5 Revelstoke Hikes Perfect for Spotting Wildflowers

As the sun moves into the northern sphere in British Columbia, the days grow longer and nights shorter, snow begins to melt in the valley floor, and violet-colored crocuses sprout from the damp ground. Songbirds return and sap begins to flow again as the earth awakens. 

At this time, the BC hillsides trade winter’s white skirts for spring and summer greens. Above the tree-lined ridges, the jagged, snow-covered mountaintops of the Monashees, Columbias, Selkirks, and Rockies tower above in grinning smiles. In late June and July, solar rays peel back a meadow’s white carpet and a floral bouquet of biodiversity blooms.

The Revelstoke area offers prime hiking opportunities to spot some of the most colourful wildflowers in BC—alpine meadows come alive first with glacier lilies, tiny spring beauties, arnica, and buttercups, all followed by anemones, shooting stars, sitka valerian, wild camus, Indian paintbrush, and asters. Some wildflower hikes are popular—for good reason—while others are more remote, involving worthy treks up logging roads to get away from pavement and the crowds. Read on for our favorite wildflower day hikes around Revelstoke, best taken between June and August.

Wildflowers on Meadows in the Sky Parkway // Photo by M.E. Sanseverino
The Eva Lake landscape // Photo by Jonathan Woods

Mount Revelstoke National Parks’ Eva Lake Trail Hike

Route length: 14 kilometres out and back (7 km one way)
Proximity to town: Right on the edge of Revelstoke

In Mount Revelstoke National Park, Meadows in the Sky Parkway allows vehicles to reach the subalpine by driving right to it. Hop a shuttle bus from town or drive yourself to the Balsam Lakes parking lot at the top of the parkway, where Parks Canada built a short, wheelchair-accessible trail of partly paved and elevated boardwalks guide hikers to an old fire lookout.

From there, the trail elevation to Eva Lake is minimal and relatively flat as one passes by boulder-strewn slopes and alpine meadows covered in wildflowers before reaching the glacial lake. Expect a 4- to 6-hour round-trip hike, but know that backpackers can break up the trek by booking an overnight stay at a Mount Revelstoke National Park campground in advance. The whole hike is lined with wildflowers including glacier lilies, spring beauties, sitka valerian, arnica, lupine, asters, and shooting stars.

Wildflowers in bloom on the Stoke Climb Trail // Photo by Tom Poole, Courtesy of RMR
Trail runners on the Stoke Climb Trail // Photo by Tom Poole, Courtesy of RMR

Stoke Climb Trail at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Route length: 12.6 kilometres out and back (6.3 km one way)
Proximity to town: A 10-minute drive south

Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) stands like a beacon overlooking the town, the Columbia River Valley, and the surrounding Monashee and Columbia mountain ranges. The Stoke Climb begins at the top of the Revelation Gondola, for which hikers will need to buy lift tickets, and leads through the subalpine. The trail switchbacks through patches of subalpine fir interspersed with ski runs before breaking into the full alpine and open meadows of wildflowers filled with Indian paintbrush, arnica, asters, sitka valerian, and lupines.

Lupines at sunset // Photo by Mason Field

Mount McCrae Lake and Peak Trail

Route length: 13 kilometres out and back (6.5 km one way)
Proximity to town: About an hour’s drive south along the Columbia River

McCrae Peak is labeled the crown jewel of Revelstoke alpine day hikes. To reach the starting point, you’ll drive along a long logging road (the Akolkolex-Crawford-Dupont Forest Service Road) for about 33 kilometres before reaching a parking area where you’re unlikely to find crowds. About 2 kilometres up the trail is a fork—one way leads down to McCrae Lake and another heads up another 4.5 kilometres to McCrae Peak. This path leads through wildflower meadows of arnica, aster, brown-eyed Susans, lupine, sitka valerian, and Indian paintbrush, among others. The trail dwindles as you near the summit area, where it’s left up to each hiker to find the most comfortable route to the top’s Columbia River Valley views.

A Glacier National Park wildflower hike // Photo by Ali Kazal

Glacier National Park’s Balu Pass Trail

Route length: 11.5 kilometres out and back (about 5.5 km one way)
Proximity to town: About an hour’s drive northeast to the park

In Hindi, “baloo” means bear, and this area is true to its namesake as a habitat for both black and grizzly bears. (Check for notices of current bear activity.) The Balu Pass trailhead is set right off the TransCanada Highway at Glacier National Park, at Roger’s Pass Discovery Centre, before the trail winds within an ancient temperate interior rainforest composed of giant western red cedars, hemlocks, and Engelmann spruce. You’ll begin to find wildflowers blooming in summer where the trail crosses winter avalanche paths—think alpine meadows filled with Indian paintbrush, glacier lilies, spring beauties, sitka valerian, arnica, lupine, and asters. From there on the 4- to 6-hour day hike, you’ll switchback up to the end to be rewarded with incredible Cheops Mountain and Grizzly Mountain views.

A Keystone Standard Basin scene // Photo courtesy of Recreation Sites and Trails BC

Keystone Standard Basin Trail

Route length: 23 kilometres out and back (11.5 km one way)
Proximity to town: About an hour’s drice north along the river up highway 23

Beginning way up a logging road and out of cell service, Keystone Standard Basin is well worth the journey to reach the start and the likely 12 hours it takes to complete. The backcountry trail is both a hiking and mountain biking trail, nearly the entirety of which runs through alpine meadows filled with wildflowers come late July. Skyscraping peaks in both the Columbia and Monashee ranges tower above in all directions, and the trail contours through meadows outlined with snowforests and Krummholz (trees and vegetation stunted by wind and snow).

The whole hike is lined with lupines, arnica, daisies, forget-me-nots, beargrass, Sitka valerian, glacier lilies, larkspur, nine-leaf desert parsley, prairie smoke, and more. It’s especially popular among mountain bikers and trail runners, and the best part is, there’s no need to go the whole way if you’re looking for a shorter wildflower fix through the meadows. If you do conquer the whole thing, you’ll find the trail ascends to a remote, wooden cabin on a small lake surrounded by trees.

Looking for Revelstoke camping spots near these hiking trails? Say no more.

Benjamin Alva Polley splits his time between British Columbia and Montana. He worked in Glacier National Park on backcountry trail crews for a decade, as well as mapped out soils in the park, was a fire lookout, helped with numerous wildlife studies, stayed at a remote ranger station in the fall to keep an eye out for poachers and smugglers. He’s an experienced freelance journalist with stories published in Popular Science, Esquire, Field & Stream, Sierra, Mountain, Earth Island Journal, and others.

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