again to the shoreline. We looked for signs of an official trail, but we ended up picking our way along the shore until we got the the white sand of Troup Beach.
Troup Beach is beautiful when the water level is low. A sand bar forms a natural bridge between Kootenay Lake and a small captive pond. Another sand bar points straight out to the middle of Kootenay Lake. The water is very shallow and clear.
Looking back towards Nelson, the orange bridge is faint in the distance. You’ve now travelled 6km along Kootenay Lake.
We tried to find a better route back from Troup Beach to the Rail Trail, but after picking our way through the bush and getting coated in burs, we decided to turn back and retrace our steps along the western shoreline.