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.

Note for 2023, the cold swimming pool is closed for repairs. Opening date is TBD.

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. 

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

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 spring camping trip.)

Read my story about RV Camping at the RidgeView Resort here:

Plan a spring camping trip to Radium Hot Springs

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.

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