Hike to Gwillim Lakes

Rate this Adventure Canada Gwillim Lakes Trailhead

Added by Elliott Kramer

  • Absolutely beautiful Day or Overnight hike into the heart of the Valhalla's
  • The only trail to take you truly into the alpine in Valhalla Provincial Park
  • Stunning Mountain Landscapes
  • Distance: 12km return
  • Elevation Gain: 1164m
  • Time: 5 Hours (+)

The trail to Gwillum Lakes is a must do when in the West Kootenay. It's iconic with the locals for being one of the best day hike or overnight camp trips in the region. A 6km hike through true wilderness rewards you with an alpine meadow dotted with small lakes perfect for swimming in and camping around.

The trail begins with a long drive - about 45km from the nearest highway on logging roads. Be prepared for a slow trip there - 4WD and/or clearance is recommended for this trip, however I have seen low clearance vehicles make it. There is good signage from the highway to the trailhead, however look at a map first and be prepared - there are many logging roads branching off the main route which can make it easy to get lost.

The trail itself is relatively easy to follow. It is one of the more popular hikes in the West Kootenay (so you might see a max of 10 people on the whole trail...!). It initially leads steeply up a basin to Drinnon Lake and then Drinnon Pass, which normally takes around an hour and a half to achieve. From there, it winds down into a huge valley and along the valley floor towards a small lake. Continue past this lake and ascend again to reach Gwillum lakes.

The lakes themselves do not have to be the end of the trail. Many hikers choose to set up base camp and explore the area around the lakes through scrambling and smaller trails. Lucifer Pass is a popular addition, which is the small pass directly North from the lakes in between Lucifer Peak on the right and Black prince on the left.

If camping - try to leave as little trace as possible - and stay on the trails in the meadow to reduce human impact. This spot is incredibly beautiful and should be left that way for many more to enjoy!

Also - Porcupines have been known to eat rubber in cars which have been parked overnight at the trailhead. Take enough chicken wire to wrap and secure around the bottom of your vehicle to prevent these guys getting in and eating your brake lines or coolant hoses!

Pack List

  • Good hiking boots
  • Tent and Overnight gear
  • Lots of Drinking Water or Water Filter
  • Camera and Photography equipment
  • Snacks
  • Bear Spray
  • Chicken Wire to wrap your car with if parking overnight
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn



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