Cowichan Valley Trail (Kinsol Trestle), B.C.

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You don’t have to do much to make the trails of Vancouver Island breathtaking; the mountains and the ocean handily take care of that task. But the approach to the majestic Kinsol Trestle in Cowichan Valley will undoubtedly give you pause. This manmade feat, which has withstood floods, fires, abandon, and politics, is remarkable amidst the greenery.

High above the Koksilah River, the historic Kinsol Trestle offers a spectacular recreational route to hikers, runners, cyclists and horseback riders. Its 44-metre-high, 187-metre-long walkway connects the village of Shawnigan Lake and the District of North Cowichan.

The Kinsol trestle was completed in 1920 and is one of the largest timber bridges in the world and the highest timber trestle remaining in the Commonwealth. The last train crossed the bridge on May 30, 1979; a year later the trestle was abandoned. By the late 1990s, local groups started advocating for the preservation of the trestle and after several engineering and economic-impact studies, various levels of government and groups, including the Trans Canada Trail, committed to the Kinsol Trestle rehabilitation project, which launched in June 2009. Construction began a year later.

During the rehabilitation of the trestle, more than 679 cubic metres (288,000 board feet) of new timber was used, the majority of it second growth B.C Douglas fir and cypress, yet 60 % of the historic timber was retained.

On the sunny morning of Thursday, July 28, 2011, the Kinsol Trestle celebrated its official reopening and became an official segment of the Trans Canada Trail.

When you cross the Kinsol Trestle on Vancouver Island, you’re not just enjoying some of the most beautiful views our country and the Trans Canada Trail have to offer; you’re also walking in step with Canadian history.

Click here for a time-lapse video of the reconstruction of the Kinsol Trestle (redirects to YouTube).

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Photos from the Trail

Photo by: Betty Anne Graves
Trail: Banff Legacy Trail