The Kinsol Trestle that crosses the Koksilah river is a pretty amazing sight to see. It is one of eight trestles that are part of the Cowichan River Trail that is part of Trans- Canada Trail. The Kinsol Trestle being 205 meters long and 48 meters high is one of the largest free-standing timber trestles in the world. The trestle is located a bit southwest of Duncan, you drive through the village of Shawnigan Lake and along the lake by the same name, it’s a pleasant drive. The parking lot and beginning of the trail are easy to find, just follow the signs after you pass through Shawnigan Lake, stay to the east side of the lake. The trail-head is located in the parking lot, the trail is 1.2 km and is a nice hike along the old rail-bed, this provides a nice level walk that all levels of ability can do.
Trestle bridges are a visible reminder of early mining and logging industries. Railways on Vancouver Island were built to transport lumber and coal. It took 9 years to build this trestle with completion in 1920. Although the trestle was designed by engineers, the actual construction was done by local farmers.
Trains traveled across the trestle until 1979. After this, the trestle slowly fell into disrepair until it was not even safe to cross on foot. In 2011 it was determined that the trestle was savable and over the next 2 years the trestle was rehabilitated and in 2012 it was opened to walkers and cyclists as part of the Cowichan Valley Trail.
I have photographed a lot of the islands old trestles over the past number of years, but the kinsol trestle is by far the most impressive of them. The distance across and the height off the river are incredible and add to this the history and you’ve got a great trestle to see. There are trails that take you to a wonderful viewing spot that is perfect for photos and other trails take you down to the river with rest spots and picnic tables along the way. There are trails along the Koksilah river and a sweet trail through the forest that takes you back up to the top of the trestle.
The trestle is maintained by the CVRD. The CVRD Kinsol Trestle Bridge site also contains directions and more information on the trestle. Don’t forget your camera as this is one you need to get photos of.