5 Great Trails & Tips for Hiking with Less Impact

Bucket-list Worthy Hikes in the Thompson Okanagan 


Growing up in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, I was constantly spoiled by endless alpine hikes and viewpoints. Before I moved to the Thompson Okanagan, I didn’t necessarily think of the region as a destination for hiking, but this belief quickly changed.

Over the years I have explored the vast majority of the Thompson Okanagan region and here’s what I would consider my “bucket-list” trails for avid hikers.


Kettle Valley Rail Trail, Hope to Castlegar

The Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail and the Columbia & Western Rail Trail is the longest rail trail network in British Columbia extending from Hope to Castlegar. Once a comprehensive railroad system, the decommissioned tracks are now home to an extensive recreational trail providing almost 650 km (400 mi) of connected pathways throughout the region.

Experiences on the trail can be self-guided or part of an organized tour, with sections ranging from family-friendly day-trips to overnight legs for experienced riders.

Learn more about the trail at bcrailtrails.com.


Frosty Mountain, E.C. Manning Provincial Park

Frosty Mountain Trail is located in E.C. Manning Provincial Park, 45 minutes Southeast of Hope. This trail is strenuous, but known for its wildflowers and sub-alpine larches of which turn a vibrant gold around the third week of September.

Learn more about this trail from BC Parks.


Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park

This internationally-renowned trail ventures to Berg Lake, an immaculately turquoise alpine lake at the base of the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, Mount Robson. There are many other spectacular sights along the way like Kinney Lake and Emperor Falls, both worth the trek on their own.

BC Parks caps the number of people that are allowed to camp at any given time, so make sure to book well in advance or visit during the off-season. Limiting the number of people camping helps to manage the environmental impact of visitors and ensures campers are able to enjoy the serenity of this area without battling a crowd.

Learn more about this trail from BC Parks.


Enderby Cliffs Provincial Park, Shuswap

This steep but rewarding trail offers bird-eye views of the Shuswap and North Okanagan. Ensure you stick to the trail as this area is prone to erosion.

Learn more about this trail from BC Parks.


Lac Du Bois Grasslands Protected Area, Thompson Valley

This protected area represents both the Thompson Basin and Northern Thompson Uplands ecosystems. Containing unique and complex ecosystems, this area is a wonderful place to explore the diversity of the Thompson region.

Take the Cinnamon Ridge trail (4.25 km semi-loop/linear trail) to experience hoodoos, desert plants and grassland.

Learn more about this protected area from BC Parks.


Tips for Reducing Your Impact on Trails

Now we have all seen the signs that say “take only photos & leave only footprints” and while this is a great mantra, how do we actually ensure that we are being stewards of our parks and preserving the natural space for years to come?

With increasing numbers of tourists visiting our naturals spaces every year, we need to ensure that we are taking proper precautions to preserve our natural specimens for years to come.

I grew up spending a lot of time in the Canadian outdoors. Luckily for me, my father was in outdoor education, so environmental stewardship was ingrained in me from a young age. Whether I am on a 5 day backpacking trip through Mount Robson Provincial Park, or taking a stroll to Paul’s Tomb in Kelowna, there are many ways in which I strive to reduce my impact on our trail systems.

Plan Ahead

The most important tip is to plan ahead. Every area has different rules, regulations and facilities to be aware of. Check the weather forecasts ahead of time and be informed of any advisories and fire bans that may be in effect. Ensure you know what bathroom facilities are or are not available and whether there is trash disposal on-site.

Stay on Designated Trails and Avoid Shortcuts

It can be tempting to venture off the trail for a viewpoint or a unique photo opportunity, but this can be extremely hard on the local flora and fauna. Stick to the trail and take breaks on hard surfaces like rocks instead of on mosses or forest floor.

Minimize Campsite Impact

A poorly managed campsite can be unpleasant for visitors and may attract unwanted wildlife. To minimize your campsite impact, only camp in designated areas (ideally on tent pads), plan food proportions appropriately so that you don’t end up with leftovers, use as few dishes as possible and wash them with biodegradable soap, dispose of trash as posted or pack it out with you - never burn or bury trash at your campsite.

Respect Wildlife

Never approach, encourage contact with, or feed wildlife - this can be dangerous to both parties. Use bear hangs or locks and never eat or store scented items in your tent. For more wildlife safety tips, visit BC Parks.

Visit in the Off-Season

You may have to deal with more extreme weather, but the trail systems will be less busy and you might even have the whole place to yourself!

Other Resources

Organizations like BC Parks and Leave No Trace Canada are excellent resources for learning more about how you preserve natural landscapes for years to come.
It’s important to always be informed and prepared when heading out into the wilderness. Plan ahead, know the current conditions, and use Adventure Smart as a safety resource.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan Reading is a Canadian travel photographer. She grew up in the rocky mountains of Alberta but now calls British Columbia home. While she looks forward to continuing to explore the world with her camera, her favourite destination will always be her own backyard.

IG @meghan_reading W meghanreading.com