Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Winter Getaway to Jasper with Affordable Lodging at the HI Athabasca Falls Hostel

As a child growing up in Northern Alberta, Jasper National Park was my family's closest mountain destination for ski weekends and summer vacations. These days, my family has to wait for a long weekend to make the trek north from Calgary, and finding affordable lodging becomes very important.

HI Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel, Jasper National Park

This year we chose to visit Jasper for the Family Day Long weekend and we booked a private room at the HI Athabasca Falls Hostel for a cross-country ski getaway. We spent three days skiing, hiking, and ice skating around the Town of Jasper from our cozy wilderness base camp.

Cross-country ski getaway in Jasper (Whirlpool Valley Trail)

Geography and Access to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway

The town of Jasper is located 412 km north west of Calgary or 364 km straight west from Edmonton.  In summer, it's pretty easy to access via the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise but in winter this road is often snow covered, closed for avalanche control, or just plain treacherous.  We still make the trek once every winter or two but snow tires are a must and you want to check the road report before you go.

The route from Calgary to Jasper can be seen here on Google Maps and more information on driving the Icefields Parkway can be found here on the Parks Canada Icefields Parkway Travel GuideThere's a great map and winter brochure that can be downloaded from the Parks Canada site too.

I recommend leaving in the morning if possible so that you can stop along the Icefields Parkway at a few of the viewpoints.

There's nothing like a bluebird day on the Icefields Parkway

Panther Falls: One of the short hikes you can take along the Icefields Parkway in winter

Accommodations at the HI Athabasca Falls Hostel

While there is no shortage of hotels and motels in Jasper, we love staying at the HI Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel , one of ten wilderness properties in the Hostelling International Canada collection.

We used to refer to our wilderness hostel trips as "camping adventures" when the kids were younger, but you should feel pretty comfortable at Athabasca Falls, one of the more luxurious wilderness properties.

"You won’t find electricity or running water here, but alternative energy sources power the lights, the kitchen is fully equipped for all your cooking needs and the heated sleeping rooms are the perfect spot to rest your head. It's also said that these wilderness hostels have some of the cleanest and nicest outhouses in the parks! There’s a manager on-site to help you get settled, and easy road access gets you right to the door." - Hostelling International Canada

The Athabasca Falls are just across the highway from the wilderness hostel

Sleeping at the HI Athabasca Falls Hostel:

The hostel has a two mixed-gender shared cabins. Each cabin sleeps 12 to 16 guests. Youth must be at least 13 years old to sleep in a shared cabin with their parents.

Athabasca Falls also has two private rooms that share opposite sides of a third cabin. Each private room comes with a double bed and two bunk beds (sleeping up to 6 people.) These rooms are great for a family or group of friends, and younger children are allowed to share these rooms with their parents.

Every stay at the hostel includes sheets, pillows, and blankets so you can leave the sleeping bags at home and pack more outdoor gear. The cabins are also heated so this is definitely not camping and you won't be cold.

And while the cabins have lights, you'll still want to bring your headlamps or flashlights for outhouse bathroom trips. There is no indoor plumbing at the hostel, but folks wanting a shower are allowed to drop in at the HI Jasper Hostel in town.

Each private room has a double bed
We always book a private room for our family and have also shared one with friends. We enjoy the extra space where we can spread our wet clothing out to dry, and enjoy having a door we can lock with our possessions safely stored inside while we're out exploring.

Each private room has two bunk beds

Common shared facilities at the HI Athabasca Falls Hostel: 

The hostel has a large shared cabin with a fully stocked kitchen including microwave, propane stoves and ovens, toasters, coffee pots and kettles, dishes and cooking supplies, and two large refrigerators.

Shared cabin with kitchen in the HI Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel
The cabin has a beautiful fireside room as well with comfortable sofas and a wood burning fireplace that is usually crackling. And lest you forget to bring books or games, don't worry! The hostel has enough games to occupy your group for days! There's also a plentiful collection of local guide books to read. I should mention too that there are outlets for charging your devices in the sleeping cabins as well as in the main cabin.

There's plenty of room for large groups and families at the HI Athabasca Falls Hostel 

Why hosteling?

One - We can travel with groups of friends and hang out together in a common cabin to play games, cook, and eat together. That won't work at a motel.

Two - We get a winter wilderness experience which is great when it's still months to go before camping season begins. When our son was younger, he loved playing outside each hostel in the giant snow banks with his friends. 

Most hostels also have outdoor fire pits which can be fun with a group of friends and a bag of marshmallows.

Three - We save money by staying at an affordable hostel and can cook our own meals rather than having to eat out.

Sharing the hostel with other groups also means you'll be chatting with the other guests while you cook dinner, finding out about their adventures from the day, and maybe discovering a new trail or two to explore.

Sleeping cabins at the HI Athabasca Falls Hostel 

Winter Exploring in Jasper: Athabasca Falls 

Athabasca Falls is right across the highway from the hostel and it's a very short hike. The full loop around the viewing platforms and down through the lower canyon is 1 km in length. At a good pace, you can be back in your vehicle in under an hour (with plenty of time for photos.)

Athabasca Falls in winter 

Note the trail can be quite icy (especially if you want to descend into the canyon) so bring ice cleats and wear good boots.

Bring ice cleats to explore the canyon at Athabasca Falls

Winter Exploring in Jasper: Cross-country Skiing 

Parks Canada maintains groomed cross-country ski trails in the following areas:
  • Whirlpool cross-country ski hub
  • Marmot Meadows cross-country ski hub
  • Pyramid Lake
  • Wabasso Campground

Visit the Parks Canada website for full information on each area. 

Pyramid Creek on the Pyramid Fire Road

Skiing the Pyramid Fire Road

My family first chose to ski the Pyramid Fire Road from Pyramid Lake because I wanted to reach the Pyramid Lookout (and couldn't resist skiing one of the most difficult trails in the park.)

The Pyramid Fire Road is 13.2 km round trip and the scenery from the lookout is definitely worth the climbing. The ski down is also a lot of fun!!

Pyramid Lookout on the Pyramid Fire Road Trail

Parks Canada describes the trail below: 

"Choose your turn-around point: ski the mainly flat, first 1.1 km to Pyramid Creek at the end of Pyramid Lake (green), and then continue on and gain steady elevation on your way to Pyramid Slough at km 3.1 (blue). Next, climb steeply to the lookout over the Athabasca Valley shortly before the end of the groomed trail at km 6.6 (black)"

Know before you go:

- Dogs are allowed on this trail on leash.

- This is a ski only trail. No fat biking, no hiking, no walking.

- The trail is groomed for both classic + skate skiing. It would be a very advanced skate skiing trail though with the climbing!

After skiing the Pyramid Fire Road, I recommend skating on Pyramid Lake if you've brought ice skates. and if you want to check out the Town of Jasper, this is a good opportunity before returning to the hostel for dinner.

Approximately 400 metres of climbing brought us to this lookout

Skiing the Trail to Moab Lake

Skiing the Whirlpool Valley Trail in Jasper exceeded all expectations! We skied 16 Km round trip to reach Moab Lake and the trailhead for the historic Athabasca Pass route.

It was pretty cool skiing to two sets of the iconic red Parks Canada chairs as well.

Easy skiing on the Whirlpool Valley Trail

Skiing beside the Whirlpool River

Parks Canada describes the trail:

"Ski through the woods on the gentle rolling terrain of Moab Lake Road (green.) The red chairs at a viewpoint of the Whirlpool River make a great destination. Beyond that, follow Moab Lake Road past the red chairs and the Whirlpool River (blue.) The groomed trail ends at a viewpoint of Moab Lake with another set of red chairs."

And for those staying at the Athabasca Falls Hostel, the Whirlpool cross-country ski trails are a very short drive away. Spend a few hours skiing, stop at the Athabasca Falls site for a short hike, and you have your first day filled. 

Know before you go:

- Dogs are allowed on this trail on leash.

- This is a ski only trail. No fat biking, no hiking, no walking.

- This is a great trail for skate skiing and there is a very large skate area in the middle of the double tracksetting.

First set of red chairs beside the Whirlpool River

Trailhead for the historic Athabasca Pass route (still 49km further!)

Moab Lake and the second set of red chairs

Winter Exploring in Jasper: Hiking Maligne Canyon

A valid question: did you really go to Jasper if you didn't hike Maligne Canyon?? 

This is a classic "must do" activity, summer or winter, and you can choose to hike above the canyon (required in summer) or hike down inside the canyon (winter only.)

Make sure you bring good spikes or ice cleats for this one and if you aren’t familiar with the canyon, guided tours are recommended. Helmets are also suggested due to the risk of falling ice.

Hiking in Maligne Canyon is a must-do winter activity in Jasper

If you don’t have a helmet, stay away from the waterfalls, do not stand under them, and give the ice climbers wide space! (Good advice even if you have a helmet.)

We always park at the 5th Bridge parking lot and hike up the trail from here, dropping into the canyon when we find an opening in the fence. Read more about the hike on the Hike Jasper website.

You'll want good spikes or ice cleats for this hike!

Visiting Maligne Canyon from the Athabasca Falls hostel is a good day trip and I recommend stopping at the Jasper Park Lodge to skate after if you've brought ice skates.

We also combined our hike + ice skating with dinner in town and wandering around looking in the stores.

Maligne Canyon is a magical place in winter

Winter Exploring in Jasper: Natural Outdoor Ice Skating 

We stopped to skate on Pyramid Lake after skiing the Pyramid Fire Road. The Pyramid Lake Resort maintains an oval on the lake and it's a nice place to spend an hour on a sunny day. The ice was quite smooth for our visit and we enjoyed the mixed ski/skate outing from the Athabasca Falls hostel.

Skating on the Pyramid Lake Oval in Jasper

The resort also rents ice skates if you forgot to bring yours. Read more on the Tourism Jasper website.

If you need to warm up afterwards, I highly recommend stopping in at the Bear's Paw Bakery in town for a cup of Jasper's best coffee and one of their homemade treats. I'm usually tempted to order one of everything in the display case! 

After hiking Maligne Canyon, we also stopped to skate on Mildred Lake at the Jasper Park Lodge. This oval is a full kilometre in distance and so we got quite the workout skating laps here. Skate rentals are also available at the Jasper Park Lodge.

Skating on Lake Mildred at the Jasper Park Lodge

For more information...

For more information on winter hosteling with Hostelling International Canada please visit their website.

Make a reservation for the HI Athabasca Falls Hostel directly from the HI Canada website.

For more information on winter activities in Jasper, visit the Tourism Jasper website.

And downhill skiers will want to visit the Marmot Basin website.

You can also read my specific Marmot Basin story here: Marmot Basin: A Ski Resort the Whole Family will Love in Jasper National Park

Winter hiking in Maligne Canyon

More Resources:

Read: Winter Road Trip to Jasper National Park - where we stayed at the HI Maligne Canyon Hostel

Read: The Wildest Winter Canyon Hike in the Canadian Rockies - hiking Maligne Canyon with young children

Read: Winter Road Trip? North to Jasper National Park - with downhill skiing, ice climbing, and winter hiking

Disclaimer: Our stay at the HI Athabasca Falls Hostel was hosted for this trip. All words and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Spring Adventure Guide to the BEST of Radium Hot Springs and the Columbia Valley

We spend a lot of time in Radium Hot Springs year round but spring is definitely one of our favourite times for exploring this quiet village. March brings warm weather for sunny ski days, and by late April you'll start to see green grass and trees beginning to bloom.

Everything is always a month ahead in the Columbia Valley for spring weather, and if you close your eyes in the hot springs, sun shining on your face, I promise you'll feel like it's even summer already.

Jump into spring in Radium Hot Springs!

Destination Overview

From Calgary it is a 3 hour drive to the Village of Radium Hot Springs and the gateway to the Columbia Valley. The drive is very doable for a 2-day weekend and many local families head out after work on Friday. You can spend all day Saturday and most of Sunday exploring before you have to head home Sunday afternoon.

It's easy to plan an active family getaway to Radium Hot Springs in the spring

5 Spring Activities to Enjoy with your Family in Radium Hot Springs

1. Warm up at the Radium Hot Springs Pools

We absolutely love visiting the Radium Hot Springs mineral pools where you can enjoy both a large hot soaking pool along with a separate heated swimming pool, open year round (complete with slide and diving board in the summer months.) We've easily spent hours here at a time, and on a warm day you can even lie out in a beach chair beside the swimming pool.

Close your eyes and pretend it's summer!

2. Walk around the Village Looking for Local Wildlife 

We love walking around the Springs Golf Course in town before it opens for the season. You'll almost always find large numbers of bighorn sheep hanging out in the morning or late afternoon along with a flock or two of wild turkeys.

The bighorn sheep love hanging out on the Springs Golf Course 

You'll find no shortage of wildlife encounters as you walk around town

We also love the views over the Columbia River wetlands that you can enjoy as you walk around the golf course. We particularly like the views from the back nine where you can look down on the river from the escarpment beside the 18th hole.

I also recommend walking around the quiet village streets where you're almost guaranteed to find at least a couple of deer munching on the plants in somebody's front yard.

Looking down on the Columbia River from the Springs Golf Course

And for the kids, there's a great playground at the northeast end of Legends Field (where you'll also find a hockey arena, sledding hill, and a spray park in the summer months.)

There's an exercise circuit with an outdoor fitness gym beside the playground as well (and it's one of the better ones we've found.)

The main town playground is a fun stop along your village walk

And while you're out, I recommend stopping in at the Bighorn Cafe on the main street. Personal menu favourites include their breakfast burritos and their cinnamon buns. Most importantly, they serve good strong coffee.

Across the street you'll also find Screamers Ice Cream CafĂ©, newly renovated and now serving coffee, baked items, and daily lunch specials.

Always my second home when I'm in Radium Hot Springs 

Wild turkeys hanging out on the main street in Radium Hot Springs 

3. Take a Walk or Bike Ride along Sinclair Creek 

The Sinclair Creek Trail is another good walk for those wanting to find the local wildlife. We often see deer when we're exploring along Sinclair Creek in the shoulder season.

Easy hiking along Sinclair Creek where you'll often see at least a couple of deer 

The easiest way to access this trail is from the official parking lot off Forsters Landing Road where you turn into the Canfor Sawmill (a fun adventure in and of itself for the kids as you drive through the middle of the mill.)

The trail is relatively flat and offers very easy walking. There are a couple of pretty little bridges and the creek is fun to explore year round. 

Spring biking along the Sinclair Creek Trail

By mid April we also enjoy biking the trail along the creek. It's a wide gravel trail and perfect for novice cyclists. You'll also find a bike park and pump track if you follow the trail heading back towards Forsters Landing Road.

The Sinclair Creek Pump Track is fun with children and youth

4. Hike Sinclair Canyon

This trail is more difficult than the Sinclair Creek Trail above and if you visit in March you'll likely still want to pack a pair of ice cleats with you.

There are two access points for this one, the first one being much easier and flatter.

Access one: Drive down into the Canyon RV Resort and park beside the entrance to the "Creekside in the Canyon" property. Hike through the streets of Creekside, until you reach the trailhead for the Sinclair Canyon trail which follows Sinclair Creek.

* And in case you're confused, yes, this is the same creek I wrote about above, but there is no tunnel under highway 95 so you can not access the canyon from the Sinclair Creek parking lot in the sawmill.

If you access the Sinclair Canyon Trail from the RV Resort you'll enjoy a pleasant walk on a relatively flat trail through a beautiful forest. The hike is less than a kilometre one way until you reach the end of the trail at a large waterfall, mostly hidden from view further up the canyon.

Sinclair Creek as it flows through Sinclair Canyon

Access two: Take highway 93 up the hill towards the hot springs and park along the side of the highway at a viewpoint where you'll see a sign for the trail heading down into the canyon. The parking lot is just past the west gate and is on your left hand side as you leave Radium.

From here, you can expect a very steep descent down into the canyon which I don't recommend with young children if there's snow still on the ground. The trail is very slippery so you'll need ice cleats or spikes for sure.

Once you reach the bottom you can hike left towards the RV resort or go right to see the waterfall. If you cross the bridge you'll be on the Juniper Trail which climbs to the hot springs pools. Unless you want to follow the Juniper Trail, return the same way you came by climbing back up to the highway.

The Sinclair Canyon Trail is a magical place to explore

Extension for a more challenging hike: From the bottom of the canyon, cross the bridge and start climbing up the Juniper trail which gains 260 metres of height. The trail is 3.2 km long, one way, including the descent down from the highway.

The trail switchbacks steeply to a couple of beautiful viewpoints over the canyon and the highway before it drops back down to the hot springs pools.

Viewpoint at the top of the Juniper Trail 

I recommend returning to your initial parking lot on the Redstreak Campground Trail (3.2 km in length) which starts behind the hot springs pools. This trail takes you through an old growth cedar forest and is very beautiful.

Looking down on Sinclair Canyon from the Redstreak Campground Trail

Follow this link for more information and trail descriptions for the Sinclair Canyon and Juniper Trails on the Parks Canada website.

There is also a great trail map that you can download at the bottom of the Parks Canada page. The map is shown below.

And if you use the All Trails app, the full Juniper Loop with Redstreak Campground Trail is on there.

There are lots of great hiking trails around Radium Hot Springs

5. Go for a Hike around the Redstreak Campground Trails

Using the map above you can see several trails that start from the Redstreak Campground. You can't drive all the way up to the campground before it opens in May, but you can get as far as the Valley View lookout. Park there and continue on foot. (Fortunately, most of the height gained on the climb up to the campground is before this viewpoint, and is done with your car.)

The Redstreak Loop Trail offers a beautiful viewpoint of the Columbia Valley

Trail options from Redstreak:

  1. Valley View  Trail  - Follow the trail from where you park your car up to the campground entrance.

  2. Redstreak Restoration Trail - This trail starts beside the large campground wood pile and follows a scenic bench that looks over the village. We've often seen sheep on this trail.

  3. Redstreak Loop Trail - This trail starts in the E loop and climbs to a gorgeous viewpoint over the village. It's a steep trail and you may want ice cleats or spikes if it's still snowy.

  4. Redstreak Campground Trail - You can take this trail to the hot springs. The trail takes you through an old growth cedar forest.

You'll often see bighorn sheep on the road to the Redstreak Campground

We've also enjoyed biking around the campground before it opens in May. The road up to the campground is paved as are all of the roads around the campground. You'll find playgrounds as well for the kids along with several natural dirt paths that are fun to explore.

Bike around the Redstreak Campground for great wildlife viewing

Where to Stay in Radium Hot Springs 

We're planning a spring getaway to Radium Hot Springs this year and are going to be staying at the RidgeView Resort where we'll have an entire vacation home to use as our adventure base camp.

RidgeView Resort has 9 vacation homes that can be rented for a trip to Radium Hot Springs and there's also an RV Park where you can either lease a site for the season or rent a site on a nightly basis. 

RV sites include a covered cabana, a BBQ, and full hookups. For the hardy campers out there, the RV Resort also accommodates winter camping (and it can be pretty nice in the valley for a March camping trip.)

Features of the vacation homes include: 
  • 3 bedrooms in each home

  • 2 full bathrooms

  • A fully equipped kitchen so that you can save money on eating out

  • A gas burning fireplace

  • A sun deck with BBQ 

  • High speed WiFi

  • Access to resort amenities including an indoor swimming pool and hot tub in winter, an outdoor pool in summer, fitness centre, arcade room, pickle ball court, beach volleyball, and mini-golf (May - September.)

Follow this link to see photos of the resort

Explore the best of the Columbia Valley from Radium Hot Springs this spring

Spring Day Trips from Radium Hot Springs 

If you've fully explored Radium Hot Springs or your feet are getting tired from walking all over the village, check out these fun options below for a fun spring weekend in the Columbia Valley.

1. Skate the Lake Windermere Whiteway (IF you visit early spring) 

Most families will park at Kinsman Beach in Invermere to access the Lake Windermere Whiteway and you can easily skate to the Community of Windermere approximately 6 km down the lake. When the skating trail on the west side of the lake is open, you can complete a 12 km loop between the two communities.

My family personally likes to access the Whiteway from the public beach in Windermere so that we can skate to Invermere for lunch. We bring our boots with us in a backpack so we can walk across the road from Kinsman Beach to reach the Station Pub, a great family-friendly restaurant.

Day use fees are requested, $5 per person, and can be paid at either of the trail kiosks in Invermere or Windermere.

Ice skating on the Lake Windermere Whiteway 

2. Visit Panorama Mountain Resort for some spring skiing! 

The resort is located a short 20 minutes from Invermere and is an easy day trip from Radium Hot Springs.

You can read all about the resort in my previous stories:

Read: Find it ALL at Panorama Mountain Resort

Spring skiing is glorious at Panorama Mountain Resort

Panorama Mountain Resort also has a great Nordic Centre and they groom/trackset their 20 km of trails daily for great March skiing.

Visit their website at Panorama Nordic Centre. 

Panorama Mountain Resort grooms 20 km of trails for XC skiing

3. Visit Nipika Mountain Resort  in March for a day of XC skiing or fat biking

Nipika is an eco resort set amongst a large trail network maintained for cross-country skiing, fat biking, and snowshoeing in the winter months. In summer you can enjoy mountain biking, hiking, and trail running.

The resort is located 40 minutes east of Radium Hot Springs and it's a great place to visit on your drive back to Calgary because you'll take Highway 93 back into Kootenay National Park to access the resort.

Nipika has 50 km of trails groomed and maintained for classic and skate skiing. You'll also find 30 km of trails groomed for fat biking along with other trails designated for winter hiking or snowshoeing.

We enjoy both cross-country skiing and fat biking here and you can rent any equipment that you need including fat bikes. They even have two youth fat bikes (one 20 inch bike and one 24 inch bike.)

Skiing over the Natural Bridge at Nipika Mountain Resort

4. Try Glamping in a cozy yurt at Radius Retreat near Radium Hot Springs

Radius is a forested year-round mountain side retreat offering hike-in yurt rentals and 1000 acres of explorable wilderness. The closest yurts are only 200 metres away from the parking lot, allowing for easy access to spend your days exploring around the Radium Hot Springs area. 

For a mountain-top camping experience, book a couple of nights at the "Perch," located 2.8 km from the parking lot. It's a gentle climb to the yurt and you'll enjoy your quiet retreat with no neighbors nearby.

Read about our stay at Radius here: Yurt Camping on top of a Mountain at Radius Retreat 

Backcountry yurt camping in Radium Hot Springs 

5. Go find the most awesome swings ever at the Eagle Ranch Resort

This has been a recent discovery for us and it's a great spring activity before the Eagle Ranch Golf Course opens for the season. The swings are located on a scenic bench above the Columbia River and are a very short walk from the golf course parking lot.

Become a parent superhero when you take your kids to these swings!

6. Bag your first peak of the season with an ascent of Mount Swansea

Save this one for late April when the snow is all gone from the mountain. For earlier hikes, make sure you bring spikes or ice cleats for lingering snow.

From the bottom parking lot, climb the Lower Swansea Trail (shared with mountain bikes) until you reach the Ashby Ascent Trail (hiking only.) This will take you to the summit of Mount Swansea. From the summit, descend the back side to the upper parking lot (which is closed in spring.)

From the upper parking lot you have two options. Either walk down the road (boring but direct,) or follow the South Ridge trail to the bottom (for a challenging loop that avoids walking the road.)

For a shorter loop, follow signs for the Tower Loop rather than climbing all the way to the summit.

For the best website descriptions, visit the Summit Trail Makers Website. This group maintains the Mount Swansea trails.

Mount Swansea is a great "first summit" for the season

7. Go exploring for natural hot springs!

Spring is a good time to go hunting for natural hot springs before the summer crowds arrive in the valley. The Lussier Hot Springs are the most famous and are a great day trip from Radium Hot Springs.

The Lussier Hot Springs are a great spring day trip from Radium Hot Springs

The Indigenous Baths at Fairmont Hot Springs are worth a stop en route to Lussier as well. Park at the overflow parking lot by the zipline operation, and hike up the small hill where you'll see a historic bath house. I recommend running up in full clothing first to see IF there is water in the pools outside the bath house. Sometimes the pools are dry in spring.

Note the Indigenous Baths are "warm" and so make sure you choose a nice day for your visit. They are not hot. For truly "hot" hot springs, visit Lussier.

Soaking in the Indigenous Baths at Fairmont Hot Springs

The Indigenous Baths offer pleasant soaking when there's water in the pools

8. Launch the mountain biking season early with great spring rides

Our favourite spring mountain bike trails are all located between Radium Hot Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs. The trails dry out early and are usually in condition by mid to late April.

Singletrack trails off the Old Coach Trail near Radium Hot Springs

Recommended  mountain bike trails include the Old Coach Trail (with Deja View singletrack trails) near Radium Hot Springs, and The Spirit Trail south of Fairmont Hot Springs (with Teen Spirit singletrack trail.)

Singletrack trails off the Spirit Trail south of Fairmont Hot Springs

For paved biking, check out the Markin MacPhail Westside Legacy Trail between Invermere and Fairmont. The trail is approximately 25 km long and is a great workout with big hills and rolling terrain.

Beautiful paved biking on the Westside Legacy Trail

9. Go for an easy hike on the Wilmer Wetlands Trail outside Invermere

The trailhead is located north of the Village of Wilmer off Westside Road and it's a nice walk along a bluff overlooking the river wetlands. We happened upon this trail one day while geocaching and now it's become an annual favourite for a short one-hour walk. 

The loop is 4 km in total and dogs must be on leash at all times. Bikes are not allowed in this protected area.

The trail also shows up on Google Maps

The Wilmer Wetlands Trail is a great shoulder season hike

10. Geocaching anyone?

If you like geocaching, there are hundreds of caches to find throughout the Columbia Valley. One of our favourite places for geocaching is along the Old Coach Trail outside Radium Hot Springs where there's a cache hidden approximately every kilometre along the old road that you can bike or hike. (12 in total along one trail!)

We like to do the outing one-way from the Dry Gulch parking lot with bikes and send an adult back for the vehicle. From the north end of the trail you're at the edge of town so you can just head to one of the coffee shops in Radium Hot Springs to wait for your ride.

Thanks to geocaching we've discovered many new trails and fun places to explore throughout the Columbia Valley.

One of the micro caches hidden along the Old Coach Trail

This guide has been written in partnership with Tourism Radium Hot Springs and they will be hosting our spring stay at the RidgeView Resort. 

As always, all opinions are my own. I have used all of my own photography.