Hike the Pilot Bay Trail

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A gorgeous lake shore trail along the amazing Kootenay Lake. Accessible nearly every month of the year. Enjoy an awesome (free) ferry ride to get there. Duration: half day to full day.

Kootenay Lake is one of BC's biggest lakes at 104km long, and between 3-5km wide. At nearly 500ft deep, this lake stays cold all summer long with the most perfectly clear and clean water you can imagine. Hiking the Pilot Bay Trail is a great way to experience this incredible place.

All of BC's inland ferries are part of the highway system, and are free of charge, unlike the ocean ferries on the West Coast. Here in the Kootenays, you'll likely find yourself traveling by ferry at least once or twice, to get where you want to go. From Nelson, take HWY 3A to the North Shore and follow signs to the Kootenay Lake Ferry, about thirty minutes from Nelson.

The ferry sails on a schedule you can find here and changes winter to summer, so be sure you've got the correct times. The ride is about 35 minutes and will start off your adventure with some wow moments, especially if you time it with sunrise or sunset.

Pilot Bay Provincial Park is immediately on your right as you drive off the ferry. Follow the road just over 3km to the well marked parking area and trailhead. This beautiful trail follows the shoreline, delivering you to brightly colored pebble beaches, peaceful camping areas, and showing off the expansive views of Kootenay Lake the entire way. Of all the lowlands trails I've hiked, this is hands down one of the best.

In summer it is possible to backpack, fish, kayak, canoe, swim, camp ($5/person) or take a picnic. The park boundary ends just past Boomer's Beach, but the trail continues a long ways after this. You'll be returning on the same path, so just go as far as you like, timing it with your return ferry trip.

The huge amount of water in Kootenay Lake keeps this trail at a moderate temperature all year long. It is likely you'll find it snow free February/March straight through until November, due in part to it's full sun exposure. Stop in for a post hike espresso at one of the cool little cafes by the ferry landing, or pop into the village of Crawford Bay to experience a true taste of small town BC.

Pack List

  • Sturdy hiking shoes
  • Day pack with 2L of water, food, first aid kit, extra layers
  • Camera, binoculars
  • Ferry schedule
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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Fitness, Hiking, Photography, Running, Swimming

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

4 Miles

Elev. Gain:

200 Feet

Features:

Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
Romantic
Scenic
Swimming Hole
Wildlife

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Added by Emily Haggar

One half mountain adventurer and one half creative entrepreneur. Live the life you want to live, not the one you're supposed to live. IG: @lifeinthemtns + farandwild.ca + mountainlove.ca

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