An Old Growth Forest Overlooking Nelson

On Labour Day this past weekend myself and my friend decided to find the massive cedar trees and all the animals they are home to up in Giveout Creek, just outside of Nelson, BC. We, including my friend’s toddler, packed into her car, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer to follow COVID safety recommendations. We looked at a screenshot of a mountain biking trail map for directions to Bear’s Den trail. 

The Giveout Creek FSR is a relatively well maintained logging road and we were driving a Subaru. I would recommend a high clearance car for this road, at least. After one wrong turn and a few uncertain stops, we arrived at a well-signed trailhead which turned out to be the top of Bear’s Den trail. If you follow the FSR (the red line) on the Google Earth map above, from Photo 1 it is 19.2 kms to Photo 2 (notice the stacked boulders) where you can choose to go to the top (Photo 3) or the bottom (Photo 4) of Bear’s Den trail. 

Bear’s Den trail is clearly a mountain biking trail. At the top,we climbed down a short but steep  boardwalk drop, my friend’s toddler of course, LOVED that part. Once on the trail it is a moderate to steep walk with some cruisey flat bits. We watched for mountain bikers coming from behind us as we walked further into the forest. Not far in, the trees get much larger and it is clearly an old forest. The forest floor is covered in devils club and thimble berry bushes, nurse logs and a small stream. The forest is open and shaded and there are a few great photo opportunities with massive old cedars reaching into the sky. This is a beautiful trail for mountain biking, and a lovely place to admire large old trees and enjoy a trail lunch.

We backtracked and drove down the road and turned off at the stacked boulders. From here it was about 200 metres to the bottom of Bear’s Den Trail. This access is much easier with a flat wooden boardwalk, again a HUGE hit with the toddler, to cross before getting into the large old growth trees. We found mushrooms and more thimble berries and a long fallen tree to walk along. Our little hiking partner had a great time climbing the steep mountain bike boardwalks built between two huge cedar trees. They were very aware there may be creatures of the trail’s namesake hiding nearby in one of the giant upturned roots from the fallen trees of a recent windstorm. There is active logging nearby, reportedly right alongside the old growth forest. This logging has resulted in the remaining old growth to be vulnerable to wind storms leaving no wind break for the big trees.

I would definitely take people to this trail if they are interested in seeing local old growth forests which are disappearing in the Kootenays and throughout BC. But keep in mind that, while a toddler enjoyed themselves immensely, Bear’s Den is built for mountain bikers and not the easiest in terms of walkability. 

 

 

Take a hike, take photos! Share your photos with #kootenayoldgrowth to Instagram and Facebook to help spread the word about our beautiful old growth forests in the Kootenays. 

Kendra Norwood is EcoSociety’s Conservation Program Coordinator