The Alberni Valley Log Train Trail
The Alberni Valley lies in the interior of Vancouver Island and stretches northwest from Port Alberni at the head of the Alberni Inlet approximately 40 kilometers into the mountains of Strathcona Park. This is the Somass River watershed including Sproat and Great Central Lakes. It is an extremely high value river system for all species of salmon and other fish and was renowned for the stands of large forests of Douglas fir, western red cedar, western hemlock, and balsam.
Today, the lower flat valley bottom is mostly farmland or small rural lots. The sidehills and slopes are primarily private forest lands with less than 10% held as Provincial Crown forest land.
From the start of the nineteenth century until the 1930’s most of the valley bottom and lower mountain slopes were logged using rail grades and locomotives to haul the big timber to mills and ocean ports. The Alberni Valley Log Train trail is one of the legacies of that era which was fortunately protected as a Crown right of way. It went unused for many years but eventually in the late 1980’s was improved and maintained by volunteers and became a significant recreational feature of the Valley.
The Alberni -Clayoquot Regional District has the jurisdiction to govern the trail. Many user groups including the Alberni Valley Chapter of the BCHBC contribute volunteer hours, funding, and seek grants to aid in the improvement or maintenance of the trail. The trail is used by hikers, walkers, pedal and e-bikes, motorcycles, ATVs, and many horse riders.
The main trail is 21 kilometres long and stretches from Highway 4 out into the valley. It is a rail grade and was engineered very well with grades of up to three percent. The old grade is in good shape. Drainage structures are the largest maintenance item.
The trail is at the base of the mountains and is used all year round. Each season brings new beauty. Much of the timber adjacent to the trail is second growth Douglas fir of various sizes and ages with mixed alder, maple, shrubs, and ferns to give the trail a lush and colorful look. There are many open vistas of large farms and the Vancouver Island Mountains.
Areas adjacent to the trail are private, mostly held by a large private forestland owner. There are many unauthorized trails leading from the main trail. The AV BCHBC and other users have a difficult time getting agreement to authorize trails on the private lands and therefore cannot encourage or advertise riding off the main trail except where marked.
The AV Chapter members are proud to support the use and maintenance of the trail for all users but especially equestrians.
The Backcountry Horsemen Of BC, Northwest Chapter
COALMINE CAMP PROJECT
In 2013, our club, BCHBC-NW Began seriously searching for a camp/staging area that club members could use for club events, and riding activities.
In 2017 a site was identified on the banks of the Goat Horn Creek 10 km Southwest of Telkwa.
70 years ago the site was a coal mine processing area.The removal/salvage of one old structure left us with a clean slate for developing a camp/staging area for our club.
The land is owned by a Telkwa Coal Inc. who generously allowed us to develop the area for long-term use.
With the help of a significant Grant from the Wetzin’kwa Forrest Corp., and endless volunteer hours, we have develop the site to a point that it contains:
An arena with horse Shelter
A cabin/clubhouse with attached picnic shelter.
Perimeter and cross fencing.
Seven campsites complete with corrals and running water.
Skills training course
Many kilometres of trails leading from the camp.
Over the next few years we expect to continue to enhance the camp through construction of seven more campsites, improvements to facilities including a shower, a Solar power system, and many more trails.
Spruston Road – Horse Trailer Parking Area – Development
The development of the horse trailer parking site has been a huge success thanks to the many volunteers hours, fundraisers and funding from Horse Council BC.
After approval from the Provincial South Coast Recreation District, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, to develop a horse trailer parking area on an old landing site that grew nothing but broom. Read More »
Central Vancouver Island Chapter members logged over 300 hours of volunteer work collecting and hauling garbage, maintaining trails and hand grooming the site, as well as grass seeding the site.
The equestrian community continues to enjoy a highly valued recreational opportunity with direct riding access to the Crown lands and the Great Trail (previously Trans Canada Trail).
As well as improving the site, the original TCT trail at the top of Spruston was on the extreme side of “horse unfriendly”. An old mountain bike trail running parallel with the TCT routing was opened up and the equestrians have enjoyed a safe route through this area. Currently, with easy access to a large parking area and the trails – the Great Trail from Spruston to the Haslam Creek has seen a “significant” increase in horse activity, both during the week days and the weekends. Finally, the equestrians have a safe place to park their large rigs and a safe trail system to enjoy.
Project Name: Harmon/Kane Lake Recreation Area Equestrian Campground
Kane Valley Equestrian Campground Project
Who enjoys trail riding and camping with their horse(s)? We have a new destination thanks to Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC), the Back Country Horsemen of BC (BCHBC), Horse Council BC, the Endurance Riders of BC and a number of businesses that provided terrific in-kind donations. The Kane Valley Equestrian Recreation Site is located between Merritt and Princeton, with access from three directions – off the Coquihalla, off the Okanagan Connector and off Hwy 5A as well … it is near perfect.
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The equestrian camping area is gated and signed at both ends recognizing priority for those camping with horses. The camp host will do his best to manage the site; however RSTBC sites are managed on a first-come, first-served basis and if no suitable site is available, others may be allowed to camp in the equestrian area.
2020 has been a challenging year for all in relation to the high demand for campsites resulting from the COVID-19 situation. If you arrive and all sites are full, please see the camp host, he will do his best to accommodate you if at all possible.
The trails are mostly Nicola Valley Nordic Club’s X-country ski trails. All are signed and well mapped. There are a wide variety of trails from valley bottom to high up in some big timber country. Most ride areas have range permits and are used by local ranchers, so we need to be mindful of cattle, gates and do our best to stay on the trails.
This is the second equine recreation site in the Merritt Area (the first being at Lundbom Lake) which BCHBC and RSTBC have worked together on. The area is recognized as being central to so many riders from the lower mainland and the central interior. BCHBC, in constructing the corrals at Kane, provides another great destination to camp and ride or a simple stop over while traveling through. We greatly appreciate the support of RSTBC in consulting with all stakeholders including First Nations and local ranchers, putting funding into place, building the access road, camping pads, outhouses and installing picnic table and fire rings. Tim Bennet and Greg Hodson have been great to work with and many thanks to both which is well deserved.
We had a small crew, but we cannot express enough thankfulness for their commitment and the efforts of all to get the job done. There were members from 7 different chapters: Okanagan, Aldergrove, Shuswap, Yarrow, Princeton (Vermillion Forks), Kamloops and Prince George. Two local residents heard about it and came out 2 days to help. In total we had 28 volunteers over the week that put in 325.5 general labour hours and 212.5 skilled hours. Again many thanks to all!
Project Name: Belle Mountain Equine Campground and Trail Network
Chapter: Robson Valley
In 2018 the Robson Valley Chapter commissioned the development of a Master Plan for the Belle Mountain area. The primary objectives are: 1) to develop an equine campground & staging area which will provide for overnight use by equestrians and, 2) to improve access to existing multi use trails in the area – providing riding opportunities on existing & new trails, as well as for access to the alpine via several potential routes. The initiative is now underway with logging for the campsite expected by spring of 2021. This is a multi-year initiative and is currently not operational or open to the public, but please read more and you will be appreciative of this exciting BCHBC Project! Revisit this page for more updates as the year progresses.Read More »
The proposed campground would serve equestrians, and would provide overnight camping and function as a destination for both local and non-local riders alike. This campground would meet the needs of equestrians hauling their horses in larger truck/trailer rigs and enable them to have a campground and facilities that would provide overnight camping, water, corrals, a group shelter, pit toilets, manure containment, and be rustic in nature. The existing network of trails would provide riding opportunities in the immediate vicinity, with a network of loops utilizing both the Bell Mountain ski trails (trailheads at 4.5 and 3.0 km Bell Mountain FSR), and a portion of the older Dore River Trails (trailhead at 0 km Dore River FSR). The network could potentially allow equestrians to ride from the campground to McBride, following the connectors & aforementioned network and then Dore River Road, and then via trails along the highway and/or Westlund Road to McBride. Several connector trails from the proposed campground would provide access to 3 locations on the Bell Mountain FSR & to the Clyde Creek trailhead.
This area also has the potential for access to the Bell Mountain alpine and a section of alpine ridge that extends northwest over to Clyde Pass, within West Twin Provincial Park. Several routes were considered with loop trails, which would provide access for longer loop rides with extensive riding and hiking in the alpine, and along alpine ridges (and in environmentally sensitive areas, access to hiking-only viewpoints). These routes include the old Clyde Pass trail, the McIntosh – Silver Horn Ridge route, the East McIntosh-Bell Mountain, and the Bell Mountain – Silver Horn routes. The peaks along the route include Little Bell, Middle Bell, Big Bell, The Arrowhead, and Silver Horn 1 & 2. Much of the terrain in the McIntosh drainage was IU logged (Intermediate Utilization/Diameter Limit) circa 1960’s. As a result there are dozens (or hundreds) of overgrown trails that were bladed along the contours on these mountain slopes, and several main trails climbed to provide access to higher elevations. Two of the main trails were assessed for suitability to be opened up to the upper elevations of the logging, and then continue with short new trails, proceeding through higher elevation stands to the subalpine and alpine terrain. Or, as was the case with the Valleyview Trail, intersect the Bell Mountain FSR at higher elevations, and then follow the last section of road/trail to the alpine.
Two primary campground locations were considered and assessed. Road access to the campground and road/trail access to the trailheads were assessed as well to determine if upgrades would be required.
As part of this study, all past and present stakeholders that have been involved with Bell Mountain were invited to participate in the process. An announcement was sent out in late April to each stakeholder describing the project and requesting input into the study process. In May, a meeting invitation was sent to all stakeholders as well – scheduled for June 6, 2018. Stakeholders were able to review maps and imagery and discuss progress on the study to date. Representatives from the BCHBC (Robson Valley Chapter), the Regional District Fraser Fort George, Snowshoe Power Ltd., Yellowhead Ski Club, Village of McBride, RSTBC, MDCC, MCFC, Robson Valley Tourism, and the Robson Valley Region Marketing Coordinator attended. The Ozalenka Alpine Club and Robson Valley Mountain Bike Association were invited, but were unable to attend on the scheduled date.
The main focus of the project was to assess the feasibility of expanding equine use with suitable trails, appropriate equine-specific infrastructure, places of interest, view trails, and an equine campground – in the context of a multi-user trail system (for hiking, horse travel, skiing and snowshoeing).
Presently, the trails on Bell Mountain are used primarily for Nordic (cross country) skiing by the Yellowhead Ski Club members and visitors (trails are located in vicinity of 4.5 km, Bell Mountain FSR), snowmobiling (roads and alpine) administered by the McBride Big Country Snowmobile Association (includes the road groomed from 4.5 km to the alpine, and maintenance of an alpine warming cabin), and lesser use by other local and non-local recreationists and tourists including summer hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, ATV/OHV users, sightseers, and winter alpine skiers, snowboarders, snowshoe enthusiasts (all limited use, mostly in alpine areas). No other recreation uses have been revealed in the study to date. Trapping and some limited hunting occur in the fall. Specialized Forest Management (SFM) utilized accepted industry standards for multi-use trail evaluation and design, and has recommended Best Management Practices (BMP’s) for all proposed trails and associated infrastructure and facilities, appropriate to construction and development of the network with a focus on expanding equine use. See Section 5.6. In developing the Master Plan for this area, all aspects were considered in the context of Provincial Equine initiatives (Horse Council BC, Back Country Horsemen of BC, Trails Strategy BC, etc.) and current trends in equine tourism including trail use and camping. The plan considered local tourism trends and plans for McBride, the Robson and Canoe valleys, as well as communities along the Highway 16 corridor. Essentially, tourism trends indicate that there has been an increase in regional and provincial use by BC residents for non-motorized (and motorized) use of trail and other recreation infrastructure including equestrians. Several studies including the Horse Council BC Equine Industry Study, the JTAC (Joint Trails and Access Committee) Moving Forward Document, and the JTAC Next Steps document all indicate increases in Equine Tourism can be expected in the coming years.