Rossland, British Columbia is a fantastic mountain town located in the south-central part of the province. It’s a year-round outdoor lover’s paradise. In winter, Rossland is well known for world-class skiing and snowboarding at RED Mountain Resort. Come summer and fall, it shines with the hiking and mountain biking crowd.
The former gold-mining town is growing in the wake of COVID, with people moving here to enjoy easy access to nature, a laidback lifestyle in a spectacular setting, along with many of the amenities they find in a city including locally owned coffee shops, restaurants, a microbrewery, and a phenomenal grocery store – all without the crowds. Visitors love it for the same reasons.
In just three days in summer or fall – sometimes even in spring, you can do everything I’m suggesting below and if you have more time, add another hike or bike ride.
Summary of things to do in Rossland in fall (and summer)
- Rossland, BC has been called the Mountain Biking Capital of Canada with the Seven Summits Trail a premier though challenging bike ride (or hike).
- Check out over 200 kilometres of maintained and signed multi-use single track that will appeal to runners, hikers, and mountain bikers alike.
- Rossland is home to the Rossland Range Cabins – which can be explored on foot or by bike from Strawberry Pass.
- Nearby Nancy Green Provincial Park is a year-round destination for hiking.
- Look for majestic giant trees that will take your breath away in Hundred Acre Woods.
- Hike up Old Glory Mountain, the highest mountain at 2377 metres in the Rossland area. Enjoy lunch at the Old Glory Lookout Cabin.
- In town, be charmed by the colourful, historical buildings – via a self-guided walking tour. Did you know that Rossland was incorporated as a city in 1897?
- Get a history lesson at the Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre.
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The best time to visit Rossland
Rossland is on British Columbia’s Powder Highway, so it needs no introduction in winter. But I’m not so sure that people know that it’s a great destination in summer and fall. Summer arrives by late May and sticks around till early September. Enjoy warm days, cool nights, and fall colours from mid-September until late October or early November.
How to get to Rossland
Rossland is in south-central British Columbia. The closest Canadian city is Castlegar, about a 30-minute drive away. The town of Trail is only a 15-minute drive away and Spokane, Washington is just under 3 hours away.
Rossland does not have an airport but you can fly into Castlegar, Trail (from Vancouver only) or Spokane and then rent a car or catch a shuttle. The shuttle also services Kelowna and Cranbrook.
Map of things to do in Rossland, BC in summer and fall
Check out the Rossland Range Cabins
The Rossland Range Cabins, accessed from the parking lot at Strawberry Pass on Highway 3B, are day-use only cabins and a perfect destination at any time of the year. Visit to hang out and enjoy the view or to warm-up on a cold day.
You’ll find excellent signage and maps at the trailhead and at most every intersection. Put on your hiking boots (or snowshoes in winter), choose a cabin to visit and enjoy the exercise, the beauty, and the views. At the cabins you can warm up by building a fire in a wood stove – with firewood provided. There is also an outhouse at the cabins.
I was sorry I didn’t allow more time so I could do a bigger loop and include the Sunspot Cabin. I did check out Booty’s Cabin which you can get to via an accessible, flat gravel trail.
From Booty’s it was only about a 20-minute walk to get up to the Eagle’s Nest Cabin. Try to time your visit to catch sunset – but don’t forget a good flashlight so you can find your way back down in the dark. I loved Eagle’s Nest Cabin, especially the view with the only thing missing – a steaming cup of coffee and a freshly baked good.
Hike up Old Glory Mountain – the highest peak near Rossland
One of the premier hikes in the Rossland area is the one to the summit of Old Glory Mountain where you’ll find a decommissioned fire lookout cabin that also functioned as a weather station from the 1940’s to ’60’s. The forestry lookout and weather station cabin were manned for years by Wilfred and Ruth Gifford. At the trailhead there’s a very interesting sign explaining all that was required for them to live up here. Today apart from the cabin, there are rusted scraps like an old wringer washer, and a broken stone foundation.
The trailhead is easy to find. Drive 10.6 km north on Highway 3B from the Rossland Museum to reach a parking lot on the west or left-hand side of the highway. There is a map there and some interpretive panels.
Old Glory Mountain is a full day hike. You can do it as a loop hike, heading 4.8 km up the steeper Plewman Trail and down 6.8 km on the gentler Old Glory – Seven Summits Trail. Or do and out and back on either trail but beware it’s along day no matter what route you choose, especially if it’s sunny and hot. From Unnecessary Ridge, it’s still another 3 km up to the summit via a route that isn’t immediately obvious as it’s on the backside on the mountain where the grade is far gentler.
In total you will hike a minimum of 15.6 km return if you do an out and back via Plewman Ridge (which is what I did and I didn’t find it as steep as many reports suggested). If you hike up Plewman and down Old Glory, you’re looking at 17.6 km. Both routes have an elevation gain and loss of 1145 metres or 3757 feet. The trail is rated as difficult and requires 6 – 8 hours of hiking time.
I think the hike is a standout for the views – but in fall the colours add a whole other dimension especially when you happen on patches of bright red foliage.
Visit 100 Acre Wood and walk among giant old-growth trees
100 Acre Wood near Rossland was found by ATCO Forest Products and deemed worth saving because of all the old growth trees. With the help of Rossland’s Lion’s Club, a 2.7-kilometre loop trail was built that takes you through a diverse forest full of stands of larch, white pine, fir, hemlock, cedar, and spruce. It’s a magical spot to walk with loads of very old, very large trees that reach for the sky. It’s a fantastic place for anyone of any age to visit. Slow down, engage your senses, relax on the one bench, and be awed by the quiet and beauty of this small forest.
You’ll find parking for 100 Acre Wood just off Highway 3B here. Either park at the top in a large obvious clearing or drive down a narrow, somewhat bumpy road to the trailhead that is signed, about 75 metres from the highway. It can’t be more than a kilometre from the highway in total.
Go mountain biking
I joined a group of women who are part of the local Mudd Bunnies chapter – a women focussed biking club. I spent a few hours one evening with them – initially with some trepidation – as they all looked to be half my age and I wondered how I’d keep up or worse, disgrace myself and not even be able to finish the Larch Ridge – Monticola Loop.
In the end, it was a wonderful few hours of mountain biking with the most welcoming group of women. They kindly waited and stopped so I could catch up as I was certainly not in the same league as any of them. Still, I had fun, which is the most important thing, and I can see how they get hooked – with the friendship, camaraderie and an evening of exercise. To give you an idea of what we biked check out this reel on Instagram.
Rossland has mountain biking trails for all abilities. The most famous one is called the Seven Summits Trail – and it draws people from around the world. It’s been recognized by IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) as an epic trail. I would hike it (and you can as it’s a shared trail) but you won’t find me biking it.
You can rent bikes in Rossland at Revolution Cycles. My bike was excellent, and it came with a helmet and spare inner tube. You can also organize mountain bike shuttles to some of the best-known trails through this website.
Visit Nancy Greene Lake Provincial Park
Nancy Green Lake Provincial Park is a roadside park located at the junction of Highways 3 and 3B. If you’re driving in the area, it’s the perfect spot to pull off, stretch your legs and enjoy a sub-alpine lake. The park, established in 1972, is named for famed Olympic skier (and former senator), Nancy Greene.
While you could just wander down to a sandy beach and perhaps go for a swim, there is the option to do an easy 5-kilometre loop hike around the lake. I did just that in about 75 minutes, stopping to enjoy some ducks and the vistas along the way. The trail follows the shoreline so you can start at either end of the beach. You’ll walk through one marshy area and a mixed forest with numerous large pines, fir and spruce – along with some larch. Dogs are welcome on the trail, but they must be leashed.
Do a self-guided walking tour of Rossland
If you’ve got an hour to spare, wander up to the Gold Rush Book Store and pick up a brochure for a self-guided walking tour of the heritage buildings in Rossland. At the same time, I highly recommend spending some time checking out the bookstore as they have one heck of a well curated selection of books.
I did walk around Rossland following the brochure from start to finish. The overall experience of walking the streets looking for plaques raised my awareness of how many buildings have historical status. Most seemed to have been built in the late 1800’s and have changed many hands over the last 100 plus years.
Visit the Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre
You can’t miss the Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre if you’re driving Highway 3B and Highway 22 at the western edge of Rossland. There’s a huge piece of mining equipment outside – a rope driven compressor on the grounds. Inside, there are displays reflecting the social, cultural and sport history of Rossland along with lots of information of the geology and industry of the area. There is a whole room dedicated to bottles of an era which I found interesting as was the Red Mountain skiing history.
Depending on your interests, you could spend a half hour to several hours in the museum. Check ahead to confirm opening hours.
Where to eat in Rossland, BC
For a population of approximately 4,100, Rossland has plenty to offer locals and visitors alike. I didn’t try every restaurant, but I can recommend the following.
Start your day with a delicious coffee and baked good at Alpine Grind on Columbia Avenue. Your other choice is the Seven Summits Coffee Company. Although they don’t have nearly the same selection of food, their coffee is great.
If you want to pick up prepared foods and snacks for lunch, head to Ferraro Foods – a grocery store on the main street in town that has everything you could ever want.
Need a sugar pick me up or you just love ice cream? Check out the Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company.
For a high end dinner in a beautiful restaurant, head up to The Velvet Restaurant and Lounge in the Josie Hotel up at the ski resort. The halibut and yams pictured below were fantastic.
Head to the Flying Steamshovel Inn & Gastropub for delicious burgers, tacos (see below), poke bowls, fish and chips and other such comfort food.
Gabriella’s Dining Room is a solid choice if you’re in the mood for pizza or Italian food. They also do coffee and full breakfasts.
I didn’t get take-out at Underbelly Bistro, but several people I met mentioned that it is yummy.
Where to stay in Rossland
The Josie Hotel up at Red Mountain Resort is a fantastic place to stay. Many rooms have views out to the ski hills – which in summer are covered in wildflowers. If you want to stay out of town, this is the place to be.
In town I highly recommend The Flying Steamshovel Inn. The rooms are freshly renovated, with a bright clean aesthetic. I absolutely loved my room – which came with a kitchen, eating area and sitting room.
Further reading on things to do in the Kootenays
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