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Overview

The Kimberley Nature Park and Horse Barn Valley Interpretive Forest have approximately 50 kms of non-motorized trails with a mix of old roads and single-track trails hand-built mostly by volunteers. You can find a variety of options, from mellow side-by-side walks to twisty, technical rides. The trails can lead you through unique ecosystems in quiet settings to several amazing viewpoints, or provide you with tough physical challenges.

 

Walking, running and mountain biking are popular activities in the snow-free seasons, and snow shoeing, cross-country skiing and fat biking occur in winter. Off-leash dogs are welcome in the park as long as owners clean up after them and ensure they do not harass wildlife or other park users.


This section of the site has a detailed map of the area, information about how to access the park, suggestions for summer and winter travel, and a section concerning maintenance and upkeep of the trails, including how you can volunteer or provide information about issues such as fallen trees blocking the trails.

Trails

 

Maps

 

The map below (in pdf format) may be useful for planning trips from your home computer, seeing how the park’s location fits with other areas of the community, and as a reference when looking at other parts of this website.

 

For travel within the park, 67cm x 71cm paper guides (map and information about the park) are available for $5 at a number of sites in Kimberley:

  • Kimberley Tourist Information Centre

  • Alpen Cafe

  • Bavarian Home Hardware

  • Kimberley Riverside Campground

  • Togs

  • Kootenay Mountain Works

  • Bootleg Bike Company

  • Purcell Outdoors

Another useful tool for those with smart phones is the Trailforks app. This free app shows all the trails in the Kimberley area and uses your phone’s GPS to show you where you are on the trails. Detailed suggestions for how to use Trailforks are found below the pdf map.

 

Trailforks can help park users navigate through the area, access information about recommended hikes and rides, and learn about (and report on) trail conditions. Although this technology was developed by the mountain bike media company Pinkbike, we can assure you that it is helpful for all users.

Click on map to enlarge or download.

mapsideimage.jpg

Using Trailforks

 

Computer use, online: Go to this page to see the Kimberley Nature Park area within Trailforks.

 

You will note that the boundaries of the Kimberley Nature Park are not marked, but those for Horse Barn Valley Interpretive Forest are, in the initial TF (Trailforks view). The views available are listed in the top right corner of the map, and we suggest using TF or satellite. A wealth of information is available using this site (trail layout, ratings for riding, topographical information and specific trail data) and we will leave it to you to experiment. The suggestions for summer hikes and rides are found under the Summer Use section of this web site.

Phone App: Trailforks is a free app available for Android and iPhones. Once it is on your phone, you will need to download the Kimberley Region information. If you are concerned about data quantities, this can be done using a wi-fi signal. The area, once loaded, is held on your phone and, in the field, no data need be used.

 

Click on the magnifying glass / search icon

1. Type in “Kimberley, BC” and enter

2. Select the red-and-white mountain icon with “Kimberley, British Columbia XX trails” beside it.

3. Select “Download Kimberley.” The Kimberley Region will now be stored in your phone and downloading of data in the field will not be required again.

 
 

Access

There are six major access points around the perimeter of the park as shown on the map above. Most of the entrances have kiosks with a large map and a bulletin board for notices.

 

Entrance 1 (E1) is at the Kimberley Nordic Club ski area, where there is ample parking and free access in the summer months. In the winter, during cross-country ski season, there is a charge for entrance and no dogs or walkers are allowed.

 

Entrance 2 (E2) is close to downtown off Swan Ave.  At this time there is street parking along Swan Ave. for year-round access. The KNPS is working with the city to improve parking in this area.

 

Entrance 3 (E3) is at the end of Higgins St. and street parking is available one block east of the entrance. (The block closest to the entrance is reserved for local parking only.)

 

Entrance 4 (E4) is at the intersection of Jimmy Russell Road and the St. Mary Lake Road. This is a somewhat informal entrance, with parking about 50 metres up Jimmy Russell Road near the gate, or at the intersection itself.

 

Entrance 5 (E5) is across the road from the Kimberley Riverside Campground on the St. Mary Lake Road. There is parking for about 10 cars throughout the summer. Winter parking is available just inside the campground entrance in front of the office.


Entrance 6 (E6) is the Horse Barn Valley Interpretive Forest entrance and requires a drive up a forestry road that is most suitable for high-clearance vehicles. To access this trailhead, drive 4.1 km past Kimberley Riverside Campground on the St. Mary Lake Road and turn right onto the Matthew Creek Forest Service Road. Turn right after 2.0 km onto a narrow and sometimes rough road. Veer left after 1.6 km and turn right after an additional 0.4 km. The trailhead is reached after a final 0.8 km. Total distance from Kimberley Riverside Campground is 8.9 km.

 

Summer Use

Due to the large elevation differences in the park, some trails will be in summer condition as early as March while other sections may not be snow-free until June. The most sheltered trails, such as Creek and Summer, take the longest to dry out after the snow melts and should be avoided until they are less muddy. Similarly, with a relatively dry fall, trails may stay useable into November.

Be aware that summer users include walkers, runners and mountain bikers. All users should be aware of others and avoid situations that could cause conflicts or injuries. Riders should always ride in control, call out their approach to walkers, and slow down. It is easier for walkers to step off the trail, and they’ll be more willing to do so if you haven’t just startled them.

Trees come down in the park year-round. There are volunteers who try to cut them out quickly, but you should be ready to go over, under or around the odd tree. Please report these downed trees. There is no poison ivy or poison oak in the nature park. We have noticed stinging nettle along the Lower Army Road just past the Pat Morrow Trail turnoff, but unless you go flailing off into the bush it shouldn't be a problem. There are a number of thorny plants in the park ranging from wild rose and thistle to devil’s club, but again, if you stay on the roads and paths these won't bother you. There are, of course, poisonous mushrooms and other plants in the park, so unless you are an expert naturalist or botanist don't eat things—instead, pack a lunch.

 

Although the park is surrounded on three sides by parts of Kimberley, it can still be a pretty wild place, animal-wise. Moose, elk, deer and bears call the park home for all or part of the year, and you should not be surprised to encounter them. If they are on the trail, the best practice is to call out to let them know you are there. If they do not immediately run off, slowly back away and chose another route. Animals with young deserve extra caution.

 

Suggested hikes can be located using the paper guide and map, or chosen using the Trailforks smart phone app, or read below.

Computer:

From the Trailforks page covering the Kimberley Nature Park, you can quickly access the suggested hikes by clicking on the Routes tab above the map. This will bring up a large list of Trailforks routes for the Kimberley area. All the ones that start with “NP Hike” are hikes that the Kimberley Nature Park Society recommends. Once a route is selected, a brief overview is shown, as well as key information about the location, length, and vertical profile.

 

Smart phone:

With the Kimberley Area loaded into Trailforks, finding suggested hiking routes is easy. Press the magnifying glass symbol. A set of menu tabs will now appear and you should select Routes. The Kimberley-area routes will be listed in order of approximately how close they are to your current location. Suggested Kimberley Nature Park hikes are listed with “NP Hike” at the start of the names. When you select a route, the map will zoom to fit that area and distance, and the vertical profile will be shown. The overview statement for the hike can be viewed by touching the route name.

 
 

Suggested Summer Hiking Routes

North End Circuit

Moderate ~ 5.6 km + 125 m elevation gain

This loop winds around and through glacial ridges and basins, mostly on single track.

From Swan Avenue, travel south on Lower Army Road past the kiosk and Three Corners to Myrtle Junction. Turn right and head north on Upper Army Road, ignoring the first right onto Romantic Ridge. Watch for a narrow path on the right just 150 m beyond, notable for the large stump at the junction. Stump Trail descends into a glacial depression before climbing slightly to the junction with Cabin Trail. Continue north past a trail heading right (Hillside Trail) and finish with a steep climb onto Romantic Ridge. Turn right and follow this prominent ridge southward to a saddle. Turn left at Hillside and left again at the Suicide Trail and continue left on it to Lower Army Road just north of Three Corners. Follow the trail that winds right, ahead from where you intersected Lower Army Road. Follow this single track along a ridge, passing to the right of the kiosk on Lower Army Road to gain Ponderosa Trail. When you regain Lower Army Road you are only 200 m from the Swan Avenue entrance (to the right).

West Side Highline

Strenuous ~ 13 km + 475 m elevation gain

This ‘figure-8’ loop will take you through Horse Barn Valley and down Creek Trail.

From the Nordic Ski Area, follow Centennial and Trapline to Five Corners. Stay right along the bench that wraps around to Rock Slide Trail. Traverse the rocky trail across this wide opening before climbing through forest toward Dipper Lake. Continue to climb up along Shannon Trail, across Bear Trail and on to the rocky crest of Mountain Trail with some excellent views. After a steady descent through open forest, a sharp right (just before a road) takes you back into the forest on Summer Trail. Follow this rooty trail past several wetlands and the Dipper Lake Cabin. At the kiosk, the single track gives way to the old road that leads up Bullfrog Hill back to the junction of Shannon Trail. Turn left onto this roller coaster trail and stay right at all junctions as you descend through shaded cedar forest along Creek Trail. Riders should ride carefully to reduce erosion. At the valley bottom, turn left and follow Army Road north to Myrtle Junction. Continue north on Upper Army Road toward the golf course. Just before the greens, veer left and climb the aptly named single-track Sidecut Trail back to the Nordic trails, where you turn right to return to the trailhead.

Myrtle Mountain Traverse

Strenuous ~ 10 km + 155 m elevation gain

This invigorating route takes you to the top of a scenic hill and then drops back down on pleasant trails, which take you past Duck Pond, a Special Place.


Follow Lower Army Road south past Three Corners and Myrtle Junction. Continue on Army Road to the three-way junction at Higgins Hill. Turn left onto Mountain Mine Road and climb gradually at first through dense stands of pine. The road steepens abruptly halfway up for a challenging 50-metre climb. Near the top you follow a shallow gully to a saddle between Bump Mountain and Myrtle Mountain. (For a side trip onto the rocky shoulder of Myrtle Mountain, which provides fine views east to the Rockies, turn left at the junction for S.W. Passage Trail.) Back at the junction, follow S.W. Passage west along the ridge toward Bump Mountain and a steep descent of 100-metre to the junction with Skid Road. Staying left at this and the next junctions takes you around the east side of Myrtle Mountain on the single-track Duck Pond Trail. Make sure you stop for a moment at Duck Pond (near the junction with Keiver Way) to enjoy this Special Place. Continue north on Duck Pond Trail, which turns into an old road, and watch for a sharp right before Myrtle Junction onto Pat Morrow Trail. Descend this to regain Lower Army Road. Continue north from Three Corners and veer right at the kiosk to gain Ponderosa Trail, which will take you back to the trailhead.

Sunflower Hill Loop

Easy ~ 3.5 km + 115 m elevation gain

This shorter outing is snow-free much of the year and offers scenic views of the Rockies and St. Mary Valley.


Climb through open ponderosa pine forest along Jimmy Russell Road from either E4 or E5. Turn right onto the Duck Pond Trail that climbs directly up the slope. At the top of Sunflower Hill, a sharp right leads along the crest of the hill with excellent views up the St. Mary Valley and across the Rocky Mountain Trench to the Canadian Rockies. The Sunflower Road turns back on itself at the eastern end of the Park and descends steadily across the slope to rejoin Jimmy Russell Road. If you started at the campground, you will have to climb back up Jimmy Russell Road for a short distance to access the single track trail that leads down to the campground.

Natural History Loop

Moderate ~ 5.5 km + 280 m elevation gain


This moderate loop includes a steady climb, scenic viewpoint and is a favourite with local nature buffs.


From the campground or Jimmy Russell Road entrance, follow Jimmy Russell Road up a constant ascent. Just as the road levels off, turn right onto the single-track S.W. Passage and climb to a ridge. A side trip to the right offers a good viewpoint over the St. Mary Valley. From the viewpoint return to S.W. Passage and turn right. In a short distance you will reach the junction with Skid Road (trail). Turn right and continue descending along Skid Road before veering right onto Duck Pond Trail. This leads downhill past several junctions back to Jimmy Russell Road. A left takes you to your starting point.

Eimer's Lake Loop

Easy ~ 1.8 km + 35 m elevation gain


Eimer’s Lake is one of the most accessible Special Places and is an excellent short loop for people of all abilities.


Climb gradually up Eimer’s Road, watching for the narrow trail through the trees that leads to Eimer’s Lake. Enjoy the view at the lake and wander around the right-hand shore. Follow that trail as it loops around the lake. Descend back to the trailhead along Eimer’s Road.

Romantic Ridge Loop

Moderate ~ 3.5 km + 125 m elevation gain


This loop follows wonderful single track trails along two prominent ridges in the north end of the Park.
Start at Higgins Street entrance with a gentle climb up Eimer’s Road to Three Corners.

 

Follow Lower Army Road south and veer left onto the single-track Pat Morrow Trail. This trail follows a broad ridge toward Duck Pond Trail where a right turn takes you quickly over a small bridge to Myrtle Junction. At Myrtle Junction, head north on Upper Army Road and soon veer right onto Romantic Ridge. Halfway along the ridge, descend to the right on The Suicide Trail to Lower Army Road. Turn right and then immediately left at Three Corners and descend back to the trailhead on Eimer’s Road.

Horse Barn Valley Loop from Matthew Creek

Easy ~ 3.3 km + 70 m elevation gain

 

This shorter loop is varied and scenic with shaded forests and rocky ridges.


From the HBV Trailhead kiosk, go east for a short distance to gain Summer Trail and follow it through the shaded cedar forest that borders several wetlands. This narrow trail is quite rooty until it climbs slightly toward Dipper Lake cabin. At the second kiosk, you can veer left for a short side trip to Dipper Lake before returning to the old road that climbs Bullfrog Hill. At the top of the hill, turn right and climb the rocky single track of Mountain Trail. On the final descent, watch for a small trail on your left to an excellent viewpoint over the St. Mary Valley. Back on Mountain Trail, continue down to the trailhead.

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Winter Use

The Kimberley Nature Park is used throughout the winter season and can be especially quiet and peaceful at that time of year. Skiing can often start by mid-November and last until well into March. Snowshoeing, winter hiking and running, and fat biking are other popular activities. The most important issue in winter is sharing of roads with multiple user-types. Please do not go on established ski tracks unless you are on skis! Several locations along trails have signs helping to show which side is reserved for skiers.

Ski access can be from the same entrances as in summer conditions, with the Jimmy Russell Road entrance being easier for skiers than the nearby campground entrance. The road up to the Horse Barn Valley Interpretive Forest is not ploughed and accessing this area is most often done through the Nordic Centre, via Rockslide Trail. An additional winter possibility is to use the popular skier-set tracks from the main entrance into Trickle Creek Golf Course (on the way to the ski resort on Gerry Sorensen Way) and work your way to the hole 7 area, which leads to Upper Army Road at the Nature Park boundary.

 

While most of the roads are wide and gentle enough to be skied by novices, only experienced and skilled skiers should tackle any of the single track trails, or descents such as Bear Trail (road), Higgins Hill (road) and Mountain Mine Road. Coming down Rockslide Trail from Horse Barn Valley (part of the popular 20-km Round the Mountain trail) can also be challenging. The roads in Forest Crowne are a popular place to get more sunshine, and to access Sunflower Hill from the north.


Experienced and fit skiers may be interested in doing the 20-km Round the Mountain Trail, which circles the entirety of North Star Mountain (the ski hill) and uses some trails in Horse Barn Valley and the nature park. The route begins from the Kimberley Nordic Centre and is usually skied counter-clockwise, going along the base of the ski hill first to its far western end. Brown trail markers show the way. After the ski hill area, you will travel through forest for a few kilometres on single track. Once you leave the forest and enter an old cut block, skiers usually continue on the “old route” straight down to a logging road, rather than taking the single track left turn a short distance into the cut block. Wrapping around on the road for two kms, when you come to a T-junction with another road, look for the marked single-track and continue south on it. This single track will continue for several kilometres, finally taking you to an old road in the Tora Bora part of the Horse Barn Valley Interpretive Forest. Skiers will want to stick with the road, as opposed to the single track which climbs up and right from the road. Once at the main HBV trailhead area, you can continue on Talus or Summer trails and continue through to Rockslide Trail and the nordic centre trails. Please be advised that dogs are not permitted in the Kimberley Nordic Centre. This trip could easily take twice as long if the trail has not been broken past the ski hill.

Trail Conditions, Reporting and Maintenance

Volunteers with the Kimberley Nature Park Society (KNPS) do their best to keep trails in excellent condition. Each spring, a Trail Upgrades Committee is struck to analyze the status of trails in the park and in Horse Barn Valley, and to decide which trails need work to improve them, including rerouting.

 

The season usually begins with leaf raking to better define trails and to rid them of organic matter. After this, trail work parties are organized to deal with issues raised by the committee and approved by the society’s directors. Each issue is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and new trails are rare, in keeping with conservation concerns.

 

Weather, downed trees, and old trail designs all conspire to keep the Trail Upgrades Committee active. Please visit our Trail issues page to learn more about how you can see the condition of trails, how to report trail issues, and how you can contribute to keeping the information current.