With the rainy winter season looming here on the west coast we take every opportunity to get outdoors while the weather is still fine, so on a recent weekend we headed up to Campbell River to experience the hiking trails and the new-ish suspension bridge at Elk Falls Provincial Park.
Opened in the Spring of 2015, the new bridge was way beyond anything we could have hoped for. Thanks to six years of collaboration and the efforts of the local Rotary Club the provincial park’s 75th anniversary has been marked with the dedication of a new feature that promises to bring added interest to the Campbell River area.
Located just over a mile from the city’s downtown core, the park and the new bridge are easily accessible. There is a large paved parking area with rest rooms and a huge, well-defined map that offers visitors a good overview of the trail system, bridge access and the distances of each trail. Being that the park encompasses more than 2,600 acres it’s a good idea to peruse the map prior to setting out.
The walk to the bridge is about 20 minutes beneath a beautiful forest canopy. The trails are well-built and solid, with sturdy hand rails on slopes. Those planning to explore trails other than the one leading to the suspension bridge will find maps at each trail juncture – a feature that I wish was found in more parks.
The suspension bridge is a marvel, stretching 262 feet over a 209 foot drop to spectacular Elk Falls. It offers unparalleled views of the thousands of gallons of water thundering over the falls to a frothing pool 82 feet below.
There are several viewing platforms at the bridge site offering different perspectives. They are all accessible via sturdy, well-designed stairwells. Footing on the stairwells and on the bridge is metal grating, offering good grip (although not so popular with dogs, several of whom were being carried on the day that we visited).
The suspension bridge has intentionally been built with a bit of sag to it, which means there is some minor movement on the bridge when people are crossing it. But, it is nothing that is particularly scary or nauseating. High chain link ensures that no one is going to tumble over the top, so overall this structure is very safe for visitors of all ages. It’s a little awkward trying to get good photos of the falls because of the height of the chain link – perhaps a few small reinforced holes could be cut in the fencing to accommodate camera lenses.
We explored a few of the other trails at the park then headed to the 122-site campground to enjoy a picnic lunch at a riverside site. More trail discoveries ensued after lunch, as we meandered alongside the beautiful Quinsam River.
The trip to Elk Falls makes for a great day out, and will leave you with memories to sustain you during the dreary winter months. It’s worth the time, and worth the effort!
Further information on Elk Falls Provincial Park can be found at the website:
Elk Falls Provincial Park is located just over a mile from downtown Campbell River, off Highway 28 heading towards Gold River.
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 50.036719 Long. -125.330243
N 50 02.203 W 125 19.815