Columbia Lake – by Canal Flats, east side
1.5 km
240Elevation Gain (m)
The eastern side of Columbia Lake is a perfect easy day hike or bike ride. There are no defined routes, but you can easily follow old roads, hike open grassland, explore sheltered bays along the shore and walk in dense forest. They all combine to make a great spring hike.

In mid- to late April, the mountains are still under metres of snow, but these low-elevation grasslands are in their prime. Spring is when the vegetation is as lush as it gets all season. Wildflowers abound, bald eagles cruise the shoreline, and out in the deeper lake, fish jump. Some of the dry slopes have eroded into short picturesque hoodoos near the shore. The whole area is beautiful and worth exploring.

From the parking spot at the top of the rise, hike the left fork south for 200 m. It heads to a grand view of Columbia Lake at a communications tower. The road to the tower is open all year, but winter conditions will restrict road access.

After seeing the views at the communication tower, walk back to the vehicles and continue walking the road north as it descends for 1.5 km. Then explore the Columbia Lake grassland. There is private land about halfway along the lake, so you cannot hike the whole range.

The east side of Columbia Lake is a protected winter range for many Kootenay ungulates (deer and elk) and as a result the roads are closed some of the year. The hike is in a wildlife management access area and some roads are open from May 1 to November 30. Please obey the signage. See the introduction for more on wildlife management access areas.


Road: may need high-clearance 4x4 for rutted and bumpy last 1.5 km

0 km: From Highway 93/95, take turnoff into Canal Flats and head north past the sawmill and onto the main street of the town, Grainer Road. Turn right off the main street onto any of the dirt tracks heading east. Behind the stores there is a larger road; turn left (north).

800 m: This part is tricky, as nothing is signed. Head north, N59949-E85205. The road you want is the centre route, a nondescript dirt road climbing gradually north that will soon be high above the lake, having gained 240 m (800 ft.). When searching for the access road, don’t descend to the lakeshore (left) and don’t climb up the larger road (right) that makes a large right bend and heads east high above the Kootenay River.

1.3 km: Take left fork

5.6 km: Park at the top of the rise, at a road fork, N61300-E83600, at 944 m (3,100 ft.).

Hike Map
Janice Strong

Janice Strong

Janice Strong is an established professional outdoor photographer. Her images grace collections all over the world and appear in many respected publications. She is passionate about hiking and is also an avid snowshoer and skier, exploring the outdoors of the East Kootenay in southeastern BC year round.

She openly shares her passion for the outdoors with others and has introduced hundreds of people to the joys of hiking. For a decade she led hikes for the City of Cranbrook – Parks and Recreation. With her guidance, many people have themselves become enthusiastic hikers.

Climbing mountains, finding new places and enjoying the experience of the journey have always been important to Janice. She cherishes the little things she sees along the trail, as well as the grand destinations.

When Janice is not writing, hiking or taking photographs, she is involved in various creative digital, website design or photographic projects for her clients. She and her husband, Jamie Levine, enjoy their rural property, near Cranbrook, BC.

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