Explore some epic hike-and-brewery pairings with the author of a new book: Beer Hiking: Canadian Rockies.

I approached the first trailhead for my latest book, Beer Hiking: Canadian Rockies in early ’22. What lay ahead for the rest of the year, as I wound my way through fairy forests, summited mountains, and wandered through valleys, were (at least) 30 hikes and 30 craft beers from breweries around both BC and Alberta.

The Rockies are my old stomping grounds — they’re where I grew up. My hometown of Banff was my base, from where I mapped out craft breweries and their hike pairings prior to spending whatever free days I had hitting the road to track, photograph and note take my way through this novel and utterly enjoyable route in the Canadian West. 

The perfect hike-and-brewery pairing has more to do with proximity than serving up the most epic climb, and often offers a unique aspect of either cultural or geographical significance. Choosing favourites is a nearly impossible task but highlighting a few that deliver a variety of both landscapes and ales in BC is a simpler task. 


Stoke Climb (Revelstoke) 14 km  

Known for its long runs and legendary powder, Revelstoke has been on my radar, primarily, as a winter destination. Stepping off the gondola to join the trailhead mid-mountain, mid-summer, at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort can be disorienting. With the Pipe Mountain Coaster descending downward over grassy slopes to one side and mountain bikers propelling themselves down the other side, I sauntered upward towards the sign marked Stoke Climb, and was soon surrounded by old growth in the middle of the world’s only inland temperate rainforest. Although the gain in altitude for this hike is substantial, the path meanders gently through such a variety of terrain, the climb seems — almost — inconsequential. Higher up, as the grade steepens, alpine meadows bursting with wildflowers gave me reason to pause and to soak up the layered diversity of this region. A few switchbacks later, I was delivered to my destination, the sub-summit, with stellar views of the Columbia River valley, the Monashee mountains to the west and the Selkirks to the South.    

Rumpus Beer Co - Revelstoke BC
Rumpus Beer Co. in Revelstoke, BC (photo: Kendall Hunter)

Rumpus Beer Co. 

I found the taproom at Rumpus Beer Co to be a cozy and comfortable place to relax after what amounted to one of my longest hikes. Located in the heart of Revelstoke, it’s named so because the atmosphere is meant to be casual and fun, like that of a rumpus room. It’s solely an on-premise brewery with pints and flights of beer served in-house. The line-up is posted on a blackboard above the bar and frequently erased and replaced with new rotations of draught. You can, however, purchase growlers and crowlers, fill them with what’s on tap, and take them with you. My pick was the citrusy and crisp Space Nugs Pale Ale, one of the draughts that can almost always be found on rotation. 

Another brewery to visit in Revelstoke is Mt. Begbie Brewing. Both breweries can be found on the Kootenay Rockies East Ale Trail.

Creston Marsh Loop - Kendall Hunter
Creston Marsh Loop in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area / Creston, BC (photo: Kendall Hunter)

Creston Marsh Loop and Wildlife Tree Wander: 7.6 km.  

Exploring a river delta wetland wasn’t what I, at first, imagined for a book about hiking in the Rockies, but as I navigated the beautiful and lush Creston Marsh Loop in a valley surrounded by the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges, I knew this impressive region was going to help me showcase the incredible environmental diversity of the Rockies. The loop is located in a 7,000-ha conservation area called the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area. Stepping foot onto the boardwalk at the trailhead, I was greeted by a sudden rustling in the bushes and a menagerie of birdsong. In total, the area is home to 392 different wildlife species including many fish, amphibians, birds, insects, and reptiles as well as deer, moose, elk, and bears.

Creston Marsh Loop - Kendall Hunter
Creston Marsh Loop in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area / Creston, BC (photo: Kendall Hunter)

Early on, I climbed a three-story wildlife lookout tower that provided a spectacular view of the wetlands and surrounding mountains before I continued on the trail through tall grasses, cattails, ponds, and channels. At the back of the loop, I left the marsh area behind to hike among tall and picturesque cottonwood trees on the Wildlife Tree Wander. Look out for a big wooden box called the “bat condo” just before turning back through a corridor of shrubs and trees on a stretch called Beaver Boulevard. It was mid-day and I didn’t see any beaver activity nor turtles lounging about in the mid-day sun so I think I’ll have to return again, some day! 

Wild North Brewing - Creston - Kendall Hunter
Wild North Brewing in Creston, BC (photo: Kendall Hunter)

Wild North Brewing

A tart and jammy Kootenay River Raspberry Sour at Wild North Brewing was exactly what I needed after a hot afternoon walk in the wetlands. Creston locals, and husband and wife team, Lisa and Craig Wood, started Wild North Brewing with four high school friends. Despite Creston being home to the international heavyweight, AB-InBev/Labatt Brewing’s Columbia Brewery, they perceptively recognized a need for a local small-batch craft brewery in the community. In 2021, while in the middle of a global pandemic, they made the decision to provide an enduring gathering place to sip delicious beer and to share stories when their community needed it most. An old transit spot was transformed into a brewery and taproom and they haven’t looked back. 

Wild North Brewing can be found on the Kootenay Rockies East Ale Trail.

Pulpit Rock - Nelson - Kendall Hunter
Pulpit Rock and Nelson Brewing make a great pairing! (photo: Kendall Hunter)

Pulpit Rock (Nelson): 4.1 km

Pulpit Rock is an energetic ascent to panoramic views over the city of Nelson. Dubbed by the locals as a “walk in the park,” I heard that Pulpit Rock has had Nelsonites hiking it for nearly a century since there used to be mining sites on the mountain. The hike runs up the spine of a mountain that locals refer to as Elephant Mountain. The well-worn trail meanders through a series of short switchbacks that efficiently elevate you over 300 metres to an unobstructed view of the city and surrounding mountain ranges. If you don’t have your own hiking poles and you feel you might need some extra support, there’s often a stash of them at the trailhead — yours to borrow on the honour system.

Pulpit Rock - Nelson - Kendall Hunter
Pulpit Rock in Nelson, BC (photo: Kendall Hunter)

This was my final hike for Beer Hiking: Canadian Rockies and a bench solidly perched atop the ridge provided me with the perfect spot to take a load off and to absorb the beer hiking pilgrimage I’d been on for months. 

Nelson Brewing - Kendall Hunter
Nelson Brewing in Nelson, BC (photo: Kendall Hunter)

Nelson Brewing 

This brewery is 125 years old and BC’s largest fully certified organic brewery. In 1892, the original Nelson Brewing and Ice Company was founded in the same building on Latimer Street that today houses the Nelson Brewing Company. Left unoccupied for 40 years in 1956 when the brewery moved a little way down the road to Creston, it eventually reopened in 1991 in its original historical building. I made the choice to crack open a gritty, caramel-y can of Hooligan Pilsner which had the following written on its side: “A classic Pilsner that’s bold and built for adventure.” After a summer of hiking, this author highly agrees! 

To read more about the history of Nelson Brewing check out this blog.

Nelson Brewing can be found on the Kootenay Rockies West Ale Trail.

About the Author – Kendall Hunter

Kendall Hunter

Kendall grew up in Banff National Park in Alberta, and the hiking trails and ski slopes of the area were her backyard playground. She learned to walk and ski simultaneously—frozen diapers and all—when her parents strapped skis to her feet when she was all of 13 months old. Throughout her teenage years, she was a competitive ski racer, training in the French and Italian Alps and on the perennial snowfields of the Pacific Northwest during the off-season, and competing in the Rockies every winter. In Kendall’s final semester as a political science major at the University of Calgary, she worked in Johannesburg as a news photographer for an independent Black newspaper. At the time, South Africa was preparing for its first democratic elections. She was asked by her editor to stay on through the elections, and thus covered one of the most important stories of the 20th century: the demise of apartheid rule in South Africa. Kendall’s first book, Black Taxi: Shooting South Africa, is a photographic memoir about her experience. She wrote her second book Switzerland: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture, for the CultureSmart series while raising a family in Zurich.


Kendall Hunter

She returned to her home-town in the Rockies in 2009 with her two daughters and began working on her next project, a memoir about traveling with her children to meet some of the world’s top women photojournalists. After a few years in Toronto, where she ventured into the start-up world with plans to develop an online platform for traditional artisans, Kendall once again felt the pull of the Rockies. In 2022, she learned about the Beer Hiking series. Realizing that there were few better places for hiking and beer than her old stomping grounds, she headed west to explore the trails and develop a taste for the Rockies’ finest craft beer. When Kendall is not writing, she’s probably doing her next favourite thing: focusing her camera on the paradoxes and natural beauty of the world around her.


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