Sea to Sky District Interpretive Forests



Brohm Lake Interpretive Forest

Link to Brohm Lake Trail Map (273 kb)

This forest has been established for your enjoyment and recreation, and to provide an opportunity to learn about how forests are managed. Within its 400 hectares, you will find more than 10 km of connecting trails that allow for exercise, exploration, nature study, or reflection in a beautiful setting. Brohm Lake itself is a great site for swimming, fishing, or lakeside picnicking.

Please enjoy and treat this area with respect by staying on marked trails, taking care not to disturb plants and animals, and packing out all your garbage. Open fires and overnight camping are not permitted.

The History of Brohm Lake

Squamish First Nation

Brohm Lake lies in the traditional territory of the Squamish First Nation. The Squamish Nation is comprised of Salish peoples, who are descendants of the aboriginal peoples who lived in the present day Greater Vancouver area, Gibson’s landing and the Squamish River watershed.

Archaeological sites throughout the Squamish River Valley and Brohm Ridge show evidence of the historical use of the land and water by the Squamish Nation. These sites include villages, hunting camps, cedar bark gathering areas, rock quarries, clam processing camps, pictographs and cemeteries. Some archaeological findings, such as arrow heads or tools, have been found to be 10 000 years old.

The Squamish Nation traditionally hunted deer, elk, black bear, mountain goat, beaver, racoon, muskrat and other mammals in the valley, as well as ruffed and blue grouse. A variety of plants were harvested at different times of the year for their berries and their fruit, tender green shoots, and edible roots, tubers and bulbs.

The forests in the valley provided materials for the construction of longhouses, canoes, furniture, weapons, utensils and ceremonial objects. Bark was also stripped from trees in order to make clothes, towels, mats, mattresses and other products. Roots were used in the making of baskets. At higher elevations, obsidian was used for making tools.

The Squamish Nation was also involved in a complex economic system with other First Nations in the region, and the traditional territory was at the hub of a major trade route from the coast to the interior of the province. Transportation routes existed on both land and water. An important overland trail ran from the Squamish River area through Whistler to the Pemberton Valley and beyond. After the arrival of Europeans, the Squamish First Nation expanded their trade relations by providing newcomers with fish and other items they required to survive.

Today, the Squamish Nation continues to harvest fish and other marine resources from both freshwater and saltwater. They continue to take game from the land. They also harvest timber and other resources from the forest.

Logging and Recreation

At the start of the 1900s, Squamish was beginning to awaken from a tiny rural area into a resource based community. In 1910, a man by the name of Norton McKinnon came to the area to log by railway, laying track from the Mamquam River to the Northern Pemberton Railway line. Unfortunately, a company fire in 1913 by the Mamquam River resulted in the loss of McKinnon’s business, and he left Squamish soon after.

Despite this setback to one of the first logging pioneers, harvesting continued through the Squamish area with the company of Merrill and Ring. With a steam engine salvaged from Norton McKinnon’s company, Merrill and Ring continued laying railway track from what is now the log dump south of the Stawamus Reserve to Valleycliffe and across the Mamquam River. The company then continued to expand their lines, accessing Edith Lake, Cat Lake (so named because Merrill and Ring brought in a caterpillar to log around the lake), and Brohm Lake.

By the end of the 1930s, the limitations of railway logging were becoming more evident. Not only were tracks expensive to build, but they could only access gentle forest slopes of two to six percent. In order to expand their business and open new, steeper areas to harvesting, Merrill and Ring introduced truck logging at the south end of Brohm Lake slightly before the last railway tie was laid in the same area. The company left Squamish in 1940, but by then many of the people who came to the town remained and spread their skills to new logging companies and the Pacific Great Eastern Railway (now know as BCR).

Among the new companies established and working in the Brohm Lake area were Empire Mills (est. 1939), Squamish Mills (est. 1952), Chris Nygard (1947), and C.R.B. Logging. In 1944, Dennis Debeck and his partner John Bruntzan set up a sawmill at the southwest end of the lake until 1950, when they moved it to Alice Lake. Howe Sound Timber was also active around Brohm Lake, harvesting timber on the northeast side and using the lake to drag logs across to the highway.

In 1953, berry pickers at the north end of Brohm Lake started a fire that spread along the east shore to the south end. All members in what was by then a strong, resource based community came to fight the fire and protect their livelihoods. Following recovery from the fire, limited logging in small areas around Brohm Lake continued with companies such as Hal-Wray, A and R Logging, Squamish Mills, and C.R.B. Logging. A European company even built a lodge on Brohm Ridge for a proposed ski hill, although Whistler soon won out as the destination of choice and the Brohm Ridge development never materialized.

Small areas around Brohm Lake were contracted to companies such as Seymour Logging, Magee Logging, and McRae Logging through the 1970s and 1980s. The Brohm Lake Forest Service Recreation Site was established in 1974 and the trail around the lake was built in 1983.

Close to Squamish and the Sea-to-Sky highway, the forest’s unique mix of terrain and ecological features make it perfect for both recreational and educational opportunities. Today, school groups, tourists and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the offerings of Brohm Lake. The forest is an example of how forests can be managed to ensure the economic benefits of a sustainable resource without compromising other forest values.

                            

Ecology at Brohm Lake

The south end of Brohm Lake is an excellent example of a wetland ecosystem. Wetlands occur where the soil is waterlogged for all or part of the year. A great variety of plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals can be part of a wetland ecosystem. Physical and chemical features, such as landscape shape, geology, and the movement and abundance of water, help to determine the types of plants and animals that inhabit each wetland.

In a wetland ecosystem, complex interactions take place between the physical elements of water, soil, and air and the biological elements of plants, animals, and other living organisms. Dead plant leaves and stems break down in the water to form small particles of organic material called detritus. This enriched material feeds many small aquatic insects, shellfish, and small fish that are, in turn, food for larger predatory fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. In Shadow Lake, trout species rely on aquatic insects and microbes for food, while they themselves provide food for eagles and osprey. Waterfowl use the wetland for shelter, feeding, breeding, and nesting habitat.

As well as supporting a diverse range of aquatic and terrestrial life forms, wetlands play an important role in maintaining water quality. They help filter water by retaining excess nutrients, some pollutants, and sediment that may otherwise clog streams and impact fish and amphibian populations. Wetlands help reduce soil erosion and potential for flooding by retaining and slowing the flow of water. Wetlands also act as carbon sinks by holding carbon in their plant communities and soil instead of releasing it to the atmosphere. In this way, they help to moderate global climate conditions.

              

Trails

Brohm Lake Trail Approx. 0.6 km to Connector Trail or 3.5 km around lake - Moderate - Caution: stairs and bridges may be slippery. Mountain biking not permitted

Looping around Brohm Lake, this trail offers scenic views, lake access, and a variety of plants and wildlife to enjoy. From the trail, you will see several western red-cedar and Douglas-fir trees which survived the fire of 1953 and the harvests between the late 1930s and 1960s. Many of these trees are over 200 years old. As you pass by Brohm Creek and along the western shore of the lake, watch for older trees and stumps which have been scarred by fire. Wildlife viewing opportunities for species such as merganser, woodpecker, and grouse are abundant along this trail.

Powerline Trail 1.5 km - Moderate  - Caution: Stairs and bridges may be slippery. Do not go near high voltage lines or climb towers. Risk of electrocution is very high

The Powerline Trail runs along BC Hydro’s 500 000 volt transmission right-of-way. This powerline corridor carries hydroelectricity from the Peace Region to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. The trail also supports hiking and cycling where it crosses public land.

Trees growing along the right-of-way are well trimmed back from the high voltage wires to prevent accidental short circuits which could cause forest fires, power outages, or even electrocution.

Although BC Hydro co-operates with the public’s use of rights-of-way, people using a right-of-way do so at their own risk. BC Hydro has not taken steps to reduce hazards that may exist on the right-of-way. Furthermore, users should be aware that these transmission lines carry extremely high voltages. Never attempt to go near the high voltage lines or climb these towers.

Bridge Trail 1 km to High Trail - Moderate

Connecting the Alder Trail to the Brohm Lake Trail, this path goes through an area where you can see many signs of old springboard logging activity. Notches in several of the western red-cedar stumps show where springboards were placed so fallers could stand higher to cut into the trees. Mills operating in the 1940s could not handle the flared lower trunks of trees, so stumps were much higher than those left behind today.

Connector Trail 0.3 km to High Trail - Strenuous

The strenuous Connector Trial will link you to the Tantalus View Lookout Trail. Your efforts will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Squamish Valley and the glaciated Tantalus Range. Along the trail you will see a designated Wildlife Tree. Signposted with yellow diamonds, wildlife trees provide nesting cavities, dens, roosts, hunting perches and feeding sites for birds, mammals and amphibians.

Look for signs of wildlife activity in these trees but please do not disturb.

Thompson Trail 30 minutes to bottom (1 km) - Strenuous  - Caution: Steep, rocky sections. Mountain biking not permitted

Norm Halvorson, a long-time Squamish resident, had this trail constructed in memory of Pres Thompson who helped log this area in the 1960s. From the Brohm Lake circuit, the Thompson Trail drops steeply to the Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery. The hatchery contributes Chinook, Coho and steelhead to the commercial, sport and native food fisheries of British Columbia. Views of the Tantalus Range provide a spectacular backdrop as you descend from Brohm Lake to the Cheakamus Valley.

Brohm Creek Trail 2 km return - Easy

Once a logging road, this trail follows Brohm Creek to the highway. The slopes above the creek, logged in the 1960s, are currently being managed for a harvest in the 2040s. This stand has been spaced, with some juvenile trees being cut so the remaining trees have less competition for water, nutrients, and sunlight as they grow.

High Trail 2.4 km - Moderate to Strenuous

Along this trail, you’ll see evidence of past logging practices together with current silvicultural treatments. Watch for old machine parts, cables, gears, and other equipment used in early logging along the sides of the path. South of the Tantalus View trailhead, you’ll also see areas covered with ‘slash’, or the fallen trees that have been cut during juvenile spacing treatments. These trees have been cut so the remaining trees have less competition for water, nutrients, and sunlight. This trail also offers views of the Tantalus Mountain Range.

Tantalus View Trail 0.2 km - Strenuous

Leading west off the High Trail, this short path takes you to a lookout and stunning views of the Tantalus Mountain range and the Squamish Valley. The Tantalus icefields are among the largest in North America. The open ridge at the top is dominated by Lodgepole pine, a tree that is well adapted to dry sites and low nutrient soils.

Cheakamus Loop Trail 1.6 km - Moderate to Strenuous

This challenging trail follows an old logging road through a mixed coniferous and deciduous forest. Watch for evidence of other logging roads abandoned after logging stopped in the 1940s. Most of them are overgrown with red alder.

Cheakamus means ‘place of the fishing weir’ in the language of the Squamish People and refers to the nearby river. Two viewpoints along the trail look out over the Cheakamus River Valley.

Alder Trail 1 km to Bridge Trail Junction - Moderate

On this lush trail you will see evidence of past logging practices, such as stumps and cables remaining from the 1946 harvest. Many of the stumps are scarred from a slash-burn fire that was used to clear debris after the harvest. Red alder is the dominant tree in this forest, as it is one of the first trees to appear after an area has been disturbed. Alder helps to enrich the soil for the plants that follow them by combining with a bacteria to "fix" nitrogen in the soil.

Rock Bluff Loop Trail  Approx 0.5 km - Moderate  - Mountain biking not permitted

Along this short trail loop you will see some of the common plants in a second growth coastal western hemlock forest. Watch for large Douglas-fir trees which grow particularly well in these dry areas. Lodgepole pine trees, often crooked and bushy in shape, also occur along this trail.

 

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Whistler Interpretive Forest

This forest is a joint project of the B.C. Ministry of Forests, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Pacific Forest Products Ltd. Within its approximately 3000 hectares you will discover a wide variety of landscapes, forest types, geological formations, fish and wild life habitats - all accessible via an extensive road and trail network.

This is an initial guide to assist you in discovering some of the components of this "working forest". More information can be gained by picking up the companion brochures: "Whistler Interpretive Forest" and "Summer Recreation Guide".

The changing landscape of this valley reflects nature's role through floods and forest fires, and more recently, forest harvesting activities and recreational pursuits. The earliest logging began here in 1958 and has continued to the present day. Today's landscape consists of old growth stands plus a variety of plantations of differing ages. The Forest Service manages this area to provide benefits for large numbers of people with diverse interests. Many things must be considered in planning for human needs in the forest - scenic vistas, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, nature appreciation - plus on-going logging operations.

As well, the sustainability of the varied forest ecosystems demands consideration of biodiversity throughout the forest, fish and wildlife habitat protection and enhancement, insect and disease attack, fuel management and fire prevention and regeneration of logged areas with appropriate species.

The challenge of providing the right mix of these activities and sustainable forestry is a very complex one, with the most satisfactory balance not easily reached.

We sincerely hope that you will enjoy your experience in this forest, that you gain a better understanding of forests and forest management from it, and that you become interested enough to want to learn more.

To learn more contact the local Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations office:

Sea to Sky District
101 - 42000 Loggers Lane
Squamish BC V8B 0H3
Tel: 604-898-2100 Fax: 604-898-2191


You can also inquire at:

Resort Municipality of Whistler
Municipal Hall
4325 Blackcomb Way
Whistler BC V0N IB4
Tel: 604-932-5535 Fax: 604-932-6636


How To Get There:

The entrance is opposite Function Junction (Whistler's Industrial Park) 10 km south of Whistler Village

whistlerdirections.gif (51643 bytes)

Trail Map: Whistler Interpretive Forest Map.pdf (259 kb)

 

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Shadow Lake Interpretive Forest

The Shadow Lake Interpretive Forest has been established for your enjoyment and recreation. With over 6 km of connecting trails in 125 hectares, this forest offers many opportunities for wildlife viewing, exploration, or quiet reflection. You will also find several examples of natural forest ecology, and see some common forest management practices used throughout British Columbia.

 

History of the Soo Valley and Shadow Lake

The Lil’wat People

The Soo Valley is part of the traditional territory of the Lil’wat people. The Lil’wat name for the valley is Su7a, and evidence of Lil’wat use of the land is represented by a rich legacy of archaeological sites throughout the valley. Old village sites with traditional winter homes, or semi-underground houses called s7iskens, are located throughout the traditional territory. Culturally modified trees (CMTs), or cedar trees where the Lil’wat stripped the bark for basketry, roofing and clothing material, are also frequently found. Petroglyphs, where images are carved into rock outcrops and boulders, and pictographs, where paintings have been created using red ochre, have particular significance in the valley. These sites can represent a variety of meanings, and often reflect spirit quests or represent directions and maps.

The Lil’wat name for Shadow Lake is Tselel’elh. The area around Shadow Lake has been passed down through generations of Lil’wat families, including the Leo family that traditionally used the valley for hunting, fishing and trapping. To this day, a Leo family member is the registered trap line holder for the valley.

The Sea to Sky Corridor

In search of a railway route from the coast to the interior, a survey party explored in 1873 what is now known as the Sea to Sky corridor. In 1877, this corridor was established as a cattle trail/packhorse route, and cattle were driven from Lillooet to Vancouver, passing through Pemberton and Squamish on the way. Packtrains of 10 to 15 horses would move supplies along this main transportation route, taking 3 days each way to travel between Squamish and Pemberton. Eventually the railway that was originally surveyed in 1873 was completed, and by 1914 movement of goods through the corridor was by train rather than horse. The original cattle trail/packhorse route was upgraded to a gravel road in the mid 1960s, and in 1969 the gravel road that is so well used today was paved to become Highway 99.

Ecology at Shadow Lake

Much of the forest at Shadow Lake grew out of the ashes of a forest fire in the 1920s, and approximately 80% of the forest is considered immature, or less than 120 years old. Dominant tree species within this forest include Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and western red-cedar. Other species that you may see include Lodgepole pine, white pine, red alder and black cottonwood.

Shadow Lake is located in a naturally diverse landscape, with the rugged Coast Mountain Range, rock outcroppings, and a mosaic of different shades and textures all contributing to the unique character of the area. The forest is at a relatively low elevation, with the lower reaches of the glacial fed Soo River flowing through the forest at 470 m elevation, and a rocky knoll at the north end of the site standing at 570 m elevation.

The highlight of the Shadow Lake Interpretive Forest is Shadow Lake itself. This lake is fed by a number of small creeks from the south and west, and a northerly outflow channel takes the lake water into the Soo River. In the spring, the water level of the lake increases with spring runoff and the flooding of the Soo River. For most of the year, however, water levels in the lake are low and the wetland area along the northeast side of the lake can be seen.

Wetlands

Shadow Lake is an excellent example of a wetland ecosystem. Wetlands occur where the soil is waterlogged for all or part of the year. A great variety of plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals can be part of a wetland ecosystem. Physical and chemical features, such as landscape shape, geology, and the movement and abundance of water, help to determine the types of plants and animals that inhabit each wetland.

In a wetland ecosystem, complex interactions take place between the physical elements of water, soil, and air and the biological elements of plants, animals, and other living organisms. Dead plant leaves and stems break down in the water to form small particles of organic material called detritus. This enriched material feeds many small aquatic insects, shellfish, and small fish that are, in turn, food for larger predatory fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. In Shadow Lake, trout species rely on aquatic insects and microbes for food, while they themselves provide food for eagles and osprey. Waterfowl use the wetland for shelter, feeding, breeding, and nesting habitat.

In the winter, keep your eyes open for moose feeding on shrubs or drinking from the edge of the Shadow Lake wetland. The Soo Valley is at the southern limit of moose range along the Sea to Sky Corridor. As a lower elevation site, Shadow Lake provides important winter habitat for the Soo Valley moose population. When the snow sets in at higher elevations through the valley, moose increasingly have difficulty travelling and foraging for food. They soon migrate to the bottom of the valley where snow levels are lower and food more readily available.

As well as supporting a diverse range of aquatic and terrestrial life forms, wetlands play an important role in maintaining water quality. They help filter water by retaining excess nutrients, some pollutants, and sediment that may otherwise clog streams and impact fish and amphibian populations. Wetlands help reduce soil erosion and potential for flooding by retaining and slowing the flow of water. Wetlands also act as carbon sinks by holding carbon in their plant communities and soil instead of releasing it to the atmosphere. In this way, they help to moderate global climate conditions.

Silviculture and the Managed Forest

Silviculture is the term used for establishing and maintaining a forest through forestry techniques. A managed forest, such as the one at Shadow Lake, is one where the timing of logging and various silvicultural treatments controls the way a forest develops.

The harvesting of a forest stand depends on many factors, including an area’s sensitivity to logging, the age of the stand, and the desired end product (e.g., type of wood). Where other resource values, such as wildlife, outweigh timber values, harvesting may be deferred altogether.

Before a forest stand is logged, foresters plan for reforestation with trees suitable to the site’s climate, soil, and water conditions. Foresters may also decide whether the site will be left to regenerate naturally, or planted with nursery grown seedlings.

As a forest stand ages, different silvicultural treatments may be applied. Brushing and weeding is a treatment that removes the plants that are competing with the trees. This may be done at any age of the stand. Juvenile spacing is a treatment that removes a percentage of young trees so the remaining trees have less competition for water, nutrients and sunlight. Pruning, or removing the lower branches from the stem of a young tree, keeps the knotty core of a tree to a minimum. This maximizes the volume of clear wood and, therefore, increases the value of the end wood product. To ensure ecological processes are sustained, potions of the forest may be left untouched to protect species diversity.

When a forest stand reaches a stage where trees have little new growth and some begin to decay and die, the stand is at its ‘climax’. This generally takes 70 to 120 years. At this stage, different species are occupying the forest floor and new trees are replacing the dead and dying trees. At this point, the forest is ready for harvest. Following harvest, the stand is again regenerated and another rotation begins.

 

Trails

As you walk the trails of the Shadow Lake Interpretive Forest, watch for forest management practices such as harvesting, juvenile spacing, and pruning.

Mini Forestry Trail 400 m - Easy

When walking this trail, you will see a forest that was hand planted in 1970 with Douglas-fir seedlings. In 1992, two silviculture treatments were completed on the north end of the stand: juvenile spacing and pruning. Watch for a change in the forest stand as you walk along the north end of the trail. Here, a section of the forest has not been spaced or pruned.

High Forestry Trail Approx. 1.5 km - Moderate

Starting at the main trailhead across the highway from the parking lot and kiosk, follow the directional sign at the start of this trail. You will be walking north through a clear-cut where all the trees were harvested. The site was then hand planted in 1970 with Douglas-fir seedlings. Parts of the stand were then treated through different silvicultural techniques: some of the trees have been spaced, others have been pruned, and in one area you will see trees that were neither spaced nor pruned. Watch for the differences.

The trail descends until you to come to a junction. The south trail (Trail A) will take you down to the flats along the Soo River. The north trail (Trail B) will take you further through a natural forest and then down to the Soo River flats. Trail B is approximately 300 m longer than trail A.

Lower Forestry Trail 1.2 km loop on low trail  1.8 km if joined with High Forestry Trail - Moderate

Cross the highway to the main trailhead and follow the trail down to the old logging road. Turn right here and follow this level trail along the Soo River. You are walking through a forest that was planted in 1970 with Douglas-fir trees. Try to imagine what this area was like several decades ago before it was planted. You will pass through several areas where the silvicultural treatments of juvenile spacing and pruning were applied.

When the trail leaves the plantation, it passes through an area that was selectively logged in 1969. Unlike clear-cut logging, selective harvesting removes only some of the trees from a stand. The trail climbs up a sidehill, loops back, and descends to the river again. You may also choose to continue climbing onto the High Forestry trail and return from this upper location to the main trailhead for a 1.8 km walk.

Shadow Lake Loop Trail 2.1 km total loop - Easy

Cross the highway and continue down the main trailhead to the old logging road. Turn left and follow the directional signs to Shadow Lake. You can go around the lake in either direction. You will be passing through a natural forest that originated after the forest fire in the mid 1920s. The trail is fairly level and there are several stops of interest marked with interpretive signs. Opportunities for wildlife viewing are abundant along this trail.

Old Growth Cedar Grove Trail 4 km - Easy

This relatively level loop trail follows alongside an oxbow of the Soo River. Oxbows are formed when a river cuts through one of its meanders or curves to shorten its course. The old channel is blocked off, and the resulting old channel remains as a separate body of water.

This trail will take you to a grove of old growth western red-cedar and a riverside sandbar. The return route passes by the remains of an abandoned trappers cabin.

Green River Crossing Trail 1.6 km to lake and back or 3.7 km around lake - Moderate

The trailhead for this trail is located at the parking lot on the Soo River Forest Service Road. The trail descends from the parking lot and passes through a stand that has been juvenile spaced and pruned. The trail leads down to the Green River Railroad Crossing. Exercise caution when crossing here, and then continue on the trail through the trees. This leg of the trail leads to the south end of Shadow Lake and takes you through a healthy young forest that originated after the fire in the 1920s. Upon reaching the lake, you can choose to return to the starting point (1.6 km return) or continue around the lake (3.7 km).

Viewpoint Trail 1 km - Easy

This is a short, level trail that takes you from the parking lot to a moss covered rock outcrop. The viewpoint offers glimpses of the forest and surrounding mountains.

Rules & Etiquette

Please enjoy and treat this area with respect by staying on marked trails. Never attempt to feed any species of wildlife. Bears and cougars and moose are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Please pack out all your garbage. Dogs must be on a leash at all times to protect your pet, local wildlife and other users.

 

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