Chilliwack hike getting upgrades to cope with Instagram fame

Increased traffic on the Lindeman Lake trail is wearing down the popular hike.

By Grace Giesbrecht | October 20, 2022 |5:00 am

The Lindeman Lake Trail in the Chilliwack River Valley was never expected to be quite this cool.

The picturesque lake has over 32,000 posts tagged to the location on Instagram and nearly 1,300 reviews on the hiking platform AllTrails (averaging 4.5 stars).

Reviewers declare the trail and the lake to which it leads beautiful and consistent. “This trail never disappoints,” one hiker wrote in late September. Another noted that there is a “good incline throughout most of the hike but such a great payoff.”

Originally built at a time when a short local hike would not draw widespread attention, the trail is currently a rustic path up a forested hillside towards a bright, clear lake.

Concerns stemming from the increased traffic have prompted the province to ask for proposals to fix the short, popular trail. Both the safety of the route and its sustainability were top of the list of improvements.

Soon, the increasingly popular trail will receive a series of upgrades so it (and the surrounding area) can handle its newfound fame.

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A trail in tough times.

The scenic 1.8-kilometre hike up to Lindeman Lake is relatively steep but easy to access and passable for hikers of all experience levels. That and the beauty of Lindeman Lake (and Greendrop Lake further up) have made it a favourite of local adventurers. But the trail is in poor shape, BC Parks has been told.

“It’s lack of construction and upkeep is showing,” a report created by a trail-building company based in North Vancouver said. “Many of these old trails were simply cleared and trail design was not really something that was ever looked at.”

Several parts of the journey seem to have no trail at all. Instead users wander upwards on different paths over roots, between boulders, and up steep inclines.

And alhough the trail was recently “picked and raked” to clear debris, it was not done with the health of the surrounding area in mind and necessary drainage was not added after the maintenance was completed.

The land itself is not the only concern: any and all trailwork must also be careful not to harm coastal giant salamanders, an at-risk species.

A trail design that can keep up with greater traffic will factor into the changes coming to the hike. Improvements will also be made to bear safety, information, and a bridge on the trail. Some of the larger projects may take up to five days to complete.

The province hopes the fixes will make the trail easier to hike, fix problems created by past maintenance, and protect the area for the future.

Rock on

One goal of the project is improving safety.

Outdoor activities, hiking included, are not pursued solely for their safety but for the connection to nature they provide. The two aspects are not always aligned. What is natural is not always safe, and vice versa.

BC Parks hopes to balance the two and maintain the natural character of the trail—and its surroundings.

Several portions of the hike are rough and uneven, presenting higher risk to hikers—particularly those who already struggle with mobility. Several sections of rock staircases are imagined for the trail, based on work done in similar areas like the Chief in Squamish. Those new staircases should make the steep trail easier to use for both dedicated fans and newcomers.

A section of the Lindeman Lake Trail and an example of a rock staircase located in Squamish, B.C. 📷 Golden Dirt Trails

The report suggests using native materials or rocks that already exist along the trail to complete the work. That could include drilling and splitting rock for the staircases and holding the material together with concrete or mortar and rebar.

The staircases (and some flat pathways built in the same fashion) could be built in 20 of the two-dozen areas that need improvement on the hike.They may also help keep people on a single trail in areas that feature long braided sections of undefined pathways.

The report also wants work on the trail to improve drainage in certain areas, particularly in trail sections that were not properly maintained previously.

In addition to the rock staircases, the project will include building two new tent pads, a new bear cache system, and an information kiosk. The builders will use Gabion baskets (wire boxes filled with rocks) to secure and raise the Greendrop bridge and channel the stream back under the bridge.

Critter-focused precautions will see environmental professionals search out and move any rare salamanders away from the construction zone. Extra care, the project’s impact assessment notes, must also be taken around waterways to protect the creatures’ habitats.

A challenging project

The trail upgrades will be a “quite challenging” project due to difficult work sites and the overall condition of the current trail, BC Parks has been told.

Only hand tools and portable power tools can be used, due to the trail’s location. Bulk material will need to be flown in by helicopter. BC Parks is seeking a trail crew with at least four people to do the construction and backcountry trail work.

Some of the jobs will take a half day’s work, while larger parts of the plan could take up to five days.

Though the trail will not be closed for the duration of the repairs, the ministry expects some 15-minute trail closures will be needed to keep the public safe while work is completed.

The work must comply with guidelines outlined in an impact assessment, which includes a qualified environmental monitor. Any proposals will need to have environmental management plans.

The province put the project out for bids over the summer. All bids had to be submitted by the end of September. Now the province will evaluate and select a preferred builder.

Though an exact timeline will depend on the contractor selected, the Ministry of Environment says construction is slated to begin next month and last through the winter until March.

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Grace Giesbrecht

Grace Giesbrecht is a reporter with the Fraser Valley Current

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