Kooteney National Park
Time: 1 1/2 hours
Distance: 5.5 km (return)
Elevation Gain: 150 m
How To Get There: From Radium, drive east on Highway 93 until just before you reach the Kootenay lookout. There isn't a sign indicating where to pull over but there is a trailhead sign that gives information on the trail once you figure out where you're supposed to stop.
The original plan had been for Kim and me to hike Sinclair-Kindersley Trail but unfortunately there was a restriction on that hike because of the bear activity. You needed a group of four or more and it was just the two of us. We could have waited around to see if any other hikers would join us but we didn't feel like sitting around for an unknown amount of time. Luckily I had a back-up plan of the much easier and shorter hike to Cobbe Lake.
So we drove a little further up highway 93, drove past the trail head, drove back around, asked a park ranger where the trail head was and then finally found the trail head. It's sad that Kootenay National Park gets so little funding compared to it's neighbor Banff because this often means there aren't any clear signs pointing you in the right direction. And Kootenay really does have so much to offer. Hopefully this will change in the future.
The trail was incredibly laid back with lots of shade and trees. The trail started off with switchbacks going down into the valley. Once you reach the bottom of the valley, you go across a tiny bridge that crosses over a clear stream.
Immeditately after the bridge the trail started ascending back up the other side of the valley. There weren't many switchbacks going this way and after a short hike upwards, we finally made it to the marshy lake. It was a really quaint and quiet spot so Kim and I stopped for lunch.
There were so many mushrooms along the way and there was a really big one that stood right beside us as we ate.
Another family was at the lake but other than that we had the place to ourselves. The lake itself isn't anything special and there isn't really any options of hiking further along the shores as the trail ends as soon as you get to the lake. So after a brief siesta after lunch we started to head back.
I was mesmerized by all of the different berries along the trail! We even had the fortune of plucking up a few wild raspberries.
I started wondering if we would run into any bears because we had a) forgotten our bear spray so that's just the luck of it and b) there were so many berries around and it was getting to be a bit later in the season. Sure enough, as soon as we got back to our vehicle, a pair of Dutch tourists walked over to us and said that they thought they had spotted a bear. We walked over to investigate and about 50 yards away a small black bear was sitting on its butt, enjoying some foliage on a tree.
The cute thing paid us no mind as we all started snapping pictures (staying close to our vehicles and keeping a respectible distance). It was really cool and the people from Holland were on their last day of their trip to Canada so they were really excited to see a bear. It was kind of cool to be able to answer all of their questions in regards to the animal.
If you want to take a quick stroll or you want to find a good trail for your younger children, this is definitely a great hike. However, if you're looking for a challenge or a view, I wouldn't bother with this hike. Regardless, the bear provided Kim and I with a good trail ending!