Columbia and Western Rail Trail in Christina Lake, BC

The Trans Canada Trail offers an abundance and variety of scenery to observe while in the Christina Lake area.  The part of the trail known to locals as the, Columbia and Western Rail Trail provides outdoor enthusiasts with views of ‘The Lake’; full views of the quaint town of Christina Lake and the vein of Hwy 3 that connects the area to the rest of the Kootenay Boundary and BC areas.  There are also interesting land forms and historical sights to be seen as well.  This part of the Trans Canada Trail starts from Santa Rosa Road ending at Fife Road, completely staying within the Christina Lake area.

As you enter Christina Lake from Grand Forks, go over the bridge and turn right onto Santa Rosa Road across the street from The Welcome Center.  There isn’t a Trail Marker from Hwy 3 or up Santa Rosa Road at the trail head so keep your eyes open for both the turnoff onto Santa Rosa Rd and for the small gravelled, ten car parking lot which will be on the left hand side up Santa Rosa Road.

At the trail head which starts from the parking lot, there is a nice map board with information about the trail and the Christina Lake area.  I always take a picture of on-site maps provided , with my camera phone.  It serves as a convenient guide and tool that I can use to get a better sense of direction while I explore the trail.  If you’re not one to naturally relieve yourself in the bush, the small but cozy, single red wood outhouse washroom for public use should provide the in-home privacy one misses from the city.  A picnic table is also parked here if you’d like to sit and enjoy a meal or rest the legs for a moment.

The trail itself is a part of history, previously housing the Canadian Pacific Railway, now covered with dirt for easier transport on foot.  Many portions of the trail have had improvements to reinforce the ground with added substrate; decking and railings installed where old trestles still exist.  Some portions still have the old stone laid retaining walls, built by Italians years ago, securing the terrain in place as railway cars rumbled by, now keeping erosion to a minimum. DSC_0036


As one enters the trail, they are welcomed by a long stretch of tree-lined pathway which is double-wide and gravelled.  Depending on what time of day you are hiking the trees offer a tiny retreat to shady areas away from the heat.  Easy to hike and bike, the trail stays fairly flat most of the way with only a slight degree in elevation. I nicknamed the left side of the trail, ‘The Human side’, where one can take in a full town view of Christina Lake.  Obtain a town map with buildings, one could easily play a game of ‘I Spy’ or become a Geographer and locate things from the map to the view insight.  Views of the south end of ‘The Lake’ including the marina can also be observed.

If you look at the lake’s shoreline, the part between the Welcome Center and the main strip, you will spot a light green covering in the water separated by a rope buoy.  This green cover is known as Eurasian Water – Milfoil, an invading water plant that is trying to take over the lake.  Attempts are in place with Christina Lake Stewardship and ….. to remove and flush out the water weed in hopes to keep its population in check.

The right side of the trail I call, ‘The Nature side’ adorned with unique rocky cliff sides reaching for the skies in a myriad of varying colors thanks in part to lichen, mosses and different minerals that call these rocky edges home.   Even more interesting are the small caves dotted along the way which sit at the base of the natural rock walls.  Some are just dents barely providing cover to the elements, while others seem more precisely dug out and can fit multiple people inside, an interesting hide-out if a sudden storm were to prevail without notice.  When and why these caves exist is a mystery but for now offer interesting habitats for wildlife or just a cool spot to experience as a human.  The trail is also great for bird enthusiasts as various species flutter and tweet about overhead and in front of you.  Eagle and Hawk sightings are daily phenomenon here.DSC_0096

Pierce Kissing an Inukshuk!

So take a stroll or bike ride along the historic Trans Canada Trail; on the Columbia and Western Rail Trail, where one can certainly enjoy an assortment of scenery to feast the eyes from man-made buildings and landscape to natures wild and beautiful.

Submitted by Melissa Shim


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