Hot Springs Trail

Hot Springs Trail

Rating: Easy-moderate hiking 
Distance: 8.5 km, one way 
Time: 3 hrs 
Surface: Compact dirt, some rock, tree roots
Modes of Use: Hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing

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Trail Description

This all-season trail provides great spring, summer and fall hiking, horseback riding and some winter snowshoeing. The trail meanders along the side slope above Kuskanax Creek from just outside Nakusp up the valley to the Nakusp Hot Springs, following the pioneers’ original packhorse route of 1912. 

The first three or four kms wander through lofty cedar and hemlock stands, which thrive in the ideal moist habitat created by rain from eastbound clouds crossing the Selkirk Mountains. Under the towering canopy exists a diverse undergrowth of mosses, western yew, devil’s 

club, huckleberry, oak fern, lady fern, maidenhair fern and smaller wild ginger, sarsaparilla, fairy slipper, queen’s cup and wintergreen. 

Remnants of burnt out tree stumps stand like sentinel ghosts from times past, providing evidence of the natural fires that used to regularly sweep through BC’s interior valleys. Recent logging near the beginning of the trail attempted to minimize the impact of the small clear-cut harvest to the trail’s integrity. 

An hour’s hiking leads to the bluffs, laden with maidenhair ferns and ginger, where views extend to the creek far below and to Upper Arrow Lake (GPS point 2 on the map). Continuing on through the forest, wooden bridges cross the many small creeks. Upon approaching the next rest stop (GPS point 3), decadent hemlock, fir and cedar tower nearly 40 metres above, shading the forest floor and creating a magnificent, mossy bowl. Marshy ground is criss-crossed with boardwalks; hanging moss gardens dangle from elevated tree branches, and overgrown trail-blazes display more evidence of the trail’s history. 

Further up the valley, a keen eye will spot the Nakusp Hot Springs across Kuskanax Creek (GPS Point 4). After passing a rundown cabin and corral, the trail branches to the hot springs source (0.8 kms) and the Kimbol Lake trail (GPS Point 5). For a therapeutic soak, cross the timber frame bridge over Kuskanax Creek, and follow the path to the Nakusp Hot Springs.


For convenience, shuttle a second vehicle to the Nakusp Hot Springs before you begin hiking or arrange to be picked up about 4 hours after you begin hiking. 

From Nakusp, head south on Highway 6 toward Nelson for 2 km. Turn left onto Alexander Road at Hilltop Convenience Store, drive for 2.3 kms to the brown Hot Springs Trail Sign on the right. Follow the logging road for 1.4 km to a fork, veer right and bump along until the next fork, then head to the left. After the first 1.4 km, the road is quite overgrown and rough, park at the fork if you are wary of your paint or suspension. From the parking area, follow the path through the logged area to the trailhead (GPS Point 1).

Modes of Use

Summer—With a slight elevation gain, few steep pitches and a well built trail, this hike is ideal for many ages and abilities. Be sure to prepare youngsters or inexperienced hikers for a long walk. Steep side-slopes and narrow trails can be challenging for riders and walkers; horseback riding is rated moderate to difficult. 

Winter—As trail access is poor in winter, begin and end snowshoeing excursions at the hot springs. Be aware that cell service is unreliable and plan accordingly.


In the 30s and 40s, pack horse caravans met tourists at the docks in Nakusp and spirited them away to soak in the hot spring’s famous mineral waters. This trail follows their route as far as the turn off to the source, where the original hot springs getaway was situated. For more information on the history of this trail check out the displays at the Nakusp & District Museum, or dig into history at the Arrow Lakes Archives.

Trail & Access Condition Report as of February 24, 2024

The Hot Springs Trail is walkable using snowshoes or boot chains. Most the trail is hard packed but slippery. Take care crossing footbridges and wooden walkways. The lower access road from Alexander Road is 4×4 only at this time of year.

If You Liked This Trail

If you liked the Hot Springs Trail, try the Saddle Mountain Trail.

Stay Safe Out There!

  • Familiarize yourself with Leave No Trace principles 
  • Check the weather forecast and trail conditions, and plan accordingly
  • Be prepared to be in areas without cell service
  • Stay on designated trails and share with others
  • Cyclists and ATVs yield to everyone and hikers yield to horses
  • Be prepared for hiking – have solid walking shoes/boots, water and nutritious food, first aid supplies, comfortable clothing (including layers) that’s appropriate for the weather
  • Prepare for the unexpected
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return
  • Make noise (sing, talk, clap) to alert wildlife
  • Travel in pairs or groups and keep kids in sight at all times
  • Keep pets under control, keep them at home if not allowed on certain trails, and be aware they may pose a hazard with backcountry wildlife

Use this information at your own risk. Trail users assume all responsibility for personal injury or damage to equipment. 

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The Trails of Nakusp brochure series was originally produced for the Nakusp & District Chamber of Commerce, by Hailstorm Ridge Environmental Services & Kootenay Virtual Tours, who jointly retain copyright.

Project funding came from a 2003 Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives Grant. 

Many thanks to True North Forestry Consulting Ltd., Pope & Talbot Ltd., Slocan Forest Products and the Ministry of Forests for their various contributions to the project.

Nakusp & District Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre, 92 – 6th Ave NW

Box 387, Nakusp, BC V0G 1R0

2023 Updates provided by the Nakusp and Area Community Trails Society