Revelstoke is perfectly situated for a break on a road trip between Vancouver and Banff, and there is plenty to do to keep you busy for a couple of days. The truth is that the majority of Revelstoke hikes are more like leg stretchers, but there is one longer hike that is well worth doing.
A lot of the Revelstoke hikes are short and flat, making it great for people who don’t have time for a full day hike, but still want to see unique alpine landscape.
Here’s our run down of the best Revelstoke hikes and view points and how to plan a trip to this beautiful area.
Organising your trip
The Revelstoke hikes are split into four areas. The two main areas in the national park are Meadows in the Sky and the Mount Revelstoke summit. Then there are the Giant Cedars and Skunk Cabbage boardwalks on highway 1, and the waterfalls on highway 23 south of Revelstoke.
None of these areas are far apart, but they begin to add up if you’re doing a lot of them. For instance, the summit of Mount Revelstoke is 24km from the entrance to the national park and takes about 40 minutes to drive to as it’s a windy mountain road!
That being said you can still happily do the best Revelstoke hikes in just a couple of days.
Meadows in the Sky
Distance: 1.73km (out & back)
Elevation: 96 metres
Time taken: 25 minutes
A short, uphill hike in the national park that is a good introduction to Revelstoke. The trail starts from a small dirt path on a switchback on the Meadows in the Sky road.
After meandering through the forest, the trail opens up to show off views of the surrounding mountains and Columbia River, the landscape that makes Revelstoke such a beautiful place.
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The trail is well graded, and though it is pretty much uphill for the whole trail, it’s very gentle. You will keep with the narrow dirt path in the forest until you reach the broken bridge.
The bridge has collapsed and nature is beginning to take over, with moss and plants returning the area to its original state. There’s a pretty river, a strange wood carving and lots of trees for shade making it a peaceful place to sit and rest for a while.
Broken Bridge was one of the quieter hikes in the park, so it is a good one for those wanting to get away from the crowds that can congregate on the upper summit trails.
The Snowforest Viewpoint overlooks the Columbia River and the mountains around Revelstoke. It’s not a clear view as the forest is obscuring it a little, however it is definitely worth stopping by on the way up or down the mountain.
The Revelstoke Viewpoint overlooks the town and the valley below which is a pretty sight on a clear day. It’s a good spot for sunset as you’re facing west.
The Summit Trail
Our original intention was to hike the 20km Summit Trail. However, as we were driving up the Meadows in the Sky Road to check out the Upper Summit trails first we saw the trail and quickly changed our minds. It winds its way up the mountain regularly crossing the road before heading back into small patches of forest and then back to road. We didn’t find this idea very appealing so it’s likely to be one for peak baggers only!
If you want a meatier hike and have already visited Eva, Miller and Jade Lakes then we’d recommend heading to nearby Glacier National Park.
Revelstoke Summit Area
The Mount Revelstoke summit is split into two areas: the lower part near the car park and the upper part which is only accessible by shuttle or hiking the short Upper Summit trail. Parking here is at a premium and the car park fills up incredibly quickly at peak times. Eventually the parking runs down the road, so you may find that you have to park a long way away from the trails and the main area if visiting in the middle of the day.
Both areas have quite a lot of flat trails which are popular with families. However, the upper area is the place to start the Eva Lake trail and has far better views.
The Lower Summit Area
Distance: 0.7 km (out and back trail)
Elevation: 20 metres
Time taken: 20 minutes
A short trail that heads out to one of Revelstoke’s best views. From Lake Balsam the trail heads gently uphill through a meadow, and it isn’t long before you arrive at the clearing.
The clearing looks out to the Columbia River (which looks more like a huge lake) and seems to go on for miles. Hardly anyone was on this track despite the great view, unfortunately that meant the millions of mosquitoes were waiting only for us!
We would have stayed for longer, but the mozzies bite through your clothes so make sure you have repellent with you.
The Upper Summit Trail
Distance: 1 km (one way)
Elevation: 85 metres
Time taken: 15 minutes
The Upper Summit Trail is essentially a connector trail that joins the lower car park to the upper summit area if you don’t want to wait for a shuttle bus or walk on the road.
It’s only 1km long - so it isn’t really an exertion - and pleasant enough through the forest, but not worth prioritising above the trails from the upper summit if you are limited in time or energy.
After the shuttles stop you can get back to your car using this track which allows you to watch sunset at the Upper Summit - and of course walked in this direction it’s all downhill!
We got lucky and saw a Great Gray Owl on this trail, so keep your eyes peeled for this incredible bird! There were two in the area during our visit.
Difficulty: Easy - less than 10 minutes
This isn’t really a trail, but a very short stroll around a lake. It’s a great introduction to the alpine landscape that is so unique and fragile up here.
In wildflower season, the meadows by the lake become full of colour, but the season is incredibly short (starting in mid July and ending by the start of September).
This was our favourite lookout in the park and just a 10 minute walk from the Lower Summit area. The views here go for miles in all directions and you feel like you’re up in the clouds!
Revelstoke Summit - Upper Area
The best hikes in Mount Revelstoke National Park are from the upper summit. This is the place where you’ll be level with the surrounding mountain tops offering stunning views in all directions. It’s the starting point for Mount Revelstoke’s most famous hike: Eva Lake.
You can only access the Upper Summit by hiking the Upper Summit Trail (1km) or taking the shuttle. These shuttles are essentially mini vans - very small and fill up quickly in high season. You can find the shuttle times by season at this link.
Contrary to some information online, the shuttle only runs between the Lower and Upper Summit area not between the base and the Upper Summit.
Distance: 0.6 km
Elevation: 23 metres
Time taken: 20 minutes
Another flat and short hiking trail leads you to the old fire lookout at the summit of Mount Revelstoke. The views from here are pretty amazing and on a clear day you can see the river surrounded by mountains.
The fire lookout is also quaint with a ladder to the tiny observation area at the top.
Distance: 0.78 km
Elevation: 40 metres
Time taken: 20 minutes
The first footsteps trail is the most interesting and picturesque of all the short trails in Revelstoke National Park, offering beautiful views with lots of interesting information about the first nations people and their connection to the land. Information boards along the trail describe their use of plants for medicinal purposes as well as insights in to the flora and fauna of the park.
It’s an easy and pleasant paved loop and if you’re in the right season had spectacular wildflowers.
Eva Lake & Miller Lake
Distance: 14 km (out & back), if you don’t use the shuttle you need to add 2km on to this to get to and from the trail head
Elevation: 400 metres
Time taken: 3 hours 30
If you only have time for one hike in Mount Revelstoke National Park, make sure it’s the trail to Eva Lake. You can add on Miller Lake which is a very short detour which we’ll describe below and with more time you could also visit Jade Lake. Adding on Jade Lake will increase the hike length by 8km and also a significant amount of additional elevation so start early for this one.
The hike to Eva Lake drops down into a meadow and immediately feels worlds away from the busier Upper Summit area.
Along the way you’ll pass through pristine alpine meadows, streams and the occasional rocky boulder patch. The trail is in excellent condition and differs from most alpine hikes we’ve done in Canada in that it is predominantly flat.
After 5km you’ll reach a sign where you can choose to take a left to Eva Lake or a right to Miller. We recommend starting at Eva which is a gradual hike uphill before reaching this beautiful lake.
You can hike around the lake in 15 - 20 minutes or so which gives you different perspectives. Even if you don’t go the whole way round the lake make sure you go left to the far end to see the huge cliff edge view that is tucked behind the trees!
When you can drag yourself away from Eva Lake, head back along the trail and take the turning to Miller Lake - a much less popular, but equally beautiful lake. Then you can hike all the way back to the summit of Mount Revelstoke. The path is a mixture of flat and a gradual uphill climb, but never steep.
If you fancy more of a challenge, add on the track to Jade Lake which also goes from the junction of Eva and Miller Lake and is well sign posted. It is said to be the most beautiful of all three lakes but we sadly didn’t have time to squeeze it in.
Whilst still within the boundaries of the Mount Revelstoke National Park, two of the most popular walks are a long way from the others. The Giant Cedars and Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk are accessed from Highway One going east from Revelstoke.
This means these two walks are between 30 minutes and an hour’s drive from the trails we’ve mentioned so far.
The Giant Cedars
Distance: 0.5km loop
Elevation: 19 metres
Time taken: 15 (leisurely) minutes
If you haven’t seen the huge cedars that are characteristic of Canada (or simply enjoy forest walks), then the Giant Cedars is worth stopping by. The trail is all boardwalk with a few staircases, but overall it’s a pretty easy trail.
The track winds its way through the forest in a small loop, showcasing these incredible trees. There are plenty of informative signs to take you through what makes the cedars so special and the trail is a great introduction to the park.
Getting to Giant Cedars
The Giant Cedars Boardwalk is 27km along Highway 1 (a little further on than the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk). There’s ample parking here, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a spot.
Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk
Distance: 1.3 km (out & back)
Elevation: 0 metres
Time taken: 20 minutes
Another very popular short walk is the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk. This trail runs alongside the Columbia River and takes you through a boggy area which is crammed full of absolutely huge Skunk Cabbages!
The boardwalk is short, flat and very easy, as well as offering plenty of information about this unusual plant which bears actually use as a laxative after hibernation!
Getting to the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk
The Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk is a 20 minute drive East on the Trans-Canada Highway. You’ll see a signpost to turn into a small car park (which fills up very easily). A lot of people choose to picnic here along the river with views of the mountains. It’s very close to the Giant Cedars so it makes sense to do both together.
Glacier National Park - Abbott Ridge
Distance: 17km (we used the short route up and long route down)
Time taken: 5 hours
If you have more time in the area then we’d highly recommend visiting Glacier National Park which is less than an hour from Revelstoke. There are many incredible hikes in the park but our favourite and one of the best we hiked in Canada was the Abbott Ridge trail.
This steep but rewarding hike takes you through a forest to a pretty lake before you leave the tree line and start to see some truly spectacular mountain views. The hike is fairly tough but every step is rewarded with snow-capped mountain panoramas and an epic ridge walk at the top of the trail. If you have time just trust us and do it!
Here’s the full low down on the Abbott Ridge Trail.
South of Revelstoke
It doesn’t get much easier to access an epic waterfall than at Sutherland Falls just south of Revelstoke town. We visited on a rainy day and saw the falls in full force and could hear them a long time before we could see them.
The falls are about 200 metres from the car park and you can choose to take it in from behind the safety of a fence, or scramble down a couple of rocks for a closer view. Be careful as the rocks can become slick, but it is worth it for the views.
Getting to Sutherland Falls
Sutherland Falls is 26 km south of Revelstoke along Highway 23 and it should take about 20 minutes to drive to. Look for a turning signposted “Blanket Creek Provincial Park” and follow the road as far as you can. From here it’s a short walk to the falls.
Essential info about Revelstoke
Entry fee for Revelstoke National Park
Entry to Revelstoke National Park costs $9.80 CAD per person per day ($7 USD).
If you plan on visiting multiple National Parks in Canada, you could look at the annual pass. It costs $136.40 CAD ($102 USD) for a whole car and will get you entry to 80 parks in Canada.
Bear Safety on the Revelstoke hikes
Both black and grizzly bears live in Revelstoke National Park. Black bears tend to hang around in the lower elevation areas, so that would be the Giant Cedars, Skunk Cabbage and Broken Bridge trails from our list.
Grizzlies live in the higher elevation areas which is every other trail on our list. Sightings are quite common in the summer and it’s worth asking the ranger as you drive in for recent sightings. We always carry bear spray and it’s a good idea to make noise on all trails, particularly around blind corners so that you don’t startle a bear.
During our visit one grizzly was using Heather Lake at the Upper Summit as a bath! Sadly we never saw him but it was fun to hear the rangers stories.
Wildflowers in Revelstoke
If you can time your visit to fit with wildflower season you won’t be disappointed. They are truly spectacular and line the Meadows in the Sky Road as well as many of the hiking trails. The best time for wildflowers is between mid July and mid August but we could still see a few in late August on our second visit. The majority of the pictures in our blog are from our first visit in early August though.
Getting to Mount Revelstoke National Park
Getting to the entry gate for Mount Revelstoke National Park is easy - it’s a five minute drive from the centre of Revelstoke town (three hours from Banff and six hours from Vancouver). However, the gates for the park are 24km from the summit and it takes about 40 minutes to drive up to the top.
The other trails are about 20-30 minutes from the centre of Revelstoke town as well.
Mount Revelstoke National Park opening hours
Unlike the majority of national parks we visited in Canada the Meadows in the Sky Road which is needed to access the majority of hikes and viewpoints closes in the evening. The times vary according to season and you can find them at this link.
Where to stay in Revelstoke
We were originally planning to stay at The Cube hotel but left our booking too last minute and it sold out. We ended up at the dirtiest campground we’ve ever stayed in so we can’t recommend it.
We picked The Cube originally for its central location and great reviews.
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Are you planning a trip to Revelstoke? Which Revelstoke hikes would make you list? Let us know in the comments below!