There’s still a lot of great skiing to be done in the next two months and guaranteed, Calgary will have at least a couple more snowstorms before the flowers finally push their way through the frozen ground. Where can you fast-forward Spring and find green grass in April? Head west to the sunny Columbia Valley near Radium Hot Springs and Invermere to find trails ready for hiking and biking, lakes that are ice-free for paddling and outdoor swimming pools warm enough and ready to enjoy. Spring is ready for you just across the Alberta border, a short three-hour drive from Calgary.
Top 10 things to do in the Columbia Valley this Spring:
1. Hike the trails around Radium Hot Springs and go to the Hot Springs Pool. Hike the Juniper Trail through the Redstreak Campground and stop at the hot springs along the way. It is a 7.4-kilometre loop with the Redstreak Campground Trail and Sinclair Canyon Trail, easily accessed from a parking area just inside the park’s west gate even when the campground is closed.
2. Hike or bike Sinclair Creek in Radium Hot Springs. The Sinclair Creek Trail offers easy riding on a flat gravel trail that follows a pretty little creek. It is also home to the Radium Pump and Jump, a small bike park with a dirt pump track and jumps. The trail can be accessed via a parking lot just past the Canfor Sawmill
3. Take a day trip to Fairmont Hot Springs. No trip to Columbia Valley would be complete without a visit to this massive swimming pool complete with a dive tank and a hot soaking pool. While in the area, take a hike to nearby Findlay Falls or hike up the short Hoodoo Trail. Information on all hikes in the area can be obtained from the Invermere Visitor Centre located on Highway 93/95 near the hill down into the town.
4. Spend the day mountain biking at Nipika Mountain Resort. Nipika Mountain Resort is located off of Settlers Road, accessed from Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park, a short 45 minutes away from Radium Hot Springs. My family spent a weekend here last May and had a fabulous time riding the trail network of bike and ski trails. The ski trails are family-friendly with a wide variety of single-track trails onsite for the more advanced mountain biker in your family. Accommodations are also available onsite in log cabins. The largest log cabin can sleep as many as 13 people.
5. Spend the day exploring Invermere on the lake. Invermere is the hub of the Columbia Valley, and there is no shortage of activities in the area. My family likes playing at the Mount Nelson Skate Park or spending some time at the beach on a warm day. There is a great playground at Kinsman Beach, even if the weather isn’t exactly warm enough for swimsuits.
6. Go paddling and mountain biking at Lake Lillian. Located near Invermere on the Toby Creek Road, Lake Lillian is the ideal ‘off the grid’spot to enjoy a nice Spring day. This lake is great for a short paddle if you bring a canoe, and there are fire pits available for a wiener roast afterward. There are also mountain bike trails across the road with the Junior Johnson Trail being very family-friendly.
7. Visit the Natural Lussier Hot Springs. Located in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park near Canal Flats, these hot springs are as natural as it gets. Park on the side of the Whiteswan Forestry Road at the signed entrance to the hot springs and hike down to the Lussier River where you’ll find rock pools of hot water. Change into your swimsuit before driving out because the only change room you’ll find is the outhouse bathroom onsite.
8. Hike Mount Swansea. This is the only mountain I know of where you can drive most of the way to the top before starting your 20-minute hike to the summit. Located near Canal Flats, it’s a great early season hike and offers great views over the valley. A high clearance vehicle is recommended. For information on the trailhead or road conditions, check in at the Invermere Visitor Centre.
9. Bike the Old Coach Trail from Dry Gulch to Radium Hot Springs. This old historic road is one of the nicest family-friendly mountain bike rides in the valley and at eight kilometres one way, isn’t too long. My family likes to set up a vehicle shuttle or send an adult back for the car. We always start at the parking lot in Dry Gulch and ride to Radium Hot Springs. There’s a lovely coffee shop there too. Meet on Higher Ground, located near the end of the trail, if you should find yourself waiting around with the kids while another adult is riding back for the car.
10. Try Spring skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort. If you aren’t tired of snow yet, Panorama Mountain Resort is located off the Toby Creek Road outside of Invermere, and they offer great Spring skiing through early April. If you want to spend the weekend at this Resort, accommodations are available.
Where to stay in the Columbia Valley
There is no shortage of hotels, motels and resorts in the Columbia Valley. My family, however, prefers to rent a condo in the Radium Hot Springs or Invermere area so we can cook our own meals and share the rental with another family. If you wish to take this same path, High Country Properties specializes in the Columbia Valley area. More information can be found on their website, highcountryproperties.com.
Resort accommodations can also be found at Panorama Mountain Resort, Nipika Mountain Resort or the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, which includes unlimited use of the hot springs.
For more information on the Columbia Valley, visit columbiavalley.com
For more information on Invermere, visit invermerepanorama.com/home.html
Finally, for more information on Radium Hot Springs, visit radiumhotsprings.com
Tanya is a freelance writer and mom to a spunky seven-year-old. She loves hiking, camping, skiing and all things mountain-related. She is the author of the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies, rockiesfamilyadventures.com.
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