Beyond the Instagram-worthy photo opportunity, why do travellers flock to bridges? The allure of the bridge is strong, whether it’s sparked by the soaring heights of the suspension cables or the deep running river below. The self-declared pontists out there—lovers of bridges—pencil in crossings at not only the smaller, underappreciated structures but also the legendary.
The irresistible opportunities for crossing Vancouver Island streams and rivers are found at all heights: a free-standing beast of a trestle, and boot-saving passages over muddy creeks. Perhaps there’s also an underlying understanding that a bridge is a concrete example of connection, easing the traverse of nature’s boundaries.
Here are some of the most noteworthy suspension bridges and trestles of Vancouver Island:
Haslam Creek Suspension Bridge:
If you’re looking for a quick jaunt to a bridge, this is a great option. The Haslam Creek suspension bridge is located just south of Nanaimo, where a parking lot sits about 1.5 kilometres from the bridge. It’s part of the development of the Trans Canada Trail; while there is a hiking path beyond the bridge, you’ll have to turn around as the trail ends at the Nanaimo River.
Englishman River Suspension Bridge:
Designed to have options, the trails around the Englishman River suspension bridge make it easy to either spend a day trekking, or pop in for a short visit. The trail starts at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, extends south, and continues through tall forests until the bridge itself crosses the waters and continues through the regional park of the same name. Parking is available at Rathtrevor Beach, at a lot off Tuan Road, and also right at the bridge itself.
Elk Falls Suspension Bridge:
Vancouver Island’s tallest suspension bridge, this viewing opportunity certainly changes your perspective of the falls. The new construction takes visitors right over the river and in front of the misting spray of the falling waters. It’s an impressive walk, with boardwalks, viewing platforms, and a grand finale.
Sooke Hills Wilderness Bridge:
The latest addition to Vancouver Island’s suspension bridge landscape, Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail and bridge opened just a few months ago, as part of Canada’s Great Trail. It filled the missing link between the Cowichan Valley Trail and the Capital Regional District, suspended over the Goldstream River.
Cowichan Valley Trail:
A lengthy trail through the valley, this route runs a total of 122 km, with multiple access points to suite whatever mode of transport you’d like to take. There are four smaller trestles over the Koksilah and the Cowichan rivers, not to mention the largely popular Kinsol Trestle. Likely the most recognizable trestle on Vancouver Island, the Kinsol Trestle was finished in the 1920s, when rail transport was the hub for the industry on Vancouver Island and there was a need to move materials. It also served as a passenger route, and today is a reminder of the booming industries that shaped the culture of the Cowichan Valley. The architecture is certainly one draw, the heights and vistas a close second. It’s well maintained, easy to access from a parking lot about 1km out, and offers sky-high views of the Koksilah River.