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Craigellachie & Kay Falls are Two Hidden Gems in BC’s Rocky Mountains

By Carol Stathers

Not long ago we were driving the stretch of Trans-Canada Highway between Sicamous and Revelstoke. En route we had stopped at D Dutchman Dairy for delicious ice cream in Sicamous, so we were feeling like we really needed to get out of the car and stretch our legs. We checked out two sites that are well-worth the visit.

Driving in the Last Spike | Photo: C. Stathers

First stop was Craigellachie, about 25 kilometres east of Sicamous or for those coming west from Revelstoke, it is a 50 kilometre drive.

This is a well-visited tourist hot spot; if not only as a great resting stop, but it has a really cool history. It is the famous site of the “Last Spike”, driven by C.P.R. director Donald Smith in November 1885 marking the completion of Canada’s first transcontinental railway.

The Last Spike Monument | Photo: C. Stathers

At the site there is a large parking lot, easily accessible by big RVs, washrooms, the “Last Spike” memorial, picnic area and even a little shop called the “The Last Spike Store” if you want to pick up some souvenirs. This place can get super busy as it seems to be a favourite stop for tour buses, probably because of the big parking lot and also the rich history.

Craigellachie | Photo: C. Stathers

Speaking of history, railway buffs know this is the spot where the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed after 15 years of hard work.  Of the 30 million iron spikes used to build the C.P.R., you may not know that the last spike was actually bent and twisted by Smith during the ceremony and had to be replaced by another.  This became the official final spike and was later removed and placed in a Canadian museum. Supposedly the original C.P.R. plan was to use a silver spike.  Meanwhile, the United States upon building its first cross-country railway, actually used a 17.6-karat gold spike to seal the deal!  And there is more American influence to the story; the man in charge of the C.P.R. construction was William Van Horne, the general manager from Illinois who actually finished the job in about half the projected time! 

Not much further down the road is a very impressive waterfall called Kay Falls. It was actually quite surprising that we didn’t miss it. I just caught a glimpse of the waterfall on the right side of the road. We pulled over, turned around and needless to say, we were not disappointed. For those looking for more specific directions, it is located about 3.5 kilometres west of the Crazy Creek Resort and will be on your right just as you cross a concrete bridge; if you are approaching from the east, it is just past the Enchanted Forest tourist site. This super easy, short hike is well worth the visit. Little did we know that when we started looking for information on Kay Falls, it has many positive reviews and recommendations to stop.

Kay Falls | Photo: C. Stathers

Once you head along the path and get into the trees, you can barely hear the road traffic. I just stopped and listened to the peaceful sound of the water trickling over the rocks at the start of the trail and then as we meandered up the path, we could hear the loud roar of the falls themselves as the water cascaded down the hillside.  It is definitely a hidden gem!

Kay Falls | Photo: C. Stathers

The Trans-Canada Highway holds many surprises for the traveller, some obvious and some concealed.  Keep your eyes open and enjoy the experience.

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For places to stay in this area and elsewhere in British Columbia, go to travel-british-columbia.com.

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Published: July 9, 2020

Carol Stathers

About the Author

Carol loves being in the outdoors whether it is hiking, camping, kayaking or enjoying time at the lake. With a health background in nursing, she has written for many health-related journals and is also writing a historical non-fiction book about the Peach Valley area of Summerland where she lives. Along with writing, she and her family love camping. She grew up camping on Vancouver Island and has explored many parts of BC with her husband, three kids and their golden retriever. She and her newly-retired husband just upgraded to a newer trailer and are looking forward to more camping adventures throughout British Columbia.

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