Kimbol Lake Trail

Kimbol Lake Trail

Rating: Moderate 
Distance: 4 km one way from trailhead (5 km from parking lot)
Time: 5-hour return trip 
Surface: Compact dirt, tree roots
Modes: Hiking

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Trail Description

The Kimbol Lake Trail provides a great low elevation hike in late spring, summer or fall. The first leg of the journey follows the 0.8 km trail to the Hot Springs’ source (GPS Point 1 on the map), the site of the original hot springs resort. Cement forms remain where once sat the pools to which tourists trekked by packhorse from the paddlewheelers docked in Nakusp. Poison ivy, uncharacteristic in the area, thrives on the open ground at the source. 

In the far southeast corner of the clearing, a brown sign marks the beginning of the Kimbol Lake Trail. Immediately the trail begins a steep climb, but levels out 50 metres later to amble through stately stands of cedar and hemlock, with a rich undergrowth of Devil’s club, huckleberries and ferns (GPS Point 2). As the trail winds deeper up the Kuskanax River valley, the cedar/hemlock forest remains uniform, with abundant underbrush where logging or blow-down enables more sunlight to penetrate the canopy of trees. 

The trail grade is slight at first, but, as the trail dips down to cross numerous creeks and draws, there are steep pitches; a 40% grade is the steepest. About half way there, the trail crosses an old logging road (GPS Point 3), which provides a view of the old growth “Cedar Grove” across the valley. The trail then climbs steadily up and around the mountainside (GPS Point 4), as it enters the small Kimbol Lake valley, where it again levels off. A watchful eye on the steep trail sections will help avoid their exposed tree roots and loose rocks. 

Cresting the hill and entering the Kimbol Lake valley, the relationship between geography and biology is profound, as here the flatter, moister land hosts magnificent trees and a rich undergrowth layer (GPS Point 5). Devil’s club thrives due to the underground drainage from Kimbol Lake; rhododendron and huckleberries are abundant too. Excellent habitat for bears and other large mammals results from the plentiful berries and roots, ample drinking water and prime den sites amongst tree roots and the rockslide boulders. 

The trail winds toward Kimbol Lake for the last half kilometre, accessing its western shore from the rocky talus slope (GPS Point 6). Here, some time for a rest, lunch or casting for small rainbow trout or mountain whitefish is in order. A walk around the lake will reveal an old trapper’s cabin at the southeastern end of the lake. Wilson Lake Road provides access to Horseshoe Lake.  From there to Kimbol Lake the road is very rough and motor vehicles are not recommended. After enjoying the scenery, the walk back to the Hot Springs leads to a relaxing and well-deserved soak.


To access Kimbol Lake Trail, drive north from Nakusp on Highway 23, toward Revelstoke. About 2 km from town, turn right onto Hot Springs Road, and follow the road for 12 kilometres to the Nakusp Hot Springs. Park here, and follow the wide trail leading from the northeastern end of the parking lot; the trail crosses the timber frame bridge over Kuskanax Creek, climbs the rocks and forks a hundred metres further along. Take the left fork, which leads to the hot springs source and the brown Kimbol Lake Trail marker on the far side of the clear (0.8 km from the parking lot).

Modes of Use

Because of its steep pitches (up to 40%) and occasional muddy patches, Kimbol Lake trail is traveled on foot.


The Kimbol Lake trail was established by the Ministry of Forests as a recreation trail. The lake was stocked periodically with Rainbow trout until 1987. The cabin at the far end of the lake attests to the lake and surrounding area’s historical use for hunting and trapping.

If You Liked This Trail

If you enjoyed the Kimbol Lake Trail, try the Nakusp Hot Springs trail. Nearby ascents include Kuskanax Mountain and Saddle Mountain Lookout trails.

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