Old Growth Alley - Hiking among giant trees along the Tlell river
By Flavien Mabit
This is a very beautiful hike in the Tlell watershed, where trees grow big. The trail is close to the Anvil trail, and has been put together by the same group of people known as the "Tlell watershed society".
This part of the watershed was burnt a little while ago and trees are not "old" growth. Photo Credit: ChinTz Lin
No major hills, but some wet and boggy areas, potentially some stream crossings, and a lot of blowdown are to be expected.
Beautiful Tree Canopy. Photo Credit: ChinTz Lin
This is starting to be a very difficult trail, as it is lacking maintenance, and for the hiker wanting to tackle that trail at the moment, please note that you would require some navigational skills and it is definitely more for the adventure-seeker.
Beautiful mossy trail. Photo Credit: ChinTz Lin
It is even best to do this trail with someone who has done it before. Alternatively, some gps maps (most notably the Backroad Mapbook one), can help finding the trail and keeping to the track.
An old sign for the old growth alley trail - Eh Canada
Some people did get lost on that trail in 2015 and had to spend the night in the forest. It is best to plan ahead and pack some water and food for the day, a lighter (essential for any outing, so you can build a fire and stay warm in case you need to spend the night in the forest), a small lamp and some warm clothes.
Blowdown across the trail. Photo Credit: ChinTz Lin
The hike is also not a loop and you will exit the trail a good 3km away from where you started. You can hike back along highway 16 or hitch a ride.
The Tlell River. Photo Credit: ChinTz Lin
The easiest entry point to describe starts close to the Tlell Fire Hall. It is possible to park near the Fire Hall, as long as you are not obstructing in away way. A chain keeps the Tlell Market ground and recreation fields closed to vehicles.
Things get interesting. Photo Credit: ChinTz Lin
You would have to pass that chain, hike towards the soccer field and go to the far right corner of the field, at which point you should find a trail, heading into some shrubs and a forest of young alders. The trail will soon enter more mature forest which will eventually turn into old growth.
Cedars grow big on the aptly named Old Growth Alley Trail. Photo Credit: ChinTz Lin
The Trail then follows the banks of the Tlell river, going upstream (or left, or south, depending on your description preferences). At no time are you supposed to cross the Tlell river, which means you have to stay on the "ocean" side of the river.
Coming down a hill. Photo Credit: ChinTz Lin
Finding the trail back towards the road can be a challenge. It is also possible to do the hike the other way around, though it is hard to give a trailhead description from the other end, and there is no formal parking space close to the other entrance to the trail.
The undergrowth gets thicker. Photo Credit: ChinTz Lin
Though distances are not huge, it is best to plan at least a half day to complete the hike.
Hiking along the Tlell River. Photo Credit: ChinTz Lin