It may just be 500 metres of hiking trail, but this section of the Baden Powell Trail means the world to David Boyer Sr.
Work is underway deep in the rainforest north of Deep Cove to build a new section of the popular trail in memorial to Boyer’s late son. When finished this fall, the extension will provide long-needed relief from a 500-metre stretch that hikers have been forced to share with cars and trucks along Indian River Drive.
Volunteer work on the Baden Powell Memorial Connector started June 14, but the desire to improve the stretch of trail dates back to early 2013 when David Boyer’s son David Jr. killed himself after suffering at length from mental health issues and depression. The Boyer family proposed the connector trail to the District of North Vancouver in October 2013 in memory of David Jr., who enjoyed the outdoors. The family has since raised more than $50,000 for the project.
Most of that money will go towards building bridges, including a 15-metre span over Francis Creek at the eastern end of the connector. Professional design work on the bridge was donated by Boyer Sr.’s brother-in-law, and the drawings were approved by the District before the project (and funding) was given the go-ahead.
The connector trail starts from the west at a cross-walk to the south side of Indian River Drive, then dives downhill into the forest before joining the remnants of an old moss-covered logging road.
A recent look at the early trail-building work showed the challenges faced by volunteers: they had to clear dozens of fallen trees from portions of the trail, plus clearing the trail route near Francis Creek for the bridge approaches. But when it’s finished, it will be an esthetically pleasing and infinitely safer way to get to most people’s main destination: Quarry Rock.
The traditional way to get to “The Rock” has always been from Deep Cove’s Panorama Dr. at the extreme eastern end of the Baden Powell Trail. It is one of the highest traffic areas on the entire BP trail system and a daily workout (or after-work) routine for hundreds of people living in the area.
The payoff for reaching Quarry Rock from either direction is spectacular views of Deep Cove, Indian Arm, Belcarra, Eagle Peak and even Mt. Baker’s peak, which can be seen sneaking over a ridge to the east on a clear day.
Another highlight along the busy trail is a huge old-growth Douglas Fir (well over two metres in diameter and approximately 600 years old) at the half-way mark between Panorama Drive and Quarry Rock. However, most people seem to zoom past the giant tree, which has been catalogued in North Vancouver’s heritage tree registry.
The Deep Cove to Quarry Rock section of the BP trail has also undergone major improvements recently, including new bridges and staircases replacing rapidly eroding trails on some steep inclines around creeks. The staircases take away from the natural aspect of the hike, but they were needed due to the sheer volume of foot traffic on the trail.
The new connector trail is a great reason to explore the relatively quiet area to the west of Quarry Rock. Park at the Baden Powell crossing on the Mt. Seymour Provincial Park Road, then walk east, traversing a gentle downhill trail through the rainforest. The BP trail through this section crosses numerous creeks before reaching Indian River Drive.
Currently, hikers are directed along the narrow road for a half-kilometre during which they must constantly look over their shoulder for vehicular traffic before the trail resumes after Francis Creek.
The Memorial Connector Trail will take hikers back into the forest where we belong. Please respect trailbuilders by not using the trail until construction is completed this fall.
Boy Scout troops helped build the original Baden Powell Trail in 1971 (in honour of B.C.’s centennial), and they are part of the current volunteering crew at over 20 strong. When it’s finished, take a walk on the Memorial Connector and enjoy the Boyer family’s fitting tribute to their son.
You can also donate money or time by visiting bpmemorialconnector.com.
Mike Hanafin is an avid backcountry hiker who can see the forest and the trees.