2016 Pulpit Rock Society


The trail’s origins are murky, but it probably dates back close a century. While the name Pulpit Rock doesn’t show up until 1923, by the early 20th century, hikers were already clambering up the steep hillside. Jack Hume, whose family lived on the North Shore, recalled: “It seemed that every group or individual who came across the lake to climb to Pulpit Rock would monkey with the valves in our reservoir.”

Coal Oil Johnny

Whether he built the original trail is unknown, but Francis Holland was likely its most frequent user. Arriving in Nelson in 1896, he worked several claims above and below Pulpit Rock. To finance his operation, Holland bought coal oil in bulk and resold it, earning him the nickname Coal Oil Johnny. The light from his cabin could be seen across the lake, a beacon to his determination. Coal Oil Johnny died without striking ore.

This is a photo of one of the abandoned mineshafts near the Pulpit Rock Look-out. Taken October 2014. There are at least two other mineshafts located near this one. All are considered dangerous and should only be approached with caution.

Coal Oil Johnny's Pulpit Rock Mineshaft

Redeveloping the Trail

In the 1920s, the Rod and Gun Club called for the area around Pulpit Rock to be set aside as a wildlife sanctuary, but nothing came of it. The trail remained extremely steep and hard to find until the 1980s when the Chamber of Commerce organized the construction of a new gentler route.In the decade of the 1990′s-individuals such as Dave Clark took it upon himself to make improvements to the Pulpit Rock Trail. In the later 90s, Bob Dean and Ted Ibrahim reflagged and cut a new Flagpole Trail from Coal Oil Johnnie’s mine hole to the top. In 1999, Dave Clark with the help of David Cunningham took 3 days to flag a new trail from the Flagpole to halfway to the towers. Along with a group of volunteers, they spent 2 days cutting the trail. Bob Dean continued to flag the new trail and organize help to cut it (mostly from the Kootenay Mountaineering Club). By the end of the 2000 hiking season, the trail was almost complete., In 2008, private property concerns led to the temporary closure of the trail and the creation of the Friends of Pulpit Rock Society. The Society, in partnership with Al Dawson a long-time RDCK director, organized the purchase of permanent legal access to the trail, trail upgrades and construction of the parking area.


 If you are a Pulpit Rock user, you have appreciated the trail upgrades that happened over the summer of 2015.

Please consider joining the Pulpit Rock Society.

2016 Pulpir Rock DirectorsDonations to Pulpit Rock Society

All the directors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Don Lyon, who was the President of the Pulpit Rock Society in 2013. He was a big part of the Pulpit Team and is dearly missed. He died on October 9th 2013