You know that image you have in your mind of the perfect natural hot springs? Set in a beautiful forest full of cedar and hemlock trees, the natural rock pools of St. Leon could bring that image to life.
The hot springs consist of a large warm pool that has been enhanced by a cobbled concrete lining, a smaller and slightly warmer pool adjacent to the large one, and one small pool above the others that is quite hot. There is a rustic changing shelter on site. There are no toilet facilities available.
The hot springs are located on private property, although the public has accessed it for years. A few years ago, the area immediately around the hot springs became very messy with litter and human waste. A dedicated group of local volunteers cleaned up the mess and now maintains the pools regularly as well.
There are two ways to access St. Leon hot springs. The first option is to drive in on a gated gravel road for about 3.5km from the highway leading most of the way to the hot springs, ending with a short, steep and rugged walk down to the pools that will take about 10 minutes. Parking is at a wide pullout on the gravel road, from there look for a well worn trail leading down to the hot springs. The yellow gate at the highway was locked for about a year from 2016 to 2017 partly because of the human waste and litter, but now it is left unlocked again. The road is not plowed in the winter, you could ski tour/split board or snowshoe up the road.
The other option is to park at a chained off old skid road right at the highway and take a scenic 3km route in on foot. Aside from a steep hill at the start, this wide gentle path undulates through the peaceful forest. The small parking area is just south of the highway bridge going over St. Leon River, on the east side of the highway. It is typically accessed by walking when there is no snow, or snowshoeing or ski touring/split boarding when there is snow.
RAD adventure tip- it is UBER busy around the festival season, especially Shambhala. Weekdays are generally less busy, but expect to have company in the hot pools on most days.
May St. Leon provide you with the best forest bathing experience you could ask for!
When to go: anytime
Trip rating: A1
From Nakusp – head North on Highway 23 for about 20 minutes. Turn right onto the gravel road with the yellow gate at the waypoint shown on the map, or continue about 1.5km further North on the highway to reach the small trailhead to access the chained off skid road. If you cross St. Leon River on the highway (also marked with a sign), you’ve gone too far!
From Revelstoke – Take Highway 23S to the Shelter Bay ferry. Catch the ferry across to Galena Bay, then drive about 20 minutes on the highway towards Nakusp. Immediately after crossing the bridge over St. Leon River, the small trailhead to access the chained off skid road will be on the left as indicated by the waypoint shown on the map. Continue about 1.5km further South on the highway to reach the gravel road, also on the left, with a yellow gate. If you reach the highway rest stop with a waterfall, you’ve gone too far!
St. Leon hot springs: 50° 26.037’N, 117° 51.233’W
Yellow gate at start of gravel road: 50° 25.609’N, 117° 53.694’W
Gravel road summer parking access: 50° 25.944’N, 117° 51.219’W
Trailhead to access chained off skid road: 50° 26.349’N, 117° 53.179’W