|Get Into The Backcountry...|
One of Nelsons most spectacular attractions is the wild backcountry that stretches in all directions from its doorstep. Hundreds of kilometres of hiking and mountain biking trails start within minutes of town, reaching far back along the regions rugged mountains. Lakes twist in each valley below, offering endless shorelines to discover by boat. And every winter, the peaks and slopes are turned to pillows of champagne powder, an endless playground for skis, snowboards, and snowmobile.
Known for its unspoiled and private settings, Nelson's outdoors plays host to a myriad of activities all year round. In summer time enjoy a variety of campgrounds in the Nelson area. Private, municipal, provincial, and Forest Service recreation sites are accessible by vehicle, boat, or foot.
Hiking is probably the most popular outdoor recreation Nelson has to offer. There are more trails just above town that can be named. And thats just the start. The Ministry of Forests has developed a vast series of recreation trails that stretch throughout the farthest reaches of the West Kootenay.
Nelson Mountain Biking
Rising from the shores of Kootenay Lake's West Arm, the area's steep mountains are a source of inspiration for the hard-core mountain biker. Once you've had a chance to ride the area's many challenging trails, you'll recognize that the Nelson area is, indeed, mountain biking heaven.
If steep single-track mountain biking is more your speed, most of the trails around Nelson are accessed from Svoboda Road, Mountain Station Road, and along Giveout Creek FSR. All of these areas are generally multi-use, so look out for hikers and horse back riders on the trail.
For a more mellow ride, Sproule Creek offers a nice, gradual 5 km trail that almost anyone can ride. There is also the rail grade that runs above Nelson. This trail has had the rails pulled and should soon form part of the Kootenay Loop section of the Trans Canada Trail, connecting Castlegar to Salmo through Nelson.
Paddlers have a virtually unlimited playground to explore in the Nelson area, thanks to the clear waters of Kootenay Lake. You can access the water right from town. Downstream (west) will draw you through the Grohman Narrows, past the Taghum Bridge and into the mouth of the Kootenay River. This route unfortunately ends after about 15 kms when you reach the Corra Linn dam. Upstream opens into a wider, more populated series of bays with shorelines dotted with magnificent mansions, and quaint bungalows. If you go far enough, you will pass Balfour and enter the main body of Kootenay Lake.
Come winter time, the snow no longer shuts down the mountains to travel as it did in years gone by. Today, the dry, fluffy powder, which falls for almost six consecutive months, brings it to life with the sounds of adventure. Most people head out to the local Whitewater Ski Resort to ride their lifts to the top and their groomed runs and extensive backcountry trails back down.
For the more adventurous, the Kootenays offer an unlimited amount of terrain to play in. Ski touring, snow boarding, and telemarking can be done virtually anywhere here. But there is some information on established routes, boot packs, and snow conditions that is vital to any winter adventure. And there are some places that have such magical pitches and descents, that they cannot be found by chance. Some of these places can be easily accessed up the Whitewater Resort road and in the Stagleap Park at the top of the Kootenay Pass. Others you will need to be introduced to personally, by a guide. All of these activities are very dangerous and should not be attempted by novice users. Find a guide to take you if you can. Otherwise, proceed with caution and take bear spray, extra food and clothing with you every time.
If youre heading out in winter, learn about the way snow behaves on slopes before you go. Avalanche safety courses are offered in Nelson throughout the winter, and are a must before any expedition. Avalanche updates can be accessed at the Canadian Avalanche Societys website.