The Rim Trail: Everything you Need to Know
Distance: 15.9km loop Elevation Gain: 834 metres Time: 5-8 hours Dog Friendly: No Toilets: None along the trail
The Rim Trail in Cathedral Provincial Park is one of British Columbia’s best day hikes as it passes some really stunning turquoise lakes, interesting rock formations and crazy mountains! The hike is a 15.9km loop with 834 metres elevation and will take you around 5-8 hours depending on how fast of a hiker you are and how long you spend at each of the viewpoints.
The Rim Trail is essentially THE trail that you need to do while in Cathedral Provincial Park. We did the Rim Trail as a day hike and quickly realised why it was the most popular hike in the area. The views along the trail were insane and the trail is a loop so you never see the same viewpoint twice!
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about hiking the Rim Trail, including how long it will take and which viewpoints to spend the most time at along the way. If you are planning your own trip to Cathedral Provincial Park, this guide will help!
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Important Facts About Cathedral Provincial Park
We have a full guide on everything you need to know about Cathedral Provincial Park, but here are a few quick facts.
- The 1 hour long road up to the park is private and you cannot take your own vehicle on it. Instead you will need to book a shuttle with Cathedral Lakes Lodge.
- Dogs are not allowed in Cathedral Provincial Park.
- To stay in the park, you can either camp at one of the 2 campgrounds or book a room of cabin at Cathedral Lakes Lodge.
- Cathedral Provincial Park and Protected Area has more than 33,000 hectares (80,000 acres) of mountain wilderness.
- Cathedral Provincial Park is one of the few places near Vancouver that you can see the Golden Larches during Fall!
- Wildlife in the park consists of mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, bears, wolverines and more!
How Hard is The Rim Trail
The Rim Trail is of moderate difficulty. It does have quite a bit of elevation and some tricky shale sections but mostly the rating is due to the length of the trail. The hike was long enough for my feet and legs to be pretty sore at the end of the day and I was very keen for a soak in one of Cathedral Lakes Lodge’s hot tubs when we got back.
The hardest part of the Rim Trail in my opinion, apart from the length, was the shale section not too far from “Stone City,” one of the points of interest along the trail.
Which Direction to Hike the Rim Trail
You can choose to do the Rim Trial clockwise or counter clockwise. Most hikers choose to do the hike clockwise, starting at Quiniscoe and heading past Ladyslipper Lake.
We went counter-clockwise so that we could spend extra time at Ladyslipper Lake on the way back to the lodge but this meant hiking down a bit of a sketchy shale area. I recommend going clockwise so that you hike up not down the shale area.
Best Viewpoints Along the Rim Trail
Some of the amazing points of interest that the trail passes and I recommend you take your time at are Smokey the Bear, Ladyslipper Lake and Glacier Lake. From the highest point on the trail, you can actually see over to the mountains in the USA.
If you choose to take the clockwise route, you will come to Ladyslipper Lake first. Ladyslipper is a gorgeous turquoise lake surrounded by larches, so in the Fall it is quite spectacular! You can also do an out and back hike to Ladyslipper separately.
Smokey the Bear
Smokey the Bear is a bear shaped rock near the halfway point of the hike. This viewpoint is not part of the loop section of the trail and you will need to do a small out and back to reach it, however it is worth it.
The Giant Cleft
This is a huge split in the mountain which was formed by erosion in the rocks. This viewpoint is further on past Smokey the Bear and we actually decided to head back before seeing it as we were running out of time.
As the name describes, Stone City is a point of interest along the trail with lots of stone piles. Not exactly a viewpoint and not one that made us stop but still worth mentioning for any rock lovers out there.
Our favourite spot along the Rim Trail was Glacier Lake. Glacier Lake can be seen from a few different viewpoints along the trail.
Hiking Attire for the Rim Trail
The weather conditions in Cathedral Provincial Park can be extremely incredible with reportings of snowfall even during Summer! Layers are your best friend for this trail. You will probably get hot hiking up but it can be windy and cold up the top. For a full list of everything we bring along on our day hikes, check out our gear guide!
- Hiking Boots – For this trail, you could wear trail runners or boots, but personally I would recommend hiking boots as they usually have a harder sole making them better for rough terrain. My favourite boots are the Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots and Dave’s favourite boots are his Scarpa Kailash Plus Gore-Tex Backpacking Boots.
- Hiking Socks – Good hiking socks are important to make your boots as comfortable as possible! Some great hiking socks are the Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Light Cushion Crew and the Darn Tough Hiker Midweight with Cushion Micro Crew socks.
- Micro Spikes – Check with the Cathedral Lakes Lodge staff but only bring along micro spikes if the trail is icy. When we went at the end of September 2022, it was still quite warm and hadn’t snowed yet, but this can vary greatly from year to year.
- Merino Top / Tee – Merino is a great material to hike in so we use Merino tops to hike. Our favourite Merino tops are from Icebreaker!
- Fleece – Our favourite fleeces are the Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip (Kerry’s) and a Mac Pac Fleece from Australia (Dave’s).
- Puffer Jacket – We love our puffer jackets to keep warm at the beginning of a walk and then once we are at the viewpoint. Dave’s favourite puffer jacket is the Arcteryx Cerium LT Hoody and Kerry’s favourites are the Eddie Bauer CirrusLite Down Hooded Jacket and Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.
- Rain Jacket – Check the weather before you go, but if there is any rain in the forecast we recommend bringing along raincoats which can also double as a wind breaker.
- Beanie – We never go anywhere in Winter, Spring and Fall without our beanies! Some of our favourites are from Dakine and Eddie Bauer.
Watch out for Mountain Goats!
Cathedral Provincial Park is one of the best places in BC to see Mountain Goats! There are loads of signs warning you to look out for them.
? Fun Fact: Mountain Goats are attracted to the salt in urine which means they may sometimes follow you on the trails, waiting for you to use the green toilet.
We can definitely see why the Rim Trail is the most popular hike in Cathedral Provincial Park! The park is absolutely gorgeous and by hiking the Rim Trail, you get to see a lot of it’s beauty all in one hike!
To plan your own adventure to Cathedral Provincial Park, check out our full guide which contains everything you need to know, including where you can stay and a list of other great hikes in the park.
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