The Bridge over the River Birkenhead
There's an old cable car across the Birkenhead River just upstream of Poole Creek, 17 kilometres south of Birkenhead Provincial Park. The cable car hasn't aged well, it looks ready to fall into the river at any moment. But it's the only way across without getting wet.
That's the problem currently facing the Board of Directors of the Sea to Sky Trail Society: there's more than 60 kilometres of world-class mountain bike trail between Owl Creek and D'Arcy, but to link it together there must be a bridge over the river.
Enter the Canadian Army Corps of Engineers, BC Hydro, the B.C. Forest Service and a little bit of ingenuity. The army engineers ready to construct the bridge if the trail society can get the materials and bridge design complete. A $23,000 donation from BC Hydro is earmarked for bridge construction, the bridge is on the drawing table and the Squamish Forest District has been instrumental in keeping the trail progressing, according to Joanne Turnbull, a director on the Trail Society board.
"It's our goal to create a link that is off-road, away from the highway," Turnbull said after an inspection of perspective bridge sites Sunday. "The Birkenhead is so beautiful, but on the other hand, that beauty is often very rugged."
The rugged terrain at the Birkenhead crossing necessitates a suspension bridge, similar to the Cal-Cheak bridge south of Whistler. The Trail Society has a long-range plan in motion to create a 150 kilometre mountain bike trail from Brackendale to D'Arcy. Most of the trail utilizes deactivated logging roads and BC Hydro access roads, yet critical linkages such as the Birkenhead Bridge are not in place.
According to Mike Rogers, Sea to Sky Trail project co-ordinator, the bridge will link the newest section of the Sea to Sky Trail - 23 kilometres of freshly brushed and cleared trail between Devine and D'Arcy - with the already existing Birkenhead Lake Loop. The clearing work creates a novice and intermediate route on the BC Hydro low and high line roads respectively. In conjunction with the Anderson Lake Native Band, a one kilometre, experts only descent connecting D'Arcy to the high line road, was constructed this fall.
"We have a gem of a trail here, the key is the bridge," Rogers says. "It's a necessity, but not an easy necessity."
Construction of the bridge is scheduled to start following the Birkenhead's spring runoff.