Source of the Columbia River

The Source of the Columbia Trail

The source of the fourth largest river system in North America starts here within the Village of Canal Flats.  Bubbling out of the ground from deep springs, and filling Columbia Lake with its awe inspiring jade blue green colour, the mighty Columbia River is turned loose, flowing north, then turning south and west and finally emptying into the Pacific Ocean, over a 2500 km journey. 

The Source of the Columbia Trail winds 1.5 km through the wetlands.  Just off the trail, wildflowers, insects, birds and wildlife can be seen.  Poplars, spruce and willows line the pathway.  Large patches of cattails and water grasses also grow as they have for thousands of years.  When you reach the end of the loop, spend some time on the foot bridge.  Here, many waterfowl, eagles, hawks and song birds can be seen.  Keep following the Trail to its conclusion and witness the water bubbling from the ground.

Since the early 1900’s the Columbia River has experienced many changes, diversions and tribulations.  Dams have flooded valley bottoms, providing valued hydro electricity to Canada and United States. The River has also been extensively used for irrigation purposes and, sadly as a means to rid communities and industry of waste.  The Columbia River that meets the Pacific is a much different river than the pristine waters we experience at the headwaters.  It is our duty, as it is every community, to protect and preserve to ensure wildlife and people can experience water and nature as pure as found here.

The Village of Canal Flats is currently waiting for funding approval from various sources for continuing capital works surrounding the trail project.  To complete the trail system, a viewing platform will be built at the physical source of the Columbia for visitors to view the bubbling from the ground and a fence will be installed at the trailhead to keep unauthorized motorized vehicles and horses from the pathway.  The parking lot will be upgraded and washrooms installed.  Also waiting for funding approval is the building of a pathway and boardwalk north from the trailhead to the wetlands of the Columbia Lake with a viewing platform of the lake.  A few Memorial Benches have been installed along the walkway.  Donations for benches can be made at the Village office.

The Village of Canal Flats would like to thank the following sponsors:

Columbia River Greenways Alliance


Columbia Basin Trust

Mark Kingsbury Foundation 

Ducks Unlimited

***The Source of the Columbia Trail is located on the west end of Beatty Avenue. You can find a Visitor Map here.