The Rock – Anyone who keeps in good shape in Nelson does Pulpit Rock regularly – possibly every day. Easily the most popular walk in this e-book, it is done by thousands – it’s short, snow free most of the year and conveniently close to Nelson. You only see forest until the top when Nelson and Kootenay Lake open up in front of you.
Pulpit Rock is on the tip of the south ridge of Mt Nelson – or Elephant Mountain or “the Dome” – as most Nelsonites call it. The height is very deceptive when viewed from Nelson – it is a 3500 foot climb in total and still 1500 feet from the flag pole to the CBC Communication tower.
Bob Dean did a tremendous amount of the work on this trail over the years.
Difficulty: Easy A1
Elevation gain: 300m (984′); 1066m (3500′) to Summitt.
Key elevations: Park 580m (1902′), Pulpit Rock 880m (2886′); Summit Mt Nelson 1738m (5700′)
Distance: 2.6km one-way to the Rock, 7km one-way to the summit.
Time: 1.5-2hrs round-trip to the Rock. 6-8hrs round-trip to summit.
Season: Late March through November.
Assess: Easy, Long day to the summit.
Map: 82F/11 Kokanee Peak, Pulpit Rock Trail Network
Drive: Cross the orange bridge to the north shore of Kootenay Lake’s West Arm. Zero odometer.
0.0 West end of orange bridge.
.3km Turn left onto Johnstone Road, just north of the North Shore Motor Inn.
2.3km Park. 580m (1902′).
Trail: The entrance to the trail is obvious. Ascend the well-graded but steep path that switchbacks up the southwest end of Mount Nelson. Reach the rock in 30 minutes if fast. 880m (2886′)
The trail continues as a sketchy, severely steep trail on the ridge of Mount Nelson. It finally disappears on a 1220m (4002′) bench and the Flagpole, 45-60 minutes from the Rock, but still less than half-way to the summit. The view is great.
From the flagpole, the trail is rough, sometimes with deadfall and climbs over several rocky bluffs, each with its own view. It levels off through bits of forest as you approach the radio tower on Mt Nelson’s 1738m (5700′) summit.
Descend on a faint path to a rock bluff in front of the reflector for views of Nelson and the West Arm far below.