For the second year in a row a team under the auspices of Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society has spent a week of hard work deep within Monkman Provincial Park, creating and refining the trail system to the Cascades on Monkman Creek. The Cascades is one of the most amazing places on the continent, and only now receiving the attention it deserves. Here the waters of the river plunge ten times in succession, separated by cliff-lined lakes and placid waters and rapids.
Access is via the 24 km long Monkman Lake trail, with the Cascades reached by taking side trails between kilometres 18 and 21. They were first described in the 1930s by the Monkman Pass Highway Association pioneers, and four of the main falls have been officially named after the 1937 Trailblazer Crew of Brooks, Monkman, McGinnis and Chambers.
BC Parks, through Rob Bressette, provided much appreciated logistical assistance, including helicopter support. Thanks to the outstanding work and dedication of Larry White, Murray Smith, Dan Cassan, Jason Unser, Gary Doonan, and James Whiddon, the main falls are now all connected with each other, and with the main Monkman Lake trail. The result is a fascinating loop option for hikers on the Monkman trail.
Two campsites with outdoor toilets and firepits have been built at Shire Falls and Devil?s Creek, and one trail also passes an awe-inspiring sinkhole feature. Some of the main accomplishments of the 2005 season were to link the Moore Falls area with the Brooks Falls trail, and to link up with the main trail via Devil?s Creek through interesting topography. A map will soon be available for prospective visitors.
The team plans a third year of trail work in 2006, continuing upstream past the Devil?s Creek campsite, beside an unnamed lake, past the uppermost of the Cascades, and along the shores of Monkman Lake to the campground at the far end of the Monkman Lake trail.
The trails are well marked with yellow diamonds, and should prove an added attraction to magnificent Monkman Provincial Park, which is enjoying a record visitor year. This is in spite of the provincial government decision not to subsidize ANY of the Tumbler Ridge area provincial park campgrounds for the past three years.
Not satisfied with all this arduous activity, Larry and Dan then completed what is most likely a first canoe descent of the river system, down Monkman Creek and the Murray River, finishing just above Kinuseo Falls. On the way they enjoyed spectacular waterfalls, rapids and views that possibly no-one has ever seen before.
Thanks to this dedicated bunch of volunteers, exploring this Wonder of the World has just become a little bit easier for Tumbler Ridge residents and the increasing numbers of visitors who are flocking to this new Northern Rockies destination.