Hoodoos Trail – Columbia Valley
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!
36 thoughts on “Hoodoos Trail – Columbia Valley”
These are cool! They kind of look like the Badlands in South Dakota (near where I live).
That makes sense! They are meant to be found in arid drainage basin or badlands – I bet the ones near you are even more impressive!
Edit- I just googled it- the ones near you are like giant, stripy versions of these – they must be spectacular when the sun is setting!!
Wow, looks like a cool trip! It’s unfortunate some of the trails were closed off, but you still got some good views. I agree, the views from the bottom are even nicer, but there’s still nothing like a nice hike to the top to feel satisfied.
I think the trails might have been closed off to allow the area to recover, so we didn’t mind much. 🙂 But yeah, you’re right – views from the top of anywhere are a mini reward!
Cool. Glad you enjoyed yourself Hoppity.
Lol thanks for making me smile Geoff! Hoppity is a fab nickname! 🤣
I’ve never heard of the Hoodoos, but they look very cool! I love great mountain views and some cool weather, so I will definitely have to visit soon. Great travel tips!
Thanks Ashley! Yeah I’d never heard of them before we visited the Rockies – they are really cool through eh? Thanks for visiting and commenting.
This is the first time I’ve heard of hoodoos. The structure looks really impressive from below. But I think I’d be quite nervous venturing into a grizzly bear habitat. I’d go in a big group.
That is always a good idea! We didn’t worry too much as there were other cars in the car park and hikers on the trail.
Hoodoos! Great post! I recently visited Bryce Canyon in Utah and totally fell in love with hoodoos!
The ones in Bryce Canyon look even more amaaaazing! I would love to see them. I LOVED your post about that area. 🙂
This looks like such a fun trip! I’m so sorry some of the trails were closed but it looks like you made the best of it.
Thanks Kelly! Yeah it was pretty awesome that we found anything I could do while it was too painful for me to walk!
You walked more than I could have done with a busted knee. Those hoodoos look great, would love to do the Hoodoos trail.
Thanks Cosette! You would have managed it too – it was such a nice day, I couldn’t stay in the car!
I’m an outdoor person & like hiking. So this post made me happy. 🙂 Good to know about this trail.
Yay, thanks Nisha!
I think I’ve actually been here! Trying to figure out if it’s the same one as I know there are a few hoodoo places around. We cycled around them though – I just can’t remember where from! Great to see some lesser known spots, I’m really enjoying all your Canada posts as always but it sure does make me miss it. 🙂
I think you are right…it seemed like the entire valley had hoodoos at the edges – it’s just some were more worn away than others.
Canada misses you too Clazz – although I guess it worked out well now your lack of travels allowed you to buy a home!
I don’t know how many times I can say I’m jealous of the trails you have, but I am! Each one is so different. I was a geography major in school and did a course on geomorphology – the landscape never ceases to amaze me. Love the natural history here!
Oooh I would love to study some geomorphology. I did a bit of geology in school and always found it fascinating.
It’s great that you’ve listed an easy trail for people to hike on. I love the scenery here and am definitely adding this hike to my list!
Thanks Krista!! Yeah it’s always nice when we find a few easy options.
I learned about hoodoos this year when I visited Page, Arizona! They’re such cool formations.
Oooh I bet the ones you saw in Paige were even better! Do you have a post about them?
Every single time that I read “bear spray” on one of your posts, I’m amazed that such a thing exists (What can I say, I’m a simpleton at heart).
I’m totally with you on the views from below the Hoodoos. I can’t believe you did this while ingured!
Haha, I am soooo glad for bear spray – we have never actually used it, but it does make us *feel* safer to have it with us.
Wow I wish I knew about this trail before my road trip through the Rockies in the fall! The views look absolutely amazing! Pinning for when I return.
Oooh yay for Rockies road trips! Did you write about it? I always love to see posts about what over people got up to in areas we’ve explored.
I had no idea Canada has hoodoos! I live in Arizona and they’re all over the southwest. Very cool!
I don’t think the ones here are quite as cool as the ones in Arizona Taryn! I would love to see some of the hoodoos in the deserts in the USA…
Beautiful country! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for reading!
The views from the bottom look especially awesome! :] I’ve seen the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon but didn’t know Canada had em’ too!
I think I have pretty much most/all your posts piled into the “Someday” section of my Pinterest, haha. At this rate, I’m going to need to figure out how to take a sabbatical to Canada so I can go on all these hikes! <3
I feel like the Bryce Canyon hoodoos are even more impressive as there are just so many (and sooo many colours!!) but yeah, you need a Canadian holiday!