Thor Lake Trail

Rating: 5 stars.

Use: Hiking.

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult depending on destination.

Distance: 6 km return to Thor Lake. Roughly 12 km return to either the Rockgarden Camp or Nifleheim Basin. Roughly 16 km return to Three Island Lake. 

Description: A very ‘important’ access trail to the climbing in the vicinity of Thor Creek. Mount Thor, Mount Nifleheim, Kelly Peak, Gates Peak. This trail is your only option. It also provides an excellent trail to view all of the above named mountains. Whether it is a hike into Thor Lake, the Nifleheim Basin or to the ‘Rockgarden Camp’ at the foot of Kelly Peak, this trail is sure not to disappoint. You can also use this trail to access the spectacular Three Island Lake and Gates Peak. More than likely put in by David P Jones in his quest to climb everything worthy in the Gold Range. The trail is rough but complete. With good route finding skills you won’t have any problems following the trail. One of the most spectacular hiking areas surrounding Revelstoke.

Directions: From Revelstoke head south on Highway 23. A couple of kilometres before you hit the Shelter Bay Ferry Slip turn right onto the Shelter Bay FSR. Hang a right onto the Dry Creek Road until it intersects with the Killeen Road. At the Pingston bridge continue onto the Thor Road. Park at the trailhead. For the most part the roads are in good shape. A little bit overgrown close to the trailhead, if you are concerned about scratching up your fancy new tacoma,  you may want to park at the old logging equipment junk and walk the extra kilometer. Follow the trail to Thor Lake. If you want to head up to Niflheim Basin, cross the log jam visible just as you reach Thor Lake. For the Rockgarden proceed along the north shore of Thor Lake across the Flats. Trail disappears here and there but is easy to find again. For Three Island Lake take a right at the fork prior to the Rockgarden. 

Trailhead GPS:

  1. Shelter Bay FSR: N50 38.857 W117 55.993
  2. Dry Creek Road: N50 37.730 W117 56.509
  3. Killeen Road: N50 39.869 W118 00.087
  4. Thor Road: N50 36.810 W118 02.076
  5. Thor Lake trailhead: N50 37.747 W118 04.941

Useful Maps: Backroads Mapbook.

Thor Lake Trail Overview Map PDF

Thor Lake Trail Detail Map PDF

Thor Lake Trail KML file on Dropbox

The log crossing on the Thor Lake Trail. Ben Wilkey Collection.
The log crossing on the Thor Lake Trail. Ben Wilkey Collection.
The trail to the lake gets a little hard to find at times. Ben Wilkey Collection.
The trail to the lake gets a little hard to find at times. Ben Wilkey Collection.
The first glimpse of Mount Thor. Ben Wilkey Collection.
The first glimpse of Mount Thor. Ben Wilkey Collection.
The log jam crossing that leads to the Nifleheim Basin. Ben Wilkey Collection.
The log jam crossing that leads to the Nifleheim Basin. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Below the Niflheim Basin. Michael Watson Collection.
Below the Niflheim Basin. Michael Watson Collection.
Thor Lake and the Stegosaurous Ridge. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Thor Lake and the Stegosaurous Ridge. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Thor Lake. Looking west to Horsefly Peak. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Thor Lake and Horsefly Peak. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Seb Werner crosses an unmarked section of the trail enroute the Rockgarden. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Seb Werner crosses an unmarked section of the trail enroute the Rockgarden. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Approaching the Rockgarden with Kelly Peak in the background. Michael Watson Collection.
Approaching the Rockgarden with Kelly Peak in the background. Michael Watson Collection.
The Rockgarden Camp. Michael Watson Collection.
The Rockgarden Camp. Michael Watson Collection.
Seb Werner scoping lines through the crevasses on the Kelly Glacier. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Seb Werner scoping ski lines through the crevasses on the Kelly Glacier. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Kelly Peak. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Kelly Peak. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Hiking to Three Island Lake in the Gold Range of the Monashee Mountains. Alex Cooper Collection.
Hiking to Three Island Lake in the Gold Range of the Monashee Mountains. Alex Cooper Collection.
Hiking to Three Island Lake in the Gold Range of the Monashee Mountains. Alex Cooper Collection.
Hiking to Three Island Lake in the Gold Range of the Monashee Mountains. Alex Cooper Collection.
Three Island Lake in the Gold Range of the Monashee Mountains. Alex Cooper Collection.
Three Island Lake in the Gold Range of the Monashee Mountains. Alex Cooper Collection.

41 thoughts on “Thor Lake Trail

  1. I made it to the third destination in this area today. It’s called Three Island Lake, and you’ll see a sign pointing your way there on the way to the Rock Garden. It’s a tough hike, up steep slopes, through alder and boulder fields. It adds about 4 kilometres each way to the hike, plus a good amount of elevation gain. That said, it’s completely worth the effort once you reach the alpine. As I said while up there, every time you turn a corner, there’s another spectacular view.

  2. We made it to the Rock Garden this past weekend and it was quite the challenge. River crossings difficult due to high water and very wet and boggy past Thor lake. Snow covered a bit before the junction to 3 island lake. Followed grizzly tracks in the snow to the rock garden. A fun adventure with lots of route finding but easy to follow the valleys and creeks. Outstanding views, i will definitely be coming back later in the season.

  3. My friends and I have worked on the trail as well as the brush clearing of the road for several years now, as a matter of fact I was in there working on road clearing and the trail to Thor lake two weeks ago. The re-grow on the road to the trail head is somewhat over whelming for 1 or two people. Could we organize a ” friends of Thor Creek ” volunteer day? Many hands make for light work so they say ,It wouldn’t take even a half day if we could gather 10 to 15 people with pruners/ loppers/ hand saws or perhaps a grub hoe? I’ll be there for sure if some one can organize a day? As past president of the Central Okanagan Naturalists Club I could possibly gather a few club members to assist?

  4. As of today (August 22, 2015) the Pingston bridge is closed for rebuilding fyi.

    Beautiful up there. Thanks for the write up!

  5. On the Labour day weekend (Sept. 4/5/6/7 ), a friend and I made our way up Thor Creek past the lake and camped at the junction of the rock garden/ 3 island lake trails. The next morning we proceeded up to the big rock area below 3 island lake and camped for the second night. We carried a chain saw and several tools and managed to remove almost all of the remaining trees etc. from the trail (there were two or three that were too big for my saw , but in general we made passage on the trails much easier. We hung additional signage, reflagged with fresh tape and even staightened out a confusing section of trail between the top of the headwall and Big Rock. We sawed, flagged and cleared trail some 300 or so yards above Big Rock right to the waterfall as well.
    As a bit of history, the first person to put this trail into this area was Leon Blummer. a good friend of mine here in Kelowna, Leon estimates that he first entered this valley in the mid 80’s. He climbed everything to be had in there and moved on.

    1. Thanks for the trail into this great area. I went in Sept 11, there is a sign saying road closed but the bridge is complete. I lost my ice ax somewhere along the trail:( I went up Gates E2 which was a nice summit

    1. I drove up there yesterday to the trailhead to check the condition of the road and to see how much snow was still around. The drive up was clear besides a patch of snow 200 feet before the trailhead. From what I gathered the trail looked like it would be good to go, but I would expect a few patches here and there of snow. I’m hoping to go back up and camp for a couple nights without the next week. I will give an update if I make it up.

      1. Thanks for the information. I want to go to 3 Islands Lake so I’ll wait a bit more until the snow has melted at higher elevation.

  6. Craig Lewis and I made our pilgrimage to 3 Island on July 22 to 25/ 2016. The road is open and conditions are good. The loggers brushcutter has thankfully knocked back the alder along the road almost to the trailhead. We were hoping they would take pity on us and go all the way but without some advocacy that is not going to happen.
    We spent some time grooming on the trail, although there remains 4-5 big dead falls on the walk to Thor Lake. Although we saw only one other intrepid soul headed to Gates there was lots of signs of other hikers.
    On this trip we headed south to what this website calls Horsefly Peak. It is a fabulous 4th class trip. Is this a skier’s name?
    It is probably too late but does anyone know about the logging plan for Thor Creek Basin? Is it a small business license? Anyway, we are grateful for the road improvements to this important trailhead.
    Also, Richard, I have been up Gates 3 times since 1994. What is E2?

    1. That was me headed to Gates, haha! Guessing you two made it out before the thunderstorms that night? I did ski the glacier (did not attempt to summit Gates, will have to return for that…) then climbed a few ridges heading north and headed out Avalanche Lake/Pingston Lake valley way. Nice traverse.

      According to Google Earth Gates E2 is the summit to the east of the col that takes you onto the glacier

  7. I hiked this trail over the weekend to the Rock Garden. Was able to drive a Prius all the way to the trailhead (slightly bottomed out the car on the last kilometer of the road only, but that was solved after my passengers exited the vehicle giving me an inch or so more clearance). The trail was very well marked and maintained to the Three Island Lake Y. After that if you are headed to the rock garden there is some sporadic flagging tape but you will need to use your topo map and very basic route finding skills to arrive at the rock garden since the trail is very overgrown and indiscernible at some points, though the route is dead simple.

    I was really impressed with how well the trail was maintained – so kudos to those who have put so much work into it.

  8. Has anyone been up there this year(2018)?
    Is the log crossing of Thor Creek near the bottom still intact?

    1. Trail is in good shape to log jam at Thor Lake. Last 500 m of road are impassable due to aftermath of avalanche.

      1. Thanks, Cam,
        That will reduce our anxiety when we head up there on Friday.
        The last bit of road had been getting pretty overgrown anyway.

      2. Weather looks pretty unsettled this weekend with a cold front forecast for Friday/Saturday… hopefully at least the smoke will clear out for you, it was getting quite hazy up there.

        I spent 3 days up in the alpine there last weekend, and can confirm the trail is in decent shape other than the usual overgrowth and deadfall. Avalanche activity looks like it was quite destructive this spring – I saw lots of areas with mature timber smashed, and still lots of snow deposits in the valley bottoms.


      3. Great pic Matt. I’m thinking it is looking west with Gates on the right?
        Thanks for the weather heads up. We will postpone. We missed getting into Thor last year but now the itch is back!

      4. Yes, good eye, you’re right! – looking east though. (That is one of the outflow lakes of the Gates glacier)

        Good call on postponing, if you have the flexibility to go mid week maybe you will find favourable weather and better views then once it clears up again? Good luck and hope to hear how it goes 🙂

  9. Has anyone misplaced a Green Black Diamond Ice Pick? Found last weekend on the flats by the creek just below Three Island lake. I would like to return it to the original owner!

  10. Craig, Keith and I went up to Thor/Niflheim basin last week Aug 17-20. As Cam reports above the FSR road is blocked the last 4-500m by avalanche debris. No big deal and also we were able to chainsaw a foot path thru it before we left.
    We found a camera at the trail head. Let me know if it is yours.
    The wildfire smoke was quite unpleasant but the trail is good. As expected the first 1km through the clear cut is starting to close in. On this trip we did very little trail work but if you go consider taking a pruning shear and help us keep it open!
    Water levels were low, the log jam crossing is good and there were only a couple newer nasty dead fall snags below the Bear Den Notch just below the cirque.
    From our camp at the lower (north) end of the basin we tried rather unsuccessfully to find a good way up onto the long N. ridge of Nifleheim. We crossed the big snow bridge and went directly up the Mt. Laurel infested steep talus to the visible left to right vegetated ledge and weaknesses thru the long lower rock band on the west side of the basin. From here we were able to go steeply up to the long N. ridge (which is superb).
    The next day we tried going up thru the rock band several 100m to the N. but it was worse, don’t try it. We descended by our earlier route and marked the better route slightly with orange ribbon. I make no claim that this is the best route to the N. ridge.
    *****I post this with some hesitation. This is a very special area a deserves to be treated in the most gentle way possible. The wildness here is palatable and a privilege. I hope that if you go here you can tread lightly.

    1. Hi there, I haven’t been up this trail for a few years. and I’m wondering if the stream crossing is still in place ? Hoping to go soon.

      1. Craig, or anyone reading this, do you have any recording or knowledge of the trail on the other side of thor creek that runs up to Riley Lake?
        This trail is truly abandoned yet there was recent flagging to follow up to a certain point..maybe 2.5km and then I loose it.
        I’ve gone and opened up the trail a bit with shears and a saw, but without having some guideline on the trails destination, full recovery will be tedious.

      2. Adam, To my knowledge there was not an existing trail up to Riley Lake. Could the trail possibly be a new one that someone is putting in? Is it possible for you to send me a gpx file of the trail you opened up?

      3. On Aug. 3-6, 2020, Craig and I went up and continued to clear the historic old trail up Thor creek. It is now in good shape all the way from the new trail head to the Rock Garden/Three Island lake fork. The new trail head is on the avalanche blocked road 300 m before the old TH.
        Adam, I’m not sure about what you call Riley Lake. Could this be what mountaineers call Loony Leon Lake which is on the northern branch of Thor Creek (to the right). I know Leon Blumer worked on a trail there in the early 90’s. Before the log was dropped across (South) Thor Creek and before the logging block that the trail now goes thru was cut, you had to either cross on a very sketchy log jam at the top of the clear cut or take Leon’s old trail. This earlier TH was in an old block on the north side of the larger, main Thor Creek. It was marked with soup can lids painted white.
        You crossed on the still good bridge. Above the north and south Thor creek junction you had to stay to the left to stay on the main trail and get to where the “new ” log crossing now is. A fork to the right took you up on the possibly unfinished trail to Loony Leons Lake.
        Does this make any sense? L. L. Lake is north of Hughes Peak. He called it Loony because really why would anyone with summit aspirations want to go there?
        At any rate, after one year’s absence Craig and I were disappointed with all the new growth and dead fall on the trail. Up to the Rock Garden/ 3Island Lake fork we cut out over 36 fallen trees and lopped a ton of alder etc. off the lower parts.
        Good news is now it is again well labeled and clear. Bad news is after 10 years plus keeping this wonderful route alive, we are both getting old. Not sure how much longer we can keep it up.
        The trail was built by mountaineers, for mountaineers and maintained by mountaineers for maybe 50 years. Untold numbers of fine trips to these summits and alplands have walked this foot path. In only a few short years nature will reclaim it if younger people don’t keep it clear. It doesn’t take much to take a pair of hand pruners an do a bit of nipping on your walk or drag some dead fall off or hang some fresh ribbon.
        Well this post is long enough. Let me know what you think. And Adam, where is Riley Lake anyway???

      4. Doug, all it not lost. There is a recently formed a Alpine Club of Canada Columbia Mountains Section. Based in Revelstoke. I am one of the founding members and one of the reasons for my interest in getting involved was to use the non profit club as a vehicle to apply for grant funding and take stewardship of the trails around Revelstoke so that trails such as this are not lost. I am a born and raised Revelstoke resident for the past 45 years and I value trails like this as much as you do. We have just signed partnership agreements with BC Rec Sites and Trails for Mount Begbie and McCrae peak. To date there has not been any user group in the area that has taken this on. The plan is to start with the obvious close to home trails that are already recognized, then start hitting the trails that already exist but are not recognized on any government maps. Trails similar to this one. We are only just getting going but momentum is building and I am hopeful within a few years we will have a strong number of organized volunteers that will be able to maintain trails such as Thor. Although I am not young either I have a few years to left to put into this!

      5. That is great to hear sitka ! This is the kind of thing it seems needs to be done in our modern world. The old days of seat of your pants dirtbag just do it are over and we need more people in the mountains like yourself to help get things done and more importantly to do it properly and sensitively. The need for these trails and experiences is greater than ever before. ( I think even more than way back when the ACC was founded in Winnipeg!)
        Please keep us posted, Doug

      6. It sounds like you’ve got the right trail in mind Doug. The north side of Thor Creek. Google maps has this lake, which is south of Hughes Peak labled as RIley Lake.
        Thanks for all the info and for all the trail maintenance that you all do.
        i’m much more active on that side of things this year

    1. Craig
      As Doug says , the trail is as good as it will be all year , right now , so if you’ve ever wanted to check it out the time is now. I came across 4 elk on the drive up. Doug and I cleared a lot of alder off the roadway and fashioned a turn around area and a crude camp spot. I regret that I was unable to reach 3 Island lake this time around but i think the trail should be passable. I was pretty burnt out by the time I made it to the Rock Garden/3 island junction. I doubt that I will go back to this beautiful part of B.C. again but If anyone were to put together a “Friends of Thor Creek” group and plan a trail grooming day or two I would certainly show up to help.
      Please folks don’t let this “classic mountaineering trail be swallowed up by Mother Nature

      1. Oh and as a ps. if anyone should find a right Black Diamond gaiter on the trail, I would like to reconnect it to it’s mate. cheers

  11. Oh yes Adam Looney Leon Lake is south not north of Hughes and probably is also Riley……….Doug

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