The Hoodoos trail is a super easy, family friendly walk near Fairmont Hot Springs in Columbia Valley, Canada. I always love seeing interesting geological formations so as soon as I heard about these, I was keen to visit. We’ve seen the hoodoos in Banff and the Gargoyles near Squamish, but these ones were much grander – they are more of a castle than a fairy spire!
I should probably mention that I’d smashed my knee previous evening on our way back from Dog Lake, and it was too painful to walk far that morning. (sob) Originally I had planned for epic an hike in Kootenay National Park… but instead we picked out a few easy sightseeing-like adventures that I could manage without putting much pressure on my poorly knee.
Hoodoos trail map
You can see there are a few other trails that might allow you to hike in a loop, but they were all closed off when we visited.
Hoodoos trail – The basics
Distance: 3 km
Elevation gain: 120m
Time: 45 mins – 1 hour
What to bring:
This is a short walk, but there isn’t much shade, so you may still want to bring The 10 essentials. At least, bring water and wear sunscreen.
We saw a sign that said this is habitat for grizzly bears, so we brought bear spray just in case.
Facilities: Just a carpark
Dogs: Yes (on a leash)
How hard is it? Very easy. I managed it while injured and hardly able to walk.
Hoodoos trail – Getting started
These hoodoos are located in the Columbia Valley, less than half an hour from Radium hot springs. They are located right by the Highway BC 93/95, a few kilometers South of Fairmont Hot Springs, or North of the Columbia Lake. You just need to turn off the highway onto Westside road, and there is a car park at the trailhead.
Wait, what are hoodoos?
A hoodoo is a tall rock column made of relatively soft rock (like sandstone) with a hard and dense rock sitting on top, like a cap.
This whole area was covered by a massive glacier for thousands of years. The ice eroded the surrounding rocks into “glacial till” (gravel, sand and silt) that was deposited here when the glaciers melted into a huge glacial lake. Then, as the lake drained away, rivers carved out the Columbia Valley. Lastly, rain, frost and wind eroded the ridges and turrets into these hoodoos.
There are some other cool hoodoos in Banff that have more obvious hard caps. The hoodoos near Fairmont Hot Springs look more like a turreted castle compared to those fairy-like spires.
The pathway up to the top of the hoodoos is wide and easy to follow. You do need to hike up a hill, so it’ll get your heart beating; But it’s not a tough walk. At the top of the hill, there is a loop so either direction will take you to the hoodoos (but go left to reach them faster…)
Hoodoos are constantly eroding. This means it is not safe to get too close to edge. If you visit with dogs, keep them on a lead…and if you have lemming-like children, keep an eye on them at all times.
You can’t always tell from the top, but these cliffs have a steep drop off to Dutch Creek, 100m below.
Views from the Hoodoos
The views are pretty cool – you can see Dutch Creek winding its way over to Columbia Lake, as well as the beautiful mountains that tower over Fairmont Hot Springs.
The body of water off in the distance is the Columbia Lake. It’s kind of mad to think this entire area was part of that lake when the glaciers first melted!
Fairmont Hot Springs Views
On the way back you can see this fabulous view of Fairmont Hot Springs – including the resort, the ski runs as well as the golf courses. The hot springs were closed to the public (due to covid-19) when we visited, but normally that’s a great place to visit if you are in the area.
Views below the Hoodoos
Although I really liked the views from up high on these hoodoos, I actually thought they were even more impressive from below. We could see a trail along the top that hikes up/down them BUT this was closed off. Still I was curious what’s they look like from below, so we found a pull in by the highway where we could stop and take a peek.
Aren’t they awesome!? They remind me of castle turrets or city walls of some ancient city. I’ve included Marc in one of the photos so you can see the scale.
All of that carved out by wind, frost and this little creek!
Hiking along the Hoodoos trail is a great way to spend some time in the Columbia Valley. My knee was really painful that morning, so I am happy to confirm this is a great easy walk for when you can’t hike!