The main access into beautiful Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park. The Kokanee Lake Trail starts in the forest and winds up to the sub-alpine realm of meadows, lakes, waterfalls and marmots. Kokanee Glacier Park is great place to spend a weekend, wandering among mountains and meadows.
Trailhead: Kokanee Glacier Road
Distance, One Way: 8.88km
Established in 1922, Kokanee Glacier is one of BC’s oldest provincial parks. Kokanee is peppered with old mining sites and many of today’s trails trace the routes of mining roads.
Follow Kokanee Glacier Road to the parking lot at Gibson Lake. If you’re staying overnight in the park, you need to porcupine-proof your vehicle. No worries, there is a corral full of chicken wire to play with.
Gibson Lake is encircled by a 2km trail, but the better hiking is onwards and upwards into the alpine! Many folks choose to day hike into Kaslo Lake, but there are overnight accommodations at the Kaslo Lake Campground or Kokanee Glacier Cabin. And once you’re up there, there are many day hikes to choose from. Why not make a trip of it?
Up to Kokanee Lake
Leaving Gibson Lake, the trail crosses several waterfalls then weaves through the bushes in slow switchbacks. The elevation gain is steady but manageable. As the forest starts to break up into sub-alpine meadow, Gibson Lake suddenly re-appears far below:
The trail evens out and then gently descends to Kokanee Lake.
Kokanee Lake is a magnificent elongated jewel, fed by waterfalls. It’s about the half-way point to Kaslo Lake and has a washroom and bench. Good spot for a break!
The trail climbs over a scree slope on the west side of the lake. Looking down, you can see the deep blue infinity of glacier-fed waters.
Over Kokanee Pass
On the far side of Kokanee Lake, the trail winds through a meadow of babbling brooks and peeping marmots.
Over Kokanee Pass
As you cross Kokanee Pass, you’ll finally see the iconic landscape of Kokanee Glacier Park. Mount John Carter is to your left, the Pyramids rising up to your right. Much of the surrounding landscape is rocky hills sparsely dotted with trees.
You’ll pass Keen and Garland Lakes on the left, before you suddenly come upon the turn-off to the Kaslo Lake Campground. The Kokanee Glacier Cabin is another 800m beyond.
Kaslo Lake Campground
We spent 2 nights at the campground. It was the August long weekend and I was convinced we needed to arrive early as there are only 10 campsites and it’s a first-come-first-served situation. Turns out, I was wrong. There was nobody there until evening when another tent popped up.
The Kaslo Lake campground is buggy. Unbearably buggy. Clouds of mosquitoes swarm and nuzzle. Luckily, BC Parks has recently built this:
Yes, that fancy shelter has full windows and no bugs inside. Bliss!
The campground stayed relatively quiet for the rest of the long weekend. On the second night, we met two other couples camping out, but the campground and trails were strangely empty.