Hiking is the basis of Mountain Trek’s program. Find out the best ways to hike, learn about the vacations and check out some of the hikes we guide visitors on.


Trekking Poles: How to choose the right poles for you

hiking poles lined up on a wall

It’s important to have the right gear to support you in having the most fun, safe, and effective workout possible. At Mountain Trek, we include trekking poles in necessary hiking gear, as do many avid hikers around the world. But like any good gear, it is so important to find what works best for you. Here, we’ll help you to choose the best hiking pole for you by covering what features to look for. But first; why bother using them?

line of 4 adults hiking with poles in beautiful mountain scenery

Why use hiking poles?

Using walking/hiking poles offers several benefits:

  • Poles provide better balance and footing, especially over slippery or uneven terrain, like when crossing streams, over loose rocks, etc.
  • During ascent, poles can add thrust, while taking pressure off the lower body, and onto the shoulders and upper back.
  • During descent, poles can significantly reduce the amount of stress on legs, hips, and joints, and reduce the possibility of injury by adding stability. Although this is particularly beneficial to those with weaker or compromised knees/ankles, reducing stress and impact to the body is certainly beneficial for everyone.
  • Poles can be used to clear away loose hanging vegetation, or can be used to scope out swampy patches or possible holes before venturing forwards.
  • In the unlikely event of an injury, a pole can be used in wilderness first aid as a splint or crutch.
  • And last but not least, using hiking poles not only reduces your perceived exertion rate by taking strain off the legs and into the arms, but increases calories burned. In a study by the Cooper Institute of Dallas, they found that using trekking poles burned up to 20% more calories compared to the same walk or hike without poles.

Woman admiring and inspecting hiking poles

What features should I look for in a hiking pole?

When shopping for a hiking pole, consider the kind of terrain you will be traversing, and how much weight you will have in your pack. Also review the health of your knees, ankles, hips, and joints.

Regular or Anti-Shock

With this determined, you can decide if you would like to get ‘regular’ or ‘anti-shock’ poles. Anti-shock poles have a shaft that contains an anti-shock spring mechanism, softening any impact while travelling downhill. Anti-shock technology is particularly beneficial for those with sensitive knees, ankles, joints, etc. And the anti-shock mechanism can be turned off when it is not needed; for example when traveling uphill. Regular or standard poles have a simple shaft, and are a little bit lighter than antishock poles since they do not contain that mechanism. They of course are unable to provide the same level of shock absorption as an anti-shock model, but do provide the same stability.

The parts of a pole include the tip, basket, shaft (which includes or does not include the anti-shock device), locking mechanism, grip, and wrist strap. When choosing a hiking pole, consider each of these components:


The shaft’s make up will likely be either high-grade aluminum or carbon fibre. A pair of high-grade aluminum poles will weigh around 20 ounces, are very durable and flexible, and rarely break. Carbon fibre poles will weigh less on average, about 15 ounces, and are also very durable. But when carbon fibre poles are under extreme stress, they can shatter. Keep in mind that both the length and the circumference of the shaft varies as well.

Pole tips are usually made out of carbide or steel. Additionally, there is and option of getting a rubber tip cover. This protects the lifetime, and your pack when the poles are stowed. The rubber ends are also better for harder surfaces, like pavement.

Locking Mechanisms

Locking mechanisms allow you to determine the length of your pole for different terrain, or for stowing in your luggage en route to your hiking destination. Two or three interlocking sections make up your pole. And if you’re very tall or short, it’s important to check the full extension/compression length of the pole. Most poles have a ‘twist and lock’ system, like a form of clamp. Whatever the mechanism, ensure it’s durable and dependable – you’d hate to have this fail on you at a critical moment. Regular maintenance through cleaning and drying of the separate components of your hiking poles can help with your locking mechanism’s life span and reliability.


Both the grip shape and material vary, so this is a very important reason to test drive your poles before buying. Test different grip types to see what angle and density is most comfortable to you. Grips can be angled forward or completely upright, and some can even extend down the shaft, known as an ‘extended grip’, useful for brief uphill portions. Materials for the grip can include, but are not limited to:

Cork – absorbs vibration well, doesn’t slip with sweat, conforms well to hand shape

Foam – absorbs sweat, most malleable

Rubber – can chafe hands in warm weather but insulates from cold, good shock absorption).

Now that you’ve chosen your hiking poles, ensure you have the correct technique to keep you safe and supported. Or come to Mountain Trek and we’ll show you how–you’ll get lots of practice! Be supported, less prone to injury, and burning more calories out there on the trail with your new hiking poles. And most importantly, have fun!

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Mountain Trek featured in The Wall Street Journal

Mountain Trek featured in The Wall Street Journal

Mountain Trek was featured in the Adventure & Travel section of The Wall Street Journal.

“Embark on a Milder ‘Wild’… Find Calm in Canada.”

The WSJ feature was inspired by Cheryl Strayed’s book ‘Wild‘,  memoirs of her 1000 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. On the tails of her divorce and her mother’s death, she was inspired to take on this trek. Readers empathize with Cheryl’s grief, loss, and quest for sense of self through such a challenge. And while one certainly has the choice of embarking on such an epic journey, one can also choose to find sense of self through hiking, while also relaxing in the lap of luxury. Challenging yourself, while also taking the time out you so deserve.

“Fans of ‘Wild‘ who’d like a quest with some comforts can opt for escapes that come with spa treatments and gourmet picnics.” Alongside other pampering hiking adventures such as Austin Adventures in Utah, Savory Trails of Tuscany in Italy, and Mountain Travels Sobel in Japan our very own Mountain Trek is featured as just one such retreat where you can simultaneously find calm while finding vitality, a “nature infusion, a fitness jump start, or both”.

Click here to read the full story.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Spotlight on Mountain Trek’s British Columbia Location: Nelson and The Kootenays

Picturesque Nelson BCWhether you’re wowed by the Alpine landscapes that surround you, or charmed by the restored Victorian style homes that dot the residential areas and main streets, you are sure to be enamoured with the Kootenay region and the small city of Nelson, in beautiful British Columbia.

Mountain Trek’s Alpine Lodge is nestled away in arguably one of the most picturesque locations in British Columbia. The nearby town of Nelson boasts spectacular scenery; at the foot of pristine Kootenay Lake and seemingly sprinkled along the hillside. But not only is it the place, but the people and our lifestyle and values, that make our area such a unique and wonderful place to be. Perhaps made most famous by Steve Martin in the 80’s classic film ‘Roxanne’, the world found itself wondering; “where is that absolutely gorgeous little mountain town?!”

Nelson and area History

Settled in the late 1800s for the purpose of silver mining, the Nelson area became an attractive option for fortune seeking pioneers. Two railroads were built to support the mining community, as well as a fleet of stern wheelers for easy access to and from all the mining communities along Kootenay Lake. By 1897, the town of Nelson became incorporated with 3,000 inhabitants, and today the population hovers around 10,000 residents.

People & Culture

Nelson has a very unique demographic, beginning with pioneers, miners, orchardists, and forestry workers. In the 60s and 70s, Nelson became home to many ‘draft dodgers’; Americans seeking to avoid military service for the Vietnam war. In the 80s, 90s, and into today, those who are fleeing the big city life and stress come to Nelson. This combination explains Nelson’s eclectic population, generally speaking of liberal mindset and well-educated, and sharing a common thread of lifestyle over work. Coined as the number one ‘Small Town Arts Community’ in Canada, Nelson has a disproportionately high number of artists, writers, as well as spa and health facilities, and markets. Those who embrace an active, outdoor life thrive here. People who live here don’t just talk the talk – we walk the walk, literally! This mindset of health, vitality, and joy in every day pursuits is palpable when you set foot in the beauty of the area.

Arial view of Nelson BC from Pulpit Rock HikeActivities

If you enjoy the great outdoors, there is no better place than the Kootenays to get out and enjoy some fresh air, no matter what the time of year.

Summer pleases hikers, mountain bikers, kayakers, climbers, sailors, any kind of water craft-ers, and even those who just love to soak up some sun at the beach! There are many venues for the rental of any equipment you may need, as well as guides at the ready to take you for a kayak on stunning Kootenay Lake, or a horseback ride on one of the umpteen green trails. A true Hikers’ paradise, there are many trails and maps available for those who want to get out there and explore.

Winter continues the trend for great outdoor time, with the Nelson and area boasting a magnificent snow fall making it a winter play land for cross country, downhill, and heli skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, tobogganing, skating and more.

But the fun in Nelson doesn’t just start and stop with the outdoors. Here is just an idea of what else awaits you in Nelson and area:

  • Nelson Artwalk: During the summer months, local artists are showcased in various locations all over town. Displayed in restaurants and shops, the exhibits rotate each month.
  • Road Kings Classic Car Show: Are you a fan of classic, mint condition cars? If so, then plan for a fantastic weekend in Nelson Friday night kicking things off with an around the town cruise of all these beauties and burnout competition at the airport, while Saturday main street is used to showcase hundreds of beautifully maintained and refurbished classic cars, ending everything off with a rooftop dance. This summer’s Road Kings weekend TBA.
  • Numerous triathlons and fundraiser walks including and not limited to: the AIDS walk for life, Scotiabank MS walk, Cyswog’n Triathlon, and many more, take place in the beautiful parks, recreational facilities, and even just the charm of the residential streets that Nelson has to offer.
  • As was mentioned above, there is a disproportionately high number of spas and wellness centres in the area, so treat yourself to a massage, facial, acupuncture, pedicure, etc…
  • The world’s longest free ferry ride is located on Kootenay Lake, from Balfour to Crawford Bay. With stunning views of Kootenay Lake and alpine vistas all around, it may be a scenic alternate route, or it may just be enjoyable to take the ride!
  • Farmers Markets’ are a huge part of the community of the Kootenays, and can be found most weekends and many weekdays in the small villages and towns of the area. Homemade preserves, fresh and local organic produce, and so much more are readily available.
  • History buff? The S.S. Moyie, located in quaint Kaslo (just up Kootenay Lake from Nelson), is the world’s oldest intact passenger sternwheeler. This National Historical site allows you to step back in time with an on-board museum.

No matter what you’re into, there’s no doubt you’ll find some of what you’re looking for in Nelson and the Kootenays. But don’t take our word for it – come and check out this gem for yourself! We’re sure you’ll love it as much as we do.

Mountain Trek on xoJane.com

Photo credit: Margarita xoJane.com

Photo credit: Margarita xoJane.com

Mountain Trek was recently featured on xoJane.com – a sassy New York based online publication written for women by women.

Writer and Mountain Trek guest Margarita, shares her personal experience of leaving NYC for the mountain ranges of British Columbia.

“There was an introductory lecture, which included words like “tonic,,” “fat flush” “hydro therapy,” and, everybody’s favorite, “toxins.” We concluded the evening with some goat’s whey and a probiotic. I set off for my room, wondering what I got myself into.”



Q&A with Kirkland Shave, Program Director at Mountain Trek – Part II

Kirkland ShaveIn this sixth installment of our Q&A series we bring you part two of our interview with Kirkland Shave, Mountain Trek’s intrepid Program Director, hiking guide, and esteemed lecturer. In our last post, we left off with Kirkland discussing the reasons behind Mountain Trek’s high guest return rate (30-40%).

Kirkland: I had this expectation that once they (guests) come, they’ll get it and they’ll go home and they’ll change. I was so naïve. And then I realized we’re more like a trainer for an Olympic athlete, they still need tweaking and adjusting.

MT: And the tweaking and adjusting is better or easier done back at Mountain Trek?

It’s just so hard out there in a dominant work culture for people to be able to adjust their life to keep a regimen of fitness, nutrition and overall healthy living going all the time. People need to start by incorporating one thing and turn that one thing into a healthy habit. Through my research on will power and habit making I’ve come to realize that habits are formed and work better incrementally. Very few people are at that threshold where they’re ready to just grab onto new information, or habits, or lifestyle changes, and go.

The majority of guests will go home from Mountain Trek and change an eating habit – they’ll start eating breakfast every morning, for instance. And then they’ll return, maybe a year later and when they get back home they’ll start walking after dinner or join a yoga studio. And it’s these incremental habits that they weave into their lifestyle that then become a tipping point that changes their life.

It’s really easy for us to slip into old and sometimes unhealthy habits isn’t it?

It totally is. Up until the 1970s most of us still worked with our bodies. It’s only been a very short time that we’re not able to get our movement needs through work. And with expanded work hours and commute times, it’s almost impossible to find the time to exercise. In the meantime, Mountain Trek is here for people to come in, gain some insights learn about healthy choices.

And rebuild or reboot a healthy lifestyle from there?

Absolutely. Some returning guests come for a reboot and some come for a deeper immersion – a couple of weeks where they can really anchor certain patterns and help set up new habits.

Would you say most guests come to Mountain Trek for weight loss?

Hmm…you could say consciously most are but underneath that many guests are coming because they know that something in the big picture is not working. Weight gain is often a symptom of stress or chronic lack of movement and exercise. Everybody that’s come here has gained weight and lost weight at different times in their lives. People don’t come here and think, okay I’ve got to lose ten pounds just to fit into a wedding dress next week. It’s more to start to create a new, healthy direction for themselves, with the bonus or motivator of some significant change in their weight.

Is there an overall Mountain Trek experience, some special thing that sets you apart from other fitness and weight loss programs?

What I think sets us apart from all the other choices out there around health and weight loss retreats or spas, is our significant immersion in a complex natural world.

Kirkland Shave, Program DirectorWhat exactly do you mean by complex nature?

There’s a lot of research out there about what’s being coined, “the green brain.” This research states that when someone is out in nature there is a drop in the stress hormone cortisol and an increase in the feel-good hormones oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. They bathe the brain and help fight that edgy, depressive, vigilant state that cortisol puts us in. This happens by being in, or even just seeing nature. Even having a picture on your office wall of jungle or complex nature creates a sense of fascination, lowers cortisol and increases oxytocin.

Would you say complex nature is Mountain Trek’s secret ingredient?

Yes! At Mountain Trek we’re outside four hours a day in a complex, ever-changing natural environment. And then our gym and yoga studio and even the drives to the trailheads, all look out at beautiful, green, abundant nature. This is definitely our secret ingredient. Other retreats have gyms, they do yoga, they offer detox, calorie control or sleep health, but they don’t have as complex a natural environment that creates a high level of fascination and hormone adjustment as we do.

How many staff work at Mountain Trek and would you consider them top in their field?

We have about 30 staff and I’m definitely prejudiced when I say they’re top in their field for where we live. But the unique thing about our staff is that they’re not in their 20s or 30s and fresh out of a university health and fitness program. Our staff are mature mountain people.

What do you mean by ‘mountain people’?

People that have chosen to live in the Nelson area for long periods of time because of lifestyle. They ski, mountain bike, hike and climb. They live and breathe being in nature and living a healthy lifestyle. We all eat more plant foods than meat. Some of us are vegetarians. Some have their own yoga practices. So the staff that I’m able to pool here are all highly trained in their disciplines, they all have wilderness first aid certificates, and they all live the type of lifestyle that we try to infuse our guests with.

I know you’re a busy guy, Kirkland, so one last question. Are some guests unable to make it through the program and if so why?

No. There isn’t anybody who can’t make it through. I’ll be honest, there have been one or two that have left prematurely because they didn’t feel that they could make it through, as much as we tried. And they usually leave after the first day because it’s too much of a shock or they’re coming to stop smoking or something that they just weren’t ready to do. Why we have two staff to every one guest is to ensure that each individual person’s needs are met. Even if someone hasn’t exercised in eight years and they’re carrying an extra eighty pounds, we accommodate them.

Okay, great. Thanks for your time Kirkland and good luck with the rest of the season at Mountain Trek.

My pleasure. Thank you.

Q&A with Kirkland Shave, Program Director of Mountain Trek – Part I

Kirkland Shave Program Director Mountain TrekIn the fifth instalment of our Q&A series we veer slightly from the path and, instead of interviewing a Mountain Trek guest, we thought we’d give you a peek behind the curtain and sit down for a chat with our very own Kirkland Shave.

Kirkland is a Nelson, BC, resident and has been Program Director and Manager of Mountain Trek since 2004. Not only is he a hiker extraordinaire he also plays bass guitar in his son’s band and he’s one of Mountain Trek’s most popular, poignant and engaging lecturers.

Hi Kirkland. Thanks for taking time out of your busy Mountain Trek schedule to talk with us. Let’s start with your professional and personal background and what led you to Mountain Trek?

A culmination of a variety of work and life experiences led me here. Let me back up a bit though. As a teen I started looking at alternative ways of living. I started meditating, I became a vegetarian, and I started shifting away from team sports to outdoor recreation activities. I did martial arts, yoga, and later I became a yoga instructor. I have a teaching degree and a degree in Anthropology, and for a long time I was a local British Columbia Park Ranger. Following that I started running my own wilderness and primitive skills school. Then, about 11 years ago, the original owner at Mountain Trek hired me to come out and teach these wilderness skills one day a week for a few summers. From there, because of my ranger and yoga experience, I became a hiking guide and yoga instructor at Mountain Trek.

Soon thereafter, the owner asked a dietician, kinesiologist and myself to build a weight loss program. Back around 2000 the obesity epidemic was in the news a lot so we got rid of our recreation program at Mountain Trek and started this weight loss program. But through our own knowledge base we basically turned it into a metabolism-raising program with weight loss being a by-product. It became popular very quickly and just took off from there.


Would you say that your job with Mountain Trek has been your most fulfilling one?

Absolutely because I’ve always loved nature and working outside and now I get to take people into nature… and I get to introduce people to a healthy consciousness about their body and what it means to possess emotional well-being. I’m also trained as a life coach so this is where I can focus in on what’s stressing people and how this affects their well being.

You love working with people in the outdoors, and the Mountain Trek lodge is certainly surrounded by breath-taking nature. What would you say is the profile of the average Mountain Trek guest?

They are all primarily urban, corporate North Americans. About 75% women and 25% men. The average age for a woman would be 42 and for men about 50. Men tend to be a little bit slower in paying attention to their body or health concerns, whereas women are a bit more finely attuned that way.

Are the guests already familiar with the great outdoors?

Most of them have not hiked before. I would consider them hard working professionals and traditionalists. And by traditionalist I mean they don’t regularly eat tofu, for example, or practice yoga. In fact 90% of our guests have never done yoga before. So we’re taking these professionals and opening the door, so-to-speak, so they can see other ways of living that promote more health and longevity for them…ways of living that they can weave into their lifestyle.

Does this mean that relatively fit young men and women need not go to Mountain Trek?

Not necessarily. What happens is that through sendentarism, sitting at work, commuting in a car, etc, our bodies move into a catabolic state – we become slower and suffer chronic inflammation that affects our hormones. This domino effect on all aspects of our health starts to build as we age so that people in their 40s and 50s start to feel the cumulative effects of this sedentary work life more so.

People in their 20s and 30s still have an anabolic metabolism. But even with this age group we’re noticing that the catabolic shift is happening at a younger and younger age. People come out of university and get right into a job where they tend to sit all day. We gain weight, have chronic sleep issues, less energy and vitality and on and on to worse things like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and thyroid problems.

So, to answer your question, we could target younger people but they don’t quite see the need as acutely as someone who’s a little bit older. Nor do they typically have the money. You know, it’s a health investment and a lot of 20 or 30 year olds would rather go on a trip to Paris for a week or two…

Or Thailand…

Yeah, or Thailand.

A one or two week program at Mountain Trek is rewarding but it takes dedication. People seek out the program not only to lose weight and change their metabolism but also to kickstart an entire lifestyle makeover. That can be emotionally challenging. Do your guests ever come back, or is once enough for them?

Actually, we get a big return rate – 30% to 40% are returnees in any given week. Going back about six years though, I thought something about the program was failing. I wondered why our guests kept coming back. I had this expectation that once they came, they’ll get it and they’ll go home and they’ll change. But now I realize it’s important that people “check in” with us regularly, and get back on track. They need what I call “Mountain Trek’s magic ingredient.”

In part 2 of our Q&A with Kirkland Shave, we find out the reason for Mountain Trek’s high return rate, discover whether guests have ever left the retreat without completing the program and learn more about the retreat’s “magic ingredient.” 

Have a ball with Mountain Trek’s top 5 exercise ball routines

women on an exercise ball

If you’re feeling the need to get back in shape, or in better shape for the Fall season, a simple and effective starting point is to try some routines with an exercise ball. Whether you want to improve your cardio for the hiking or biking trails, revitalize your endurance or just feel like you want to tone-up, then strengthening your core muscles is the first essential step.

Core muscles are crucial for stability and good posture but are sadly overlooked when exercising with exercise machines typically found in gyms. The body responds to the instability of a ball on a minute level by trying to remain balanced, thereby engaging many more muscles than if you were to just use fixed equipment.

How to find the right exercise ball for you

The best thing about ball exercises is you don’t need any expensive equipment – just a good quality ball filled with air. However, some ball exercises will require you to equip yourself with a pair of dumbbells or a workout bench, depending on how serious you want to get.

Constructed of soft, elastic material (usually plastic), most balls range in diameter between 14 to 35 inches (35 to 85cm). In order to size an exercise ball to your body correctly stand next to it and it ensure it is even with, or slightly above, your knee level. Alternately, sit on it and ensure your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and your thighs are parallel or even with the floor.

The best exercise ball routines

1. Ball push-up (feet up)

Set your quads on top of the ball far enough forward so that your pelvis is not touching the ball. In this position begin sets of regular push-ups. Using an exercise ball allows you to target the core muscles on top of the usual chest and triceps muscles. Also this lets you concentrate on your upper pectoral muscles since you’re essentially in an incline workout position.

2. Ball Sit-up

From a squat position in front of the ball (back to ball), gently ease back onto the ball. Your bum and lower back should be resting on the ball. In this position (with hands behind your head) begin sets of sit-ups, leaning back and curving over the ball as far as is comfortable, and raising to about a 45-degree angle. This exercise mainly targets the abdominal muscles but it is also very effective at working other core muscles. Specifically, it will allow you to exercise the upper abdominals as well as the hips muscles.

3. Ball squat (one-legged)

Standing about a foot and a half in front of the ball with your back to it, place the top of your foot/shin onto the ball behind you. Lower yourself so that your front thigh comes to a 90 degree angle to the floor. Then raise to standing again. Repeat a number of times and switch legs. The Ball Squat will primarily target your quadriceps as well as your buttocks. Doing the squat using an exercise ball will make sure you develop stabilizing muscles in your thighs as well.

4. Ball arm-leg extension (alternating)

Drape your belly and chest over the top of the ball. Your feet should be touching the ground. Engage your core muscles by gently lifting your head to a level position with the floor. From here keep your core engaged while lifting one leg and opposing arm (e.g. right leg, left arm) to about a 90-degree angle to the floor. Repeat a number of times and switch legs/arms. This is an excellent exercise that will target most of the muscle groups in your body, specifically your upper and lower back muscles as well as your hamstrings and your buttock muscles.

5. Ball jack-knife

Place the tips of your toes on top of the ball. Position your arms (in a push-up position) about two feet in front of the ball. Roll the ball towards your upper body, with your bum jack-knifing up into the air (almost like a starting sprint position). Bend slightly at the elbows during each roll forward of the ball. This exercise is an excellent way to target your abdominal muscles and your hips but it’s important you to maintain good upper body posture (keep your back and arms straight).

Proper technique

It’s very important to maintain proper body posture when doing a routine with an exercise ball. This means keeping your back straight and preventing your knees from locking. Also, remember to breathe properly – being aware of one’s breathing process is essential to obtaining good results when training with exercise balls. And, as always, make sure to warm up before engaging in demanding physical activity.

In order to ensure perfect technique, consider having an experienced trainer help you with your first few exercises. Or, join Mountain Trek for our reboot and prevention program and let our expert fitness instructors guide you through their favourite ball exercises and routines– a perfect compliment to all the beautiful hikes you’ll be going on!



Best Kootenay Hikes | Mountain Trek’s Staff Picks

Spring Hiking Health Program

One of the key features of the Mountain Trek experience is hiking in nature. Our beautiful lodge in Ainsworth, British Columbia, is surrounded by the majestic, snow-capped peaks of the Purcell and Selkirk Mountain ranges. The area is replete with ghost towns, mossy trails, and clear-flowing streams that feed the stunning, 100-kilometer long Kootenay Lake.

So as homage to the abundant nature that surrounds us, we share our favorite Kootenay hikes. These hikes are meant to challenge and motivate you, get your heart rate up, and set your spirit soaring.

Monica Meadows


There are fewer trails in the world that offer such relatively easy access for such a great pay off. Monica Meadows, located in the Purcell Mountain Range, is one of the most stunning locations in southern British Columbia. With vast meadows, shallow lakes, vibrant larches, gorgeous alpine flowers, and views of the surrounding peaks and ridges. Monica Meadows is a haven of calm beauty encircled by rocky mountains. An 8-kilometer hike from the trailhead, through cool forests, and along boulder-strewn pathways will get you there in no time so we can rest, enjoy the views and even go swimming before our return.

Idaho Peak


This is a moderate hike that takes you to some of the best views and most abundant wildflowers in southern British Columbia. We begin our hike at the ghost town of Sandon, then wind our way up along old mining trails and logging paths before reaching the viewpoint. Once there you’ll enjoy gazing down at the town of New Denver on Slocan Lake below, as well as breathtaking views of New Denver Glacier, the Valhalla Mountain range, Kokanee Glacier, and Mt. Cooper.

Evans Creek

View Of Slocan Lake

From the trailhead at Slocan City, you’ll hike on the undulating, moss-lined trail along the shoreline of Slocan Lake. On the way, you can expect spectacular rocky vantage points, special pockets of flora, and prime swimming spots. Round trip, the Evans hike is approximately 15 km (18 km if we make it to Evans Lake) and includes a lot of Ponderosa pine, juniper, white cedar, and fir trees befitting the drier climate zone. There are some fun rock ledges to clamber out onto to take in the beautiful views up and down the lake. Knowing that the surrounding Valhalla majestic peaks were named after Norse Gods makes the Evans Creek hike that much more mythic.

Galena Trail

Galena Bay Abandoned Mining Site

This is one of the most popular hikes in the Slocan Valley. The Galena Trail follows the route of a railway line that dates back to the glory days of Silvery Slocan. It once connected the silver mines of Sandon via sternwheeler service from Nakusp to the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline at Revelstoke. The rail beds were abandoned over 100 years ago and Mother Nature has reclaimed much of the existing corridors. This historic trail follows the old railway line, passed the ruins of abandoned mines and ghost towns like Alamo. Occasionally, we’ll even take the two-person cable car crossing over Carpenter Creek along the way.

Kokanee Glacier Park

Kokanee Lake in Kokanee Glacier Park

Located just west of the Mountain Trek Lodge, the beautiful Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park offers an incredible alpine experience with very little effort. The park is one of the oldest in the province and boasts no less than three glaciers, including Kokanee, Caribou, and Woodbury. These glaciers feed over 30 lakes and are the headwaters of many creeks. On a typical hike, we’ll visit two of those lakes, Gibson and Kaslo, with water so clear you’ll be able to watch rainbow and cutthroat trout swimming by. The trail is about 14 kilometers round trip and guests will enjoy views of the surrounding peaks, glaciers, and sub-alpine flower meadows. Depending on the season, we’ll also see eagles, ptarmigan, pikas, marmots, mountain goats, and feast on wild huckleberries.

Pilot Peninsula

Pilot Peninsula Park

Pilot Peninsula Provincial Park is the safest harbor on Kootenay Lake and is perfect for swimming and hiking. The trail we typically take skirts the shoreline of Kootenay Lake and offers multiple pebble beaches. In fact, Pilot Peninsula is a great start to our week as it’s very flat, with hardly any elevation gain or loss. We won’t bag any peaks on this trail but it’s still an incredible foray into some stunning BC wilderness that includes tall stands of aspen, colorful wildflowers, calm coves, and around every corner, views of the surrounding peaks.

When it comes to healthy living, our philosophies are rooted in nature as well – from our locally sourced, organic meals that nourish your body to the core content of our inspiring lectures, to the many stunning, butt-toning hikes we go on every day. We hope you can join us on some of the best Kootenay hikes.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

14 Hacks To Ensure the Best Travel/Trek Experience Ever

geisha in a yellow field holding a paper craneWhen Mountain Trek visited Peru last Spring, we found the following list in one of the beautiful lodges we stayed at. It includes 14 tips for ensuring you have the best travel and trekking experience ever. We thought there was some good wisdom in it that should be shared, especially now that we’re offering pre-registration for our 2014 Spring Hiking Vacation in Japan. On that trip we’ll be exploring the Tokaido (the traditional path of the Shogun), the Shikoku Temples, the world-famous vine bridges and we’ll be relaxing in Onsens every night. (An Onsen is a traditional hot spring accommodation.) Click here and tick the box at the bottom of the page if you would like more information regarding our Japan adventure in 2014.

In the meantime, enjoy these poignant pieces of advice and think of them when you pack your bags to explore the beauties of your own country or to travel around the world.

Travel lightly

You are not travelling for people to see you

Travel slowly

Jet planes are for getting places, not seeing places: take time to absorb the beauty and inspiration of a mountain or temple.

Travel expectantly

Every place you visit is like a surprise package to be opened. Untie the strings with an expectation of high adventure.

Travel hopefully

“To travel hopefully is better than to arrive,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson.

Travel humbly

Visit people and places with reverence and respect for their traditions and ways of life.

Travel courteously

Consideration for your fellow travellers and your hosts will smooth the way through the most difficult days

Peru Adventure Trek

Peru Adventure Trek

Travel gratefully

Show appreciation for the many things that are being done by others for your enjoyment and comfort.

Travel with an open mind

Leave your prejudices at home.

Travel with curiosity

It is not how far you go, but how deeply you go that mines the gold of experience. Remember that Thoreau wrote a big book about the very tiny Walden Pond.

Travel with imagination

As the Spanish proverb goes, “He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.”

Travel fearlessly

Banish worry and timidity; the world and its people belong to you just as you belong to the world.

Travel relaxed

Make up your mind to have a good time and let go.

Travel patiently

It takes time to understand others, especially when there are barriers of language and custom. Keep flexible and adaptable to all situations.

Travel with the spirit of a world citizen

You’ll discover that people are basically much the same the world around. Be an ambassador of good will to all people.

Cherry Blossoms in Japan+ 6 Bonus Tips:

  • Always pause, at least for 15 seconds and take it all in. The destination is only as beautiful as the journey.
  • Make an effort to associate your feelings of peace and tranquility with a landmark on the trip. This will come in handy when you are back home.
  • Think about your loved ones. If you are with them, share and bond. If they are not with you, lend them your senses.
  • Learn with every footstep, every word, every sense.
  • Look up at the sky at night at least once. Try to understand how ancient civilizations guided themselves by this.
  • Let go, at least once during your trip. Do something you would not normally do.