A Trip Along the Rockwall Trail

In early September 2020, Judy and I did a four-day, 50-kilometre backpack around the northern loop of the famous Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park; plus a side trip to Goodsir Pass.

Judy Lett crossing Vermillion River
Judy Lett crossing Vermillion River. Watch the video that showcases Day 1 of the Rockwall Trail trip: https://youtu.be/7e0QudJmf50

The first day took us along the well-named Ochre Creek, past the ‘Paint Pots’ feature where ochre mining used to take place, on to the confluence with Helmet Creek and thence to the Helmet Falls campsite. Fifteen kilometres in all and starting around noon with full backpacks, it was a demanding hike that got us to the campsite just an hour before dark. The many avalanche paths on the first and last days of this hike kept us alert for grizzly bears.

Day 1 - Rockwall Trail

Day-2 was an easier day hike up to Goodsir Pass, with its classic view of several ten and eleven-thousanders following a gorgeous stroll through higher elevation Larch forests. It was better than the more popular nearby Lake O’Hara, we felt. On the way back we were lucky to see a curious Long-tailed weasel in a Larch tree.

Day 2 of Rockwall Trail trip
Trekking Goodsir Pass on Day 2 of the Rockwall Trail trip. (All photos are provided through an excerpt from all four trip videos, supplied by Mike Nash).

The third day saw us on the 13-kilometre high traverse along the Rockwall Trail from Helmet Falls, beneath the northern end of the Rockwall, through many kilometres of Larch forests and across the Wolverine Pass meadows that are reminiscent of a scene from the Alps. A steep descent late in the day brought us to the large, sprawling Tumbling Creek campsite where it can be a challenge to find the exit trail amid the maze of campsite paths. Although the campsites were busy, we pretty much had the trails to ourselves as people spread out during the day. The final day was down the steep-sided Tumbling Creek with its many avalanche paths, waterfalls and occasional bear sign.

All in all, this was without a doubt one of the finest backpacking hikes that we have done and we highly recommend it. And, we only saw a part of the area, as the Rockwall Trail continues south to Floe Lake with several exit options out to the highway. We have compiled the four days into four YouTube episodes.

View one or all four episodes here.(All four videos are a total of 28 min.)

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