5 Epic BC Hot Springs Hikes

British Columbia is known for its ancient temperate rainforests, snow-dusted peaks, and some of the best natural geothermal pools in Canada. Scattered throughout the province, some hot springs can be reached by car, other undeveloped hot springs are so remote they’re only accessible by boat or helicopter, and even more require an enduring hike and some clambering over rocks to get to. But all come with scenic locations, whether they’re tucked deep in the Canadian Rockies or perched on the edge of a cliff. If relaxing and rejuvenating in nature’s hot tub is your idea of a perfect getaway, here are five BC hot springs you can’t miss.

Photo by Pat Williams

Hot Spring Cove Boardwalk Trail to Hot Springs Cove

Route length: 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) out and back // 8 kilometres (5 miles) total

Situated in Maquinna Marine Provincial Park on Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast, this moderately trafficked trail is accessed via a short 20-minute seaplane flight or a 1.5-hour boat ride from Tofino. The well-maintained cedar boardwalk is suitable for most abilities (although there are wooden stairs) and takes hikers through an old-growth forest to a series of seven natural hot springs. Along the boardwalk are a handful of viewpoints that look out through the temperate rainforest to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. The hot springs remain at an average 50°C (122°F), but when combined with the cold ocean water, they make for a pleasant soak.

Photo by mpaskevi

Wild Side Trail to Ahousat Hot Springs

Route length: 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) out and back

Hidden on the south side of Flores Island in Gibson Marine Provincial Park is the Wild Side Trail, which can be accessed via a 30-minute water taxi or eight-minute seaplane flight from Tofino. The adventurous can also kayak 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) to the trail. Reaching the hot springs requires a detour from the Wild Side Trail when you reach the sandy shores of Whitesand Cove, where markers guide you through the remaining four kilometres (2.5 miles) to the Ahousat Hot Springs. This rough and sometimes muddy historic route winds through ancient Sitka forests and meanders past undeveloped beaches on the traditional territory of the Ahousat First Nations. Soak in the clear waters of the hot spring, which consistently reach 25°C (77°F), while overlooking the secluded Matilda Inlet.

Halfway Hot Springs Trail to Halfway Hot Springs

Route length: 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) out and back

Though the Halfway Hot Springs located between Nakusp and Revelstoke are open year-round, access to the trailhead can be limited between October and May due to heavy snowfall, which makes for a 10.9-kilometre (6.8-mile) out-and-back hike as you start from the unpaved forest service road instead of the parking lot. The trail is short but steep and travels mostly downhill on wooden stairs to two main rock pools along the river, each with varying temperatures. Hikers can visit the hot springs for day use, stay the night in one of a dozen paid car camping sites, or set up camp on one of the few tent pads that offer more privacy. The whole Halfway River Hotsprings Recreation Site area is maintained by BC Parks.

Photo by HelloHillary // Flickr

Kuskanax Creek Nakusp Hot Springs Trail to Nakusp Hot Springs

Route length: 16.9 kilometres (10.5 miles) out and back

Through dense forests of cedar and hemlock in Central Kootenay’s Kuskanax Valley, this trail along the canyon takes you to the two mineral pools that make up the Nakusp Hot Springs. The path crosses a covered wooden bridge with benches and views over the roaring river, an ideal spot for a picnic before hopping in the pools. In summer, the warm pool is kept at 36°C (97°F), and the hot pool at 39°C (103°F), with temperatures going up to 37°C (100°F) and 42°C (107°F) respectively in winter for an even toastier experience. Nakusp Hot Springs also offer hikers a few options for overnight stays including a campground, an RV site, and cozy cedar chalets.

Lillooet River Trail to Keyhole Hot Springs

Route length: 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) out and back

A winter-only trail due to high grizzly bear activity between April and November, this route is best conquered with a reliable set of hiking poles and snowshoes or crampons. Situated some 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of Whistler, the trailhead can be found off a pothole-filled logging road. At the end of the sometimes steep Lillooet River Trail are three rocky, hot water pools embedded in a cliff face overlooking imposing rock faces and the Lillooet River below. The vibrant color of the natural hot water pools (also known as the Pebble Creek Hot Springs) changes with the sun, transforming from a deep turquoise on gray days to shades of emerald on particularly sunny ones. Note that while this spot is closed annual between April 1 and November 15, winter closures for public safety are also common.

Road-tripping around BC or just looking for a weekend getaway? See all the province has to offer.

Vivian is a Vancouver-based freelance writer with a thirst for adventure. She's a champion at booking one-way flights and is perpetually scheming her next getaway.

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