The view on the way to Rockwall Pass.

This is a 4 to 5 day traverse over 34 miles along very scenic views in the Rocky Mountains. Kootenay National Park is not as well known as its famous neighbour, Banff National Park and this might be due to the fact that it offers very little car access to its attractions, unlike Banff. I went on this hike with Michelle to whom I owe great credit for giving me the backcountry skills needed to achieve such multi-day hikes. My longest hike so far had been a 3 day hike to Mount Assiniboine and I afterwards realised after preparing and hiking with Michelle how I had carried a uselessly heavy pack, how I brought the wrong food and how really ill-equiped for and ill-informed about backcountry camping I had been up until we prepared for and walked the Rockwall.

Ranger cabin at Helmet Falls camp.
Between Limestone Peak and Rockwall Pass.

Tumbling Pass

One must pay for a backcountry pass and pay fees for camp sites along the trail. Camp sites can be reserved in advanced but unfortunately (at least at the time of this writing), the Parks Canada web site does not provide for online reservations for backcountry camping. Our original plan did not call to hike the Rockwall but Michelle suggested we do that instead and I agreed (Michelle later disclosed to me that she did this for my benefit knowing that this had been high on my bucket list). So Michelle and I went over to Radium Hot Springs to make our reservations.

Floe Lake at dawn from Numa Pass

I would recommend reserving in advance but we were there after the Labour Day weekend and park officials had told me over the phone that reservations are not really needed after that weekend when I had called for reservations at another location in Banff (understand that this is not a garantee of getting a spot however). There is also another issue with going over the Rockwall trail: if one is to do the entire trail, there is a 8 miles walk along route 93 from one end of the trail to the other. So it is technically a loop but one must allow for the possibility of walking an extra 8 miles when planning this trip (trail descriptions will mention it is 34 miles but might omit this extra 8 miles). We decided to start at the Paint Pots trail head to end at the Floe Lake trail head parking; we were lucky to get a ride from the Floe Lake parking back to the Paint Pots. Also, I recommend getting the latest information about trail closures. There are two trails that branch out of the Rockwall trail to route 93; this allows for an early exit of the Rockwall trail should some situation arise that require aborting the hike but also allows reaching points of interest by doing a single day hike or only an overnight. One such trail (Numa Creek) was closed due to a bridge being out of service.