Foehn Wall is a wall of rock.

Foehn Wall.

Charles Helm

The Wolverine Nordic & Mountain Society has submitted three proposals for new trail developments in the Tumbler Ridge area. The proposals were sent to Rec Sites & Trails BC and will be assessed by FrontCounterBC staff.

The first of these is for the re-establishment of a portion of the historic 1937 Monkman Pass Highway. The greater project will involve re-establishing the whole route from the Alberta border to Kinuseo Falls, a distance of over 80 kilometres.

For the first phase, though, a 16 kilometre stretch between Rat Lake Road and South Grizzly Road is being proposed as a multi-use trail, for shared use between hikers, mountain bikers, ATVers, snowmobilers, runners, and horse riders. A number of important heritage features occur within this stretch. Letters of support have been received from Mayor McPherson, the Grizzly Valley ATV Club, Ridge Riders Snowmobile Club and the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation. Thomas Clark has spearheaded the research on this historic route, and his passion for this project has infected many other WNMS volunteers.

The second is for the establishment of a one kilometre circular trail at the newly discovered climbing area known as the Foehn Wall. This site is close to two established hiking trails, Nesbitt’s Knee Falls and Barbour Falls, and will add to the attraction of a day-trip to this area.

Craig Waters and his climbing group are excited about the prospects of a trail leading through this climbing area, which is characterised by a relatively long climbing season. The conglomerate rocks of the Cadomin Formation and a small overhang cave would lend themselves to interpretive signage for the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark.

The third is for the re-establishment of the trail to Irene Lake. This is the first section of the trail to the lakes in the Greg Duke Recreation Area, envisaged by the Ministry of Forests in the 1990s, but which has subsequently fallen into disuse, as the lake is no longer stocked with fish.

The distance from the trailhead parking lot (a few kilometres before the entrance to Monkman Provincial Park) to Irene Lake is just 300 metres. A part of it is environmentally sensitive, and it is proposed to construct a 100 metre boardwalk to traverse this open, mineral-rich area to the shore of the lake. This is a unique destination and would also become a tourist-accessible geosite of the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark, and would fit in well with a trip to Kinuseo Falls and the other splendours nearby.

Another 2016 WNMS project is a series of improvements at Windfall Lake. In 2015 funding support from the Peace River Regional District (PRRD) allowed for the establishment of a long boardwalk across a boggy section of the trail to this increasingly popular mountain lake and surrounding alpine areas. Just recently PRRD approved a WNMS funding proposal for 2016, for the installation of tent-pads, food caches and toilets to help protect the fragile alpine environment, as well as a series of rock cairns to act as route markers through alpine sections of the Circular Trail. Anthony Moreau Coulson will take the lead on implementing this project.

WNMS has developed over thirty hiking trails in the Tumbler Ridge area, and its volunteers maintain the 100 kilometre trail system that has resulted. Many of these trails lead to important geosites within the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark. WNMS hopes that these proposed new projects will add further variety to the trail system.

Trevor Hann, Recreation Officer for the Peace-Fort Nelson region of Recreation Sites & Trails BC, says: “Tumbler Ridge is quickly becoming an all season, multi-sport destination with amazing paleontological resources, vistas and waterfalls in almost every direction.  The WNMS has been an exemplary group to work with and I am sure the Town and Geopark will see the benefits of all the dedicated work provided by the group. Keep up the great work!”