“Beaver Creek Trail is a historical trail built on an old logging railroad bed. It’s a place fishermen and hikers have known about for years but not in any formalized way.
We (Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers Society) wanted to make a mountain biking and hiking destination and when we gained access to this land (through a land-use agreement with Mosaic Forest Management), we were looking at ways to improve the trail along Beaver Creek, which is a salmon-bearing stream. Any existing bridges or crossings were in poor repair, unsafe, and not up to today’s environmental standards.
This partnership provided a real opportunity for someone with authority and interest to enhance the trail. We recognized the potential that such a trail could bring to the community, as a tool for building the local economy through tourism, recreation, and education. As the trail is located next to the school, the educational opportunities are significant. We’ve had some Grade 6 and 7 classes out for sessions learning trail-building activities and they’ve loved spending time in the forest, learning about nature firsthand. With this project, their access to this creek and forest will be easier and safer than ever!
The project took a while for our Board to get going, but once we got the grant, our President, Bob Day, was instrumental in using local connections and service providers to put together a really attractive project.
Our main challenge was environmental, as we knew we could not start until after June 15th and we had to finish before September 15 (so as not to disturb the salmon life cycle). That had us feeling a bit nervous, especially when the heat and forest fire danger looked like it might prevent us from working in the forest during the summer. We were concerned about not being able to complete the project due to factors beyond our control.
But on July 21, 2023, we installed the bridge! It took us two days – the first day was spent preparing the creek, and the salmon and environment experts were on hand to ensure everything was positioned correctly. By the afternoon of day two, the bridge was up with a ramp on both sides and people were out walking across it already.
We’re planning to add a wooden bench, donated by Mosaic, and to put up some interpretive signage in the fall that traces the history of logging and the natural highlights of the area.
This new trail is about offering an experience for people – one beyond walking and cycling. It’s a place where kids can get out, learn, and read and, as a former railroad bed, it’s a very approachable trail for everyone.
It’s pretty precious to have a salmon-bearing creek so close to the community and the school. There’s no need to drive, it’s right here in our neighbourhood. We can see the salmon fry in the creek already and soon, in the fall, there’ll be the Chinook salmon swimming their way to Beaver Lake. It’s not very common for people to be able to see the amazing life cycle of salmon so easily and it’s so important for our culture and the culture of First Nations to understand.
The bridge is like a gleaming treasure in the forest! It fits so naturally – even though it’s made of aluminum – it’s like a shining jewel. When people come here and see the quality of the bridge, it’s a statement – it’s saying we invest in our community and want people to come here. It’s a strong symbol of support from our community.”
The Beaver Creek Trail project is a hiking and biking bridge over salmon-bearing Beaver Creek that will serve as a gateway and catalyst to the Cowichan Lake trail system. Island Coastal Economic Trust invested $18,000 into this important local project through the Capital and Innovation program in 2023.
Learn more: Beaver Creek Trail