Saturday, 9 September 2017

Exploring the Upper Trent River Canyon near Courtenay, B.C.

  By Keith and Heather Nicol
   On Saturday, September 9 we joined Loys and Alison Maingon for a walk along the Upper Trent River canyon. We had not been into this area before so when we noted that the Comox Valley Naturalists were leading a walk into this area we decided this was a good time to check it out. After a very dry summer with little rain we ended up having showers on this day and this likely scared many people off. “Had the weather been better we likely would have had 20 or so people turn up” Loys told us. In any case we need rain and the showers actually added some nice reflections and deepened the colours of some of the leaves that were already dropping. 

Loys walks the left bank of the very dry Trent River
   To access this route drive along the inland highway to the north side of the Trent River bridge and there is a large parking area there to pull into. The coordinates are 49 36.009 N, 124 59.115 W for those using a GPS.  Follow the trail downhill for 140 meters or so to a trail that turns right. The main trail follows under the overpass but turn right to get to the upper canyon section (use coordinates  – 49 35.953 N and 124 59.062 W for this trail junction). We used a mix of footware including rubber boots, water proof sandals and hiking boots. You are basically walking along the river bed with rivulets of water now and again that need to crossed so whatever you wear might get wet. This route can only be done in the summer or early fall when water levels drop enough to allow you walk on the river bed.  Also a hiking pole might not go astray.
The river bed is mostly smooth water carved bedrock
  Once on the river bed the walking is quite easy since it is along a generally smooth bedrock surface.  Along the canyon sides the banks are composed of tightly layered shale and Loys mentioned that most of the people who come here are after fossils. The showers were steady as we walked upstream and at times we came to pools that were 1-1.5 meters deep. “We usually see cutthroat trout in the these pools” Loys told us but we didn’t see any. In fact we saw little animal or bird life. Some of the river banks have intrusions of other layers of rock that are a various angles to the main sedimentary layers. We walked for 1.1 km before we turned around. “Above this the route gets trickier and with the rain slicked rocks it might get dangerous” Loys said. This area is certainly impressive and we vowed to return with a tripod and in better weather since the photography options are worth investigating. Our walk took 1hour and 15 minutes which included time for pictures and looking at plants and for fossils. The only down side of this walk is that to get back to Courtenay you need to continue to the Buckley Bay turn off before you can return north on the inland highway to the Courtenay-Comox area. For more information on the Comox Valley Naturalists see:
There were curious bedding planes and mixtures of colours of rock along the canyon walls

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