Parksville’s Top Bridge Regional Trail

Suspension bridge at Top Bridge Community Park, Parksville,Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The suspension bridge at Top Bridge is a popular destination

It’s a little confusing trying to decide where to start out, but Parksville’s Top Bridge Regional Trail is worth the effort of spending a few minutes on-line to figure out how to access this pretty network of hiking trails, mountain bike tracks, suspension bridge and meandering riverside walks.

View from Top Bridge Community Park suspension bridge, Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

View from the bridge, looking up-river

Top Bridge is accessible from several points in the Parksville area, giving visitors a variety of choices as to how far they want to hike and what their preferred activities may be. The trail stretches for 5 kilometres (3 miles) between the very beautiful Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park up to the bottom tip of Englishman River Falls Provincial Park.  Those looking for a bit of a less strenuous outing might want to consider beginning their adventure from Tuan Road in the industrial park (3.5 kilometres, or 2 miles) or it is possible to drive almost right to the suspension bridge on both sides.

Fishermen at Englishman River, Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The Englishman River is a popular destination for anglers

We began our exploration at the end of Allsbrook Road, where Top Bridge Community Park bumps up against Englishman River Falls Provincial Park.  We scrambled down one of the steep mountain bike trails rather than taking the road down to the 81-metre (265 feet) long suspension bridge.  Completed in 2007, the bridge spans the Englishman River and offers pretty views in all directions.

Man and Irish Setter on Top Bridge Trail, Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Pretty views abound along the trail, along with sheer rock faces that run right down to trail level

We discovered after crossing the bridge that it is also possible to drive almost right up to the bridge on the other side, (Chattel Road) where a spacious parking lot acts as the jumping-off point for adventurers of all ages. Easy access to the river means folks  – and their dogs – are able to enjoy the rushing water and the many interesting rock formations that, in some spots, run right down to the riverbed.

Englishman River, Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The Englishman River is beautiful even on a winter’s day

At the end of the parking lot nearest the bridge we found the trail that would lead us all the way to Rathtrevor Beach.

Suspension bridge viewed from Englishman River, Top Bridge Regional Trail, Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Looking up from the river at the suspension bridge

While the trail is a little rough in spots it is very well constructed – good solid footing and substantial railings and stairs made the hike very enjoyable. We marveled at the sheer rock faces running right down to trail level, and dreamed of returning during the warmer months for a picnic on the riverbank.  There are several quiet swimming holes, and even in the dead of winter we saw anglers on the opposite bank. The Englishman is a good spot for fishermen hoping to catch salmon, winter steelhead and cutthroat trout.

Top Bridge Regional Trail, Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

One of the sheer rock faces on the trail – massive and very impressive!

The Top Bridge Trail wends its way up hill and down dale, through some private property, under Highway 19 and concludes (if you do the entire hike) in the heart of Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.  We didn’t do the whole trail, but plan in future to work our way up from the Rathtrevor end.

Mountain bike trail at Top Bridge Mountain Bike Park, Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

If you are looking for a workout you can scale some of the mountain bike trails….

There is also a comprehensive mountain bike circuit on the Chattell Road side of the bridge, and many minor trails lead off the main one, either into the forest or down to the river.  Plenty of opportunity for exploring and enjoying the wild beauty of this pristine area, thanks to the foresight of the Nanaimo Regional District.

            Further information on Top Bridge Regional Trail, including an excellent map with trailhead markers,  can be found at:

http://www.rdn.bc.ca/cms.asp?wpID=2614

GPS co-ordinates for the Chattell Road access point to the trail are:

Lat. 49.297843  Long. -124.266254

N 49 17.871  W 124 15.972

 

Shirley

About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers. In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.
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