Guidebook

The Rockwall Trek in Kootenay National Park

The best multi-day hike in Kootenay, through high meadows and deep forest beneath a towering wall of rock and ice.

Description

The Rockwall is the premier trek of Kootenay National Park, described as a “superlative-laden feast” by Parks Canada. The namesake Rockwall is a sheer and nearly continuous limestone escarpment, comprised of several peaks of the Vermilion Range. The Rockwall Trail parallels the base of this cliff, crossing three main passes and dipping into drainages between. Thus, it’s a brutal but rewarding journey of ups and downs in the wildest of Kootenay’s backcountry.

Highlights include the reflective water of Floe Lake beneath a massive cliff face, subalpine meadows at eye level with hanging glaciers, a 350-metre-tall double waterfall, and of course, the ever-present spectacle of the Rockwall itself, always looming overhead. Besides the scenery, there is the simple satisfaction of nights spent deep in the backcountry, next to alpine lakes and rushing streams, which this trek has no shortage of.

The route connects Paint Pots trailhead with Floe Lake trailhead, spanning 55 km and typically taking 3-5 days. Other trailheads along Highway 93 serve as intermediate access, however, allowing for shorter variations. Included here is the full trek, divided into segments between each of the five campgrounds. These are all backcountry sites with primitive amenities, and they require a wilderness pass from the national park.

The Rockwall: Helmet-Ochre Junction
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The Rockwall: Helmet-Ochre Junction

6.1 km
212 m
144 m
An easy overnight backpacking trip, or one end of the difficult Rockwall trek.
Moderate
Private
The Rockwall: Helmet Creek to Helmet Falls
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The Rockwall: Helmet Creek to Helmet Falls

8.2 km
408 m
154 m
Hike to a backcountry campground near a huge, double-forked waterfall along The Rockwall trek.
Moderate
Private
The Rockwall: Helmet Falls to Tumbling Creek
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The Rockwall: Helmet Falls to Tumbling Creek

11.7 km
713 m
576 m
With steep switchbacks at either end, this stage undulates through larch groves and meadows, and passes the only gap in the Rockwall.
Difficult
Private
The Rockwall: Tumbling Creek to Numa Creek
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The Rockwall: Tumbling Creek to Numa Creek

7.5 km
379 m
729 m
Between Tumbling and Numa Creek camps you’ll cross steep avalanche slopes and a high pass with breathtaking views of the Rockwall.
Difficult
Private
The Rockwall: Numa Creek to Floe Lake
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The Rockwall: Numa Creek to Floe Lake

9.4 km
812 m
319 m
Up and over Numa Pass, the highpoint of the Rockwall Trek.
Difficult
Private
The Rockwall: Floe Lake
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The Rockwall: Floe Lake

10.0 km
176 m
867 m
The southern terminus of the Rockwall trek, or an excellent overnight backpacking trip with a lakeside campground.
Difficult
Private