What is the Vancouver Island Trail? It is a trail that spans more than 770 km on Vancouver Island, joining Victoria to Cape Scott. One will walk through ancient old-growth forests, mountain tops, and wild coastal wonders. It will link Island communities to one another.
The trail is an incredible walking experience that can take from 2 to 3 months to complete for the average hiker. But the trail is not just for long-distance hikers, day hikers can get on the trail from many access points.
The concept of this trail began many years ago by a group of forward-thinking hikers, Gilbert Parker, Vancouver Island Trail past president, formed the organization in 2008, they were incorporated as a non-profit in 2009 and there has been nothing stopping them from building this trail since.
The current board of directors (2019) is made up of a very dedicated group, Ken Milbrath, president and Bill Freyer, vice president, Andy Ogle, Secretary, Peter Berrang, Director at Large, Liz Bicknell Director and the main fundraiser, Elena Elder, Director, and volunteer coordinator, Terence Lewis, Director- operations, Stephen Stirling, Director-mid island, and Doug Goodman, Director-north island. These are the people who are making this happen but by all means, not all by themselves, there are many volunteers that include individuals and wilderness groups. They all deserve a big hand for what they are and have created.
They are all very passionate about the Island and really want to share it with not just residents but to the world, Eco-tourism is becoming a big thing, and believe me, they will come to hike this wondrous trail.
The Vancouver Island Trail also offers many benefits to Vancouver Island. For one thing, it connects to other local trails and this gives more opportunities for outdoor recreation in the various areas of the island. It promotes tourism in communities along the route and, therefore, helps diversify the economy.
Ecotourism in BC focuses on wilderness adventures like hiking, mountain biking, mountain climbing, kayaking, canoeing, and camping. Our accessible wilderness, our natural wonders like whales & bears, along with first nations’ culture are our main attractions. Responsible ecotourism minimizes the adverse effects of human impact on our natural environment, while at the same time promoting its wonder and beauty.
Ecotourism is flourishing rapidly throughout B.C. Tourists themselves are evolving, like nature, heritage, and outdoor recreational destinations gain more prominence for them. This presents both a challenge & an opportunity for government, private operators, and volunteer groups. Ecotourism must benefit local populations economically & culturally, in order to secure incentives to protect the natural resources that create these attractions in the first place.
In an era of increased environmental awareness, and accessibility to backcountry locales, tour operators & local government is actively promoting our natural resources to entice this new breed of tourist. The challenge to Ecotourism is in preserving our natural resources, while promoting them, & accommodating the many tourists drawn to our Province through this publicity.
Isobel Glover completed the trail last year, Isobel is a former provincial kayaking champion, lead violinist for the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra, and an avid backpacker and wanted to show others that hiking on the Vancouver Island trail is something that can be accomplished. So with some effort and a bit of help from family and friends who all help in resupplying her along the way, she hiked the trail. Isobel is 20 years old. Could you be the next?
All in all, the board members, volunteers, and supporters of this endeavor have brought together a truly epic accomplishment in the creation of this trail, and I am sure that the world will beat a path ( pun intended) to be able to say they have hiked the Vancouver Island trail.
To learn more about the Vancouver Island Trail, visit the site http://vi-trail.ca/