One of two beaver ponds located on the Log Train Trail near Burde Street is lined with Yellow Flag irises once they bloom in June.

Find nature in the middle of town

Port Alberni local, Sandy McRuer, highlights a few of his favourite trails in the Valley.

There are a whole bunch of trails, byways and footpaths within Port Alberni. Some are on maps and others are just “found” paths created by animals and neighbourhood kids.

I enjoy all of them. And I never tire of exploring a new route I’ve never taken before. But I do have my favourites. Here are two of them.

One is quite a short walk that people refer to as the Beaver Ponds, or the Burde Street Ponds. The trailhead is less than half a kilometre east of the corner of Estevan and Burde Street and is part of the Log Train Trail. Although the first 600 metres are on public land both of the ponds are on private property. However there are no “No Trespassing” signs posted. Still, people using it should respect this fact and avoid damaging trees or starting fires.

There are several delightful features of this 1.7–kilometre loop. First there is a quick side trip to the first pond 200m up the path. Right at the edge of the pond there is a little space under the firs where you can have an excellent view of it.

If you arrive in the early morning or late evening you have a good chance of spotting a beaver or two there amid the duckweed that covers the pond in the summer. And in June the Yellow Flag blooms.

The entire rim of the pond is surrounded by a magnificent display of these irises.

I wouldn’t recommend transplanting any of them to your own pond though. They are very invasive.

A good variety of ducks and geese inhabit the ponds through the season, including the Wood Duck, one of the world’s most beautiful and colourful ducks.

Returning to the Log Train Trail, continue along until you come to an intersection and a post with a path leading up to the second pond.

It is a little woodsier and wilder with lots of dead trees around it and a very obvious beaver lodge beside an island in the middle of the pond.

The path can take you either deeper into the forest where you will encounter a couple of patches of logging from the Hupacasath Woodlot, or head back toward Burde Street. That is what I generally do.

The whole route takes me almost an hour.

But I proceed at a very leisurely pace, as I am usually bird-watching.

The other trail, the Trestle Trail, leads off the upper end of the Kitsuksis Dyke path, easy to get to from the Spencer Street entrance.

Over the years it has been developed from a sketchy little trail to a nice footpath although it is not paved. It’s very short; 350m. First there is a little bridge. Further along is a stump where a vandal cut a large tree down. It has been chainsaw-carved into a pretty cool pulpit.

But the nicest spot is the little waterfall below the train trestle.

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In mid-October you can sit and contemplate the salmon migration from a strategically-placed park bench on the Trestle Trail, or just sit in the warm morning sun that this time of year provides.

The trail goes on and gets a little rougher and steeper. It goes right under the McLean Mill Train Trestle up a hill and down to the creek again where you can find some bark-stripped trees.

As the path sends you further upstream there are a number of pathlets leading you to the creek over shelves of flat slate. And in the spring hundreds of nodding Fawn Lilies bless this creek with a good display of blooms.

Here, within the boundary of Port Alberni, is a lovely sanctuary bounded by the walls of a ravine.

The path extends further up the creek, takes a hard left and ends. Beyond that is private property.  That’s OK because you’ll have seen the best part of the creek.

There are lots of other cool spots to find on the trails within the city besides these two. There’s Top of the Dry Creek Ravine Trail. There’s the shale cliff at the bottom of the Scott Kenny Trail, or the meadow just north of Cherry Creek.

And of course, you can’t forget the Roger Creek Nature Trail.

I’m sure you have your favourites too.

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