The Hope area is becoming a magnet for hard-core hikers, with numerous trails being established, re-established or renovated by paid and volunteer crews.
When it comes to smooth walking paths, though, the inventory is pretty limited — but that is about to change, with the opening of the Coquihalla Dike Trail, between Old Hope Princeton Way and River Parade.
Kelly Pearce, program director for Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning, said, “I would say we’re working on about a dozen trails this summer — but this one excites me the most. The potential for the whole town is huge!”
The path follows what had been used for years as a shortcut from Robertson Crescent, behind the hospital and on to Kawkawa Lake Road. Stephanie Hooker, asset development manager for Advantage Hope called it a “guerrilla path.”
Now, a paid crew of three young men has turned the old trail into a two-metre wide crushed-gravel path that Pearce believes will be suitable for mobility scooters, as well as pedestrians, cyclists and baby strollers.
“One man from Riverside Manor was out on an electric mobility scooter and he was very enthusiastic about the trail,” said Pearce. “We’ve built two pathways to connect to the lodge. Once the trail surface is packed down, we’ll have to get someone out to test it with a scooter.”
A challenge for trail designers was the rise from the dike by the Coquihalla Campground, up to the hospital. “We tried to lessen the grade as much as possible,” said Pearce.
“A lot of trails in Hope don’t have a legal designation,” added Pearce. “For the first time, people can know that they are not trespassing. They’ll be on a sanctioned trail.”
Pearce said the Hope Mountain Centre has over 100 volunteers that can be called on for projects such as spring clean-ups or packing and erecting signage. Establishing new trails is different, though.
“The value of that trail crew is tremendous,” he enthused. “You can’t expect volunteers to put in day-to-day work to make a brand new trail. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a paid crew every year.”
The crew includes two Hope Secondary students, Angus Stromquist and Seth Prawdzik and their crew leader Wesley Liebault, of Chilliwack.
Stephanie Hooker said there were at least a dozen people vying for the positions, which are funded by the provincial Rural Dividends Program. She said Advantage Hope, the District of Hope and Hope Mountain Centre were partners on the funding application.
Four cedar benches will be placed along the path, made from rescued cedar gleaned from the mouth of the Coquihalla and milled locally by Justin Brown.
While the dike upstream of the Kawkawa Lake Bridge is open for public access, Hooker said there would be signage, asking people to not venture into the campground.
“This trail is for pedestrian linkage and access to Hope’s waterfront,” said Hooker. “A portion of the trail nicks the Fraser Health property — but we have an agreement in place. They could not have been more supportive of this new path.”
You soon will have one more reason to get out and take a walk… for the health of it.