The trails around Ymir form a scenic loop with something for everyone: old growth forest, riverside hiking, a waterfall, a visit to the historic cemetery, and of course the bakery!
Trailhead and Driving Directions
Park anywhere on the main street (1 Ave) in Ymir, BC. Since this is a loop, you can start at any point. But the main street has public washrooms, interpretive signs, and close proximity to the bakery – be strategic! Ymir is a historic mining town with several old buildings on the main street.
Up the Rail Trail
Get onto the Great Northern Rail Trail in Ymir, and start walking north towards Nelson. The Salmo River will flow along to the right. After about 10 minutes, you’ll come to the “W” sign with a scenic swimming hole in the river.
Continuing up the rail trail, you’ll soon reach a road with a bridge over the Salmo river. Cross the bridge and look for a foot path on the far side of the river, heading off into the forest on the left.
Old Growth Grove
The trail will enter a grove of old growth cedar trees and wind along the forest floor. You’ll pass living cedars swirling in size, old stumps with springboard marks chopped into the sides, and old fallen giants that lie like low ridges in the forest floor.
After hiking about 0.5km through the grove, watch for a trail heading off to the right onto the nearby road. Go to the road and turn right again, heading back along the road towards Ymir again. Watch as a field opens up on the left.
Across the Field
As you walk along, look for an opening in the field where an old wagon road begins. There are several small boulders at the entrance. You’ll head down that opening to cross the field.
No pay attention here as it’s easy to keep on the wrong track: follow the old track across the field as it curves around a stand of trees and turns right (S). Keep following it another minute and then stop as the track curves left (E). Look for a junction where a fainter path leaves the track on the right and continues heading South. Follow this fainter path, it will angle towards Wildhorse Creek and near a house, before turning East to head up the creek valley on an old road. If in doubt, consult the GPS map.
The old road becomes much clearer it climbs through the woods. As you walk in the forest, you’ll hear the distant sounds of Wildhorse Creek to your right with a deep ravine dropping down.
After you’ve hiked about 1km up the old road, you’ll reach a junction where you need to fork right to head up to Wildhorse Creek Road and cross the Wildhorse Creek on the bridge.
Across the bridge, hike into a pull-out on the right of the road and look for a trail heading along the opposite bank of the creek. You’ll follow this trail down through the forest with Wildhorse Creek now visible in the ravine on your right now.
After about 0.5km from the bridge, the trail will cross a flat area where vehicles park in the woods. You’re almost at the waterfall. Follow the trail just a few meters more and watch for log over a junction where a trail heads down the bank on the right. It’s a steep route and there is a rope tied up to assist, but only attempt if the path is snow-free and in good condition.
After visiting the waterfall, double-back to that wide parking area and follow the vehicle tracks back onto Wildhorse Creek Road. Walk down the road for about 0.3km.
Up the Big Hill
Now it’s time to cross over the height of land between the Wildhorse Creek valley and the Oscar Creek valley. Watch for a track leading off the road on the left. It will cross a patch of field and then go into the forest and start a steep uphill climb.
This part of the hike is the steepest section, but soon you’ll crest over the ridge and descend on the other side. The track will end at Oscar Creek Road where you’ll turn right and go downhill.
As you walk down Oscar Creek Road, watch the area on your left. The historic Ymir cemetery is hidden in the woods and recent volunteer work has gone into clearing the site. You’ll see coloured flagging tape where volunteers have been marking the graves.
It’s worth stepping off the road to explore the old cemetery. The forest is now tall and overgrown, but you can imagine that back in the day there would have been a wide view of the valley below from this peaceful site.
Back to town
Head back down Oscar Creek Road to get back into town. As you descend, you’ll get a view of the Quartz Creek Watershed which supplies Ymir’s water and is threatened with logging. You can learn more about the issue and sign a petition in town or at the Ymir Community Watershed Society’s site.
Heading back into town, you’ll pass a wooden statue of Ymir down by the Salmo River. For a scenic end to the hike, cross the bridge over the Salmo river and then look for a steep path heading down on the right near the river bank. This path will take you along the river and wind through a stand of massive cottonwood trees before it joins back up with the rail trail.