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Weather takes a toll on popular walking trails

A safety gate, along with a sign warning the Quinsam River trail is closed due to flooding was put up by BC Parks around Christmastime to deter people from using the trail. - Kristen Douglas/The Mirror
A safety gate, along with a sign warning the Quinsam River trail is closed due to flooding was put up by BC Parks around Christmastime to deter people from using the trail.
— image credit: Kristen Douglas/The Mirror

There are no immediate plans to repair two popular hiking trails washed out by heavy rainfall on Christmas Eve.

The Quinsam River trail, which took a big hit, may never be fully repaired because of its location.

“There were significant impacts on the trail above the Quinsam Campground,” said Brent Blackmun, Nootka Sound area supervisor with BC Parks which maintains the trail. “We lost a small footbridge and section of boardwalk.”

The boardwalk, which crosses Flintoff Creek, has taken a beating from storms in the past and after the most recent rainfall, Blackmun estimates about 15 to 20 metres of boardwalk has now washed away.

The footbridge and boardwalk were swept away when the Quinsam River flooded its banks around Christmastime.

Blackmun says there will be a risk assessment done on the trail and there are no “immediate plans to repair the two crossings.” Because of the trail’s location, for the immediate future no one will be able to cross Flintoff Creek, effectively cutting off the section of trail accessed by Quinsam River Road with the Quinsam Campground.

Meaning, there is no continued access up stream from the campsite.

“There are no immediate plans to provide a crossing on Flintoff Creek as it’s too much of a flood risk. It’s not advisable to construct too much on a flood-prone riverside area,” said Blackmun. “It’s something that needs to be evaluated further to see if there’s any value in re-doing it, there’s still a lot more assessment and testing that needs to be done.”

In the meantime, there are signs up warning the trail is closed due to flooding as well as safety gates on either side of the affected area.

Similar fencing has also been erected on the Canyon View Trail where a large chunk of trail was washed away in a landslide due to heavy rain on Dec. 24.

Blackmun said the ground around the washout, which left a roughly 30-foot drop off in the middle of the trail on the north side of the Campbell River, is sound so the trail remains open, however completing the full loop is not advisable until a short-term solution has been put in place.

“We’re not recommending people go do the course because a temporary bypass hasn’t been put in yet but we’re looking at soon putting one in,” said Blackmun.

There is, however, a user-created bypass – a pathway on the hillside up above the washout – but Blackmun doesn’t recommend people use it.

Blackmun says there are plans to repair the Canyon View Trail but as to when he can’t say yet.

“There will be a geotechnical assessment on that location to ensure there will be no continuing terrain risks,” said Blackmun, who added that when all is said and done the trail may not look exactly the same as it once did. “You might see some redesigned structures on that trail.”

As for how much it will cost BC Parks to fix the trail, Blackmun said he has “no idea” until the risk assessment is complete.

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