The Monkman Pass Memorial Trail, spearheaded by Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society (WNMS) in conjunction with the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation (TRMF), is rapidly becoming a reality. Designed to celebrate the Peace Region?s tangible history while taking visitors through some of the finest scenery on the North American continent, the trail roughly follows the route that Alex Monkman and his heroic band of pioneers established in the 1930s.
They were looking for an export route for their grain and, faced with government intransigence, decided to build a road over the Rocky Mountains themselves. Only World War II put an end to their efforts, but not before they had built a road much of the way, coaxed a vehicle over the mountains, and carried a symbolic bag of grain to Prince George.
The Memorial Trail will link and bind the Peace Regions of Alberta and British Columbia. The first section is a driving tour from Grande Prairie to Kinuseo Falls via Tumbler Ridge, with 48 points of interest along the way. There are even some portions of the original Monkman Highway that can still be walked, over old bridges, to the old cabins. When the Boundary Road is fully paved (2008) this driving tour will already be a viable attraction.
The second section is the 4-5 day, 60 km hiking trail, from Kinuseo Falls past The Cascades and Monkman Lake, into the alpine at Monkman Tarns, then down Fontoniko Creek to Hobi?s Cabin on the Herrick River. BC Parks is a big supporter of this project – this year a BC Parks team is building bridges and completing the trailwork in Monkman Provincial Park. In addition, a WNMS crew has again been hard at work at The Cascades, refining access to this magnificent destination.
Beyond the far end of Monkman Park, there remains 18 kms of trail that need to be cut. This too may become a reality before the end of this summer. The result will be perhaps the only place in the Canadian Rockies where you can start hiking on the eastern flanks, hike for five days in the wilderness, and emerge on the western side. Already it is possible to hike from Monkman Lake up to the spectacular Monkman Tarns alpine area, although signage still needs to be installed and the trail is still rough in places.
Industry support for the project has been magnificent, with Veritas, ConocoPhillips, EnCana, Talisman Energy and Enbridge leading the way. This enables helicopter access for the trail crews, signage, and the production of brochures. The remaining flaw is the poor state of the road to Kinuseo Falls ? this requires political will, and our Mayor and MLA have been addressing this.
The Monkman Pass Memorial Trail will provide Tumbler Ridge and the Peace Region with another internationally marketable tourist attraction, in addition to allowing residents the privilege and pleasure of enjoying their own wilderness backyard.