After leaving the Nakusp, we drove all the way to Nelson. We spent a bit of time discovering the downtown area and sampling the local food and coffee. We took a long stroll along the paths following the water and leading to the beach, just past the marina. We slept on a logging road a few km out of downtown and woke up early for our next day, as we had planned on doing a big hike in Kokanee Glacier Park.
We did the Gibson Lake Trail to Kaslo Lake hike and it was so worth it! My main concern was the road to get to the trailhead – luckily it had been graded not long ago and had been maintained very well, and conditions were dry at the time of our visit. With my Honda Odyssey, I try to avoid taking too many risks with the roads. This road is 4WD recommended, but from reading all of the reviews and comments online, I felt confident that we could make it all the way… so we tried… and we did! I drove very slowly and carefully, which added quite a bit of time to our driving time that day, but it was good. There was one spot towards the top where I worried I could hit the bottom, but we made it through okay on the way up. Driving down, I did hit in this particular spot, but driving very carefully I made it back down just fine. We saw a few other 2WD with low clearance stopped on the side in various places, where people figured out they couldn’t make it and decided to hike up the rest of the way.. Just take your time, and in doubt, turn around!
Once at the top, we started on our 18km round-trip, 730m of elevation gain journey from Gibson Lake to Kaslo Lake. The first portion of the trail descents a little bit until you reach Kokanee Lake. The views are beautiful the entire time and you get to see different alpine meadows and wild flowers all around.
Once at Kokanee Lake, you will head towards the left of the lake and start going through a long boulders field. The other side of the lake opens up on a large alpine meadow. Keep following the very well-marked trail all the way to Keen Lake.
A few kilometers after, you will find Kaslo Lake with the Alpine Club of Canada cabin there. The cabin is very well-maintained but opened only for guests with previous bookings. At Kaslo you will see a sign to head right towards the Slocan Chief Cabin – I wish we had time to go up there and check it out (just 1.3km further) as I heard really good things about this area… However after a few hours of hiking we wanted to make it back to the car early enough to go down the long, bumpy dirt road and hit the road to find our next campsite!
We ended up having to drive quite a while to find another rec site that wasn’t already full. We drove all the way to the Goat River Recreation Site, East of Creston on a gravel road. The sites were free, but full when we arrived. Luckily, the sites were massive and we found a young couple from Alberta who was willing to share their spot with us for the evening.
Next stop – Fernie!