I am so excited to share the next spectacular section of the Rockwall trail, from Numa Creek to Floe Lake. This hike involved a couple of giant waterfalls, more flower-filled meadows and then switchbacks up into the alpine, to the highest point along the Rockwall trail, Numa Pass. The epic mountain views have to be some of the best in the whole of Kootenay National Park (Canada.) The trail then descends down to the fabulous Floe Lake where we camped below a 1000m cliff face, and swam in the crystal clear waters. It’s hard to describe just how gorgeous this section of the trail is. My photos do not do it justice at all!
Click here for my full Rockwall Trail Guide.
Numa Creek to Floe Lake map
Numa Creek to Floe Lake – the basics
Distance: 9.5 km
Cumulative Elevation gain: 820m (plus an extra 120m at the pass if you fancy it)
Cumulative Elevation loss: -320m
Highest Point: 2340 m at Tumbling Pass
Time: 4 hours
What to bring: The 10 Essentials, bear spray (have it handy), gaiters were helpful.
Facilities: There are outhouses at Numa Creek and Floe Lake Campgrounds. Bring your own loo roll or a kula cloth.
Dogs: Dogs are allowed on this trail if they are on a leash.
How hard is it? The switchbacks up to Numa pass feel hard with a heavy backpack, but it is a steady incline, and not technical. In summer, you *can* do it! In early summer when the pass is covered in snow, this would be tough and pass through avalanche terrain. Don’t attempt it before the trail is officially open.
Numa Creek to Floe Lake – Getting started
This was the third day on the trail for us, so we’d already hiked for around 35km. Once you wake up, you want to follow the single trail that heads south from Numa Creek Campground. If you fancy reading about the other sections and alpine passes:
- Paint pots to Helmet Falls
- Helmet Falls to Tumbling Creek (via Rockwall Pass)
- Tumbling Creek to Numa Creek (via Tumbling Pass)
- Hike out from Floe Lake
Did you know bears like to follow trails too? It’s easier for them to reach berries next to paths than bushwhacking through the deep forest. When you hike through bear country, the best way to ensure you don’t meet bears on the trail is to hike in groups and to make plenty of noise. Early in the morning, if we are enjoying the sounds of nature (and well, being less chatty than normal) every so often we shout “hey bear” to let animals know we’re coming.
We were one of the first groups to leave Numa Creek campground, so we were careful to shout “hey bear” every few minutes as we hiked through the forest. Once, to my surprise there was a “heya” back! We couldn’t see anyone, but a few minutes later, we met up with a couple of hikers who found it hilarious that we’d called them bears. They had left Floe Lake at ridiculous o’clock to attempt to hike all three passes (and 30km) in a single day!
Obstacles along the Rockwall trail
The Rockwall is located inside Kootenay National Park in the Canadian Rockies, so it is a well established and well cared for route. However, as we visited early in the season, there was still plenty of trail maintenance left! This section had quite a few fallen trees for us to clamber over, and one bridge that was missing most of its planks.
Still, it’s not all hard. The trail started with a very gentle slope and led us up to some incredible alpine meadows that were buzzing with wildflowers and happy insects.
Wildflowers near Numa Creek
This trail was wildflower heaven! I LOVED the red paintbrushes, nuttall’s larkspur (that looked like mini blue dragonflies) and yellow columbine lilies. I also adored the pretty coral bells, that look a bit like stars decorating the forest floor.
Foster Peak Falls
There are so many impressive waterfalls! We could see a giant (un-named) waterfall through the trees early in the morning. Then, before the switchbacks to Numa Pass, there is another massive waterfall. Anywhere else, this huge (100-150m drop) waterfall would be famous. Here I only found a mention of it once on the world waterfall database.
Switchbacks up to Numa Pass
The next part of the trail was the reason we woke up early. It was a hot day, so we wanted to make it up the switchbacks before we melted. You need to ascend 590m over 3.5km.
The path traverses through shady forest, then opens out into larch-filled meadows which must shine bright gold in the autumn.
Above the meadows the trail reaches a muddy, rocky area with great swathes of snow that you need to hike over. The rocks shine in the sun!
Whenever you stop to look backwards, the views are fabulous! It was fun to see Hewitt Peak, Tumbling Peak, and the rest of the Rockwall stretching off into the distance. It’s even better when you realize you’ve just hiked all along that line of peaks.
Numa pass has to be the highlight of the entire Rockwall trail. At 2340m, it is the highest point along the route and the views are ah-maaaazing. If you have extra energy, you can climb a little higher towards Foster Peak (I reached the top of the snow in the photo below.)
You can look south down to Floe Peak and Floe Lake. *Swoons*
Lisa (from West Coast Hiker Girl) had been hiking ahead of Shannon and I. She was feeling extra epic and strong… so she went off on an extra peak-bagging adventure up a sub-peak of Mount Numa that looks a bit like a boob.
While Lisa was up on the mountain boob, I cooled my feet on the snow, and Shannon and I started making our way down to the campground at Floe Lake.
This is the view of the trail from Numa Pass to Floe Lake. It’s an easy slope, dropping 320m over 3km.
After the previous long day of two passes (Rockwall Pass and Tumbling Pass) it was really lovely to have an easy-ish day. We only needed to get to Floe lake via a pleasant trail. The path goes through larch-filled meadows surrounded by towering limestone cliffs.
Foster and Floe Peak Geology
Like the rest of the Rockwall, Foster Peak (the highest point in the Vermillion range at 3201m) and Floe Peak are both composed of Ottertail limestone. This sedimentary rock was laid down from shallow sea sediments that was then pushed east and over the top of younger rocks. We chatted to a Geologist at Floe Lake, who told us that the rocks here were from edge of the sea, where the continental shelf drops into deep ocean. This area would have been muddy, and less likely to have fossils than parts of the Rockwall further North.
Floe Lake Campground
Floe Lake Campground is one of those idyllic locations where you will want to spend some time relaxing! There are 18 camping pads spread out just above Floe Lake, at the base of the 1000m cliffs of Floe Peak. Unsurprisingly, it can be hard to snag a reservation because this is such a popular (and flipping gorgeous) location.
Facilities-wise, there are two kitchen areas at Floe Lake, each with benches and 10 storage lockers. There are also loos (with fabulous views.) You can collect water from the lake, or from the stream at the edge of the campground.
There is a beautiful warden’s cabin next to Floe Lake. The beach in front of this cabin was my favourite view of the lake. There is a stream with a small waterfall, just beyond here.
Our plan for the rest of the day was to swim and relax. I LOVED swimming in Floe Lake (although it was very cold.) The downside is the mosquitoes and bitey black flies. I was bitten so many times that I retreated to the tent for a nap!
Floe Lake is a beautiful emerald colour that is the perfect reward for hiking along the Rockwall trail! It is easy to see why it is so popular. It is possible to visit as a day hike (19-20km) but the majority of hikers camp here overnight. As the camping spots are limited, this means it the lake is never crazily busy.
Floe Lake views
Is this view not stunning!? Floe Peak will completely fill up your field of view. When you take photos, you can only fit parts of the view in your camera! I had to stich 8 photos together to make the image below.
If you wake up early in the morning, the glacier reflections in Floe Lake are spectacular.
Floe Lake in the day time vs sunrise
Although I loved seeing the turquoise waters of the lake in the afternoon, somehow the views are even more magical early in the morning. Floe Peak shone with a bright golden light while we ate breakfast. The lake was so calm that the mountain reflections were perfect.
Numa Creek to Floe Lake Panoramas
I honestly think this is one of best trails I have ever experienced. I’ll finish with a few more panoramas to show off just how expansive the views can be.
The hike from Numa Creek to Floe Lake is glorious. This was one of the best days I had in 2022. So I was so grateful to have been able to enjoy it with friends. Have you heard of the Rockwall trail before? If not, now you’ve seen this part of it, do you like the idea of a long-distance backpacking Canadian adventure?