The Alberni Valley Community Forest is home to a variety of trails for hikers

Playing in the Community Forest

The Alberni Valley’s community forest is located in two locations adjacent to Sproat Lake, and is available for use.

The Alberni Valley Community Forest (AVCF) has been quietly operating in the Alberni Valley for a little over 7 years in two locations around Sproat Lake. The Sproat Block is a 3000 ha property up the hill behind Sproat Lake Landing (formerly known as the West Bay Hotel). And the Taylor Block is 3400 ha and block runs up the slopes of Mount Klitsa, and extends to Sutton Pass on the south side of the Taylor River. Although one of its objectives is to manage the land to produce timber, another is to accommodate and even encouraged. The new manager, Chris Law, has a fresh perspective that is far more supportive of the recreational on environmental aspects of the AVCF. In fact, it was he with help from some of his friends who built the existing trail network there. So I called him up and we had a chat to see what he is doing for outdoor recreation.

So far during his tenure Chris thinks that by far the most people that use the woodlot for recreational purposes are residents from Sproat Lake hiking the trails; to be expected as it is close to them.

Quads are there too, but they stick mainly to the logging roads.

And also there are a few trail bike riders. These motorized bikes are quiet and people take them on the trails. They have no seat.

After that there are a few mushroom pickers in the fall and some commercial Salal pickers in the winter.

Chris has been cleaning and restoring the trails that were damaged from the last round of logging in the Sproat Block. He is looking into better coordinating the existing trails in the AVCF with the Old Growth Management Areas that exist there. Yes there are some very nice patches of old growth in the Sproat Block and a lot of the Taylor Block is covered in old growth.

In the Taylor Block there are some steep logging roads that take you a good part of the way up the mountain-side. Chris is cross-ditching the road to minimize erosion.

But he is doing it with gentle dips in the road so that vehicles can drive through them easily.

This allows people to get further up the road and access the trails up there. Speaking of trails, veteran trail-builder Harold Carlson is working to put a trail off this section of road up to Mount Adder. I’ll keep you posted on that.

The recreational opportunities in the AVCF are mainly focused on trails. Most of them are in the Sproat Block and work their way up the hillside through old forest to wonderful views of Sproat lake and beyond. There is also a magnificent set of waterfalls on Weiner Creek. It’s named after an early settler who built a home on Weiner bay before it was called West Bay. The trails are reasonably well marked, and there are maps at the start and along the way.

HINT: Take a photo of one of the maps on either your phone or digital camera when you start your walk so you have a copy of the map with you.

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