Davis Creek – A true grind leading to a truly spectacular old growth forest

It’s getting later in the hiking season but we were able to sneak in one more old growth forest hike on a brisk, damp and grey fall day. My hiking partner and co-worker, Laura, met me in Kaslo and we carpooled in Kootenay Carshare’s (electric!) Hyundai Kona to Davis Creek. This EV is a two-wheel drive but with higher clearance and the carshare program allows for light off-road use. It was a fun drive and driving an EV through Kootenay Carshare was so easy, convenient, and affordable. This would be a great vehicle to reach the trailheads at Kokanee Creek or Giveout. The trail access to Davis Creek is right along the highway so high clearance is not required. There is a pull-out on the left (if coming from Kaslo) just after the Davis Creek bridge where you can park and walk back along the bridge to the trailhead. The trailhead is well marked up a steep bank from the road.

This trail starts off as a serious grind and I’m glad I brought my hiking poles. Switchbacks wind up the hillside for almost 2 kilometres – we gained most of the trail’s 475 metres in elevation by the time we get to the lookout. The view down Kootenay Lake is quite spectacular even with the low hanging clouds blowing over the mountain peaks. The trail leads up into the woods and our eyes adjusted to the darkness. We walked through patches of mossy areas that were green and damp, and areas where the devils club has turned such a vivid yellow it almost glows.

After walking 3.5 kilometres the trees began to look bigger and more spaced out, and the understory opened so we could see farther into the shadowed distance. We were entering the old growth forest. We disturbed a red squirrel and it darts up a tree with its cheeks full of moss it has likely been collecting for a winter nest. White, yellow, brown and red mushrooms poke out of the soft ground and I am reminded of their symbiotic significance to the trees in this ancient forest ecosystem. 

The hike through the old growth forest is a gentle meander and much longer than the other hikes we’ve been on so far. At the end of the trail at 4.4 kilometres we reached Fishhook Lake and made our way to the water’s edge. We found a damp and slippery fallen log to climb on to and look out across the lake. Lily Pads and mossy logs floated near the shoreline and the fall colours popped against the green and grey.

This forest is unprotected like the others I’ve explored and shared. There is a sign at the base of the trail that outlines forest fire mitigation happening in the area. The area is reportedly being managed by the Kaslo & District Community Forest and they haven’t voiced any plans to log the area. However, there is no regulation stopping logging from happening and the area is not within an Old Growth Management Area  — meaning it has not been set aside from being logged.

The sense of awe I feel when I stand beneath a huge ancient tree is grounding. After experiencing these old growth trails here in the Kootenays I feel a renewed connection to nature and also a heightened sense of urgency. We need to protect these places – not only for our own health and well being from the clean water and air they provide, but for their sheer magnificence and integral role these huge old trees play in supporting great levels of biodiversity in our world.

Please sign and share our petition to tell the government to stop logging old growth forests now and immediately begin the work to implement the 14 recommendations from its Old Growth Strategic Review.  

Kendra Norwood is EcoSociety’s Conservation Program Coordinator.