New Island connection opens up the Great Trail

Trail connection provides new opportunities on South Island

A key wilderness corridor on Southern Vancouver is now part of a national trail system.

The completion of the Capital Regional District’s Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail and the nine-kilometre extension of the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Cowichan Valley Trail, closes a gap in the route of the Great Trail.

The trail officially opened Friday.

“The CRD is opening the new Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail as a major visitor opportunity in the vast 4,090-hectare Sooke Hills Wilderness Regional Park,” said CRD board chair Barb Desjardins.

The 13-kilometre Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail runs between Humpback Reservoir and the CRD and CVRD boundary, forming part of the Great Trail, formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail.

The trail connects at the south end to Langford trails and streets and link with the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, all part of the Great Trail.

The trail was built over the past year at a cost of $2.3 million. It will provide a buffer for the capital region’s water supply catchment area.

One of the trail’s features will be a 1.2-metre-wide, 41-metre-long suspension bridge over the Goldstream River and nearby viewing platform facing the waterfall at Waugh Creek, a Goldstream River tributary.

The Cowichan Valley Trail-Malahat Connector links the existing trail in Shawnigan Lake, south of the CRD in the Goldstream Heights area.

“This non-motorized multi-use trail, in partnership with Malahat Nation, winds through second growth forests with overlooks that provide sweeping views above Shawnigan Lake and across the Saanich Peninsula/Gulf Islands and the Salish Sea,” said CVRD chair Jon Lefebure.

The Great Trail is one of the world’s longest networks of multi-use recreational trails.

To the north, at the boundary of the Capital Regional District and the Cowichan Valley Regional District, The Great Trail route continues along the Cowichan Valley Trail.

To the south, it winds through Sooke Hills Wilderness Regional Park, then on streets and trails in the City of Langford and connects to the CRD’s Galloping Goose Regional Trail. It runs along the waterfront in the City of Victoria and ends at Clover Point.

klaird@blackpress.ca