Authored & photographed by Abby Kokolski, local resident and trail runner.
My calves were burning and sweat dripped into my eyes as I tried to take in the incredible wildflowers and views laid out ahead. After stopping to catch my breath, I did a slow turn and said for the thousandth time since moving to Radium six years ago, “I can’t believe I live here!”
Radium is a unique place to trail run: it borders Kootenay National Park, slides under the radar as a trail running destination, and most trails (depending on the season and time of day you run) are silent. Mix in the world-class views, and you get a perfect trail cocktail.
Here are a few trail suggestions to get your legs and lungs burning.
Originally called Pacemaker, this little loop of singletrack is just over 3km and circles a large meadow above town. Elevation is minimal, you get views of the Purcell mountains and Bighorn Sheep, and footing is easy.
Make your way up towards Redstreak campground. (For a slow burn, run the road. For a true quad burner, take the trail behind the Visitor Centre.) Turn right at the top of the hill and the trail starts and finishes there by the caged wood pile and large rocks.
I call this one my home loop, and it’s a perfect 10 kilometres. Start from town and run up the highway to the Juniper trailhead just past the Kootenay National Park gate. Take in the smells and sounds of Sinclair Creek before running uphill switchbacks for the next couple kilometres. Once you hit the pool parking lot, run through the underpass towards the main entrance. Take the trail to the campground then choose your adventure from there: cruise down the road, take the Valleyview trail down, or add on the Redstreak Loop (almost 100m elevation in a kilometre) or Pacemaker.
If you’re interested in a mountain trail run, the Kindersley Sinclair Loop is close to town and is a beautifully runnable 18km. Gather up run friends to do this one, as there is a group size restriction due to bear activity.
There are so many adventurous options. Run an out and back to Floe Lake (approx. 20km), or add on Numa Pass for unforgettable views.
Try Hawk Creek and Ball Pass for a rugged run with few, if any, other people (approx. 20km.) If you’re looking for a longer loop (about 30km), keep going to the Vista / Arnica Lake parking area on Highway 93 just inside the Banff National Park boundary. You’ll run by numerous backcountry lakes and ever-changing views.
The Rockwall Trail—a 55-km, point-to-point trail with 2,600m elevation—is truly awe-inspiring and a bucket list run with alpine meadows, the rockwall (a limestone cliff towering into the sky), boulder fields, larch forests, glaciers, and much more.
This is just a small sampling of trail running options in Radium Hot Springs and Kootenay National Park. There are many more here, and around the Columbia Valley.
Take a peek at AllTrails, Trailforks, and Strava for ideas, although they don’t tell the whole story. Look at your running history, comfort on trails and in the mountains, and motivation to choose your next trail run in Radium.
Wondering which trail I was on in the first paragraph? Floe Lake to Numa Pass. The wildflowers pop in July and early August and the views will take your breath away (literally and figuratively!)