Unmarked or unmapped trails
Many well-used and beautiful trails on Gabriola (even some old logging roads) do not appear on GaLTT’s trail maps, which often puzzles trail-walkers. There are several possible reasons for this:
- the trail(s) may have been decommissioned by the landholder; or
- the trail(s) may be unauthorized by the responsible agency and we’ve been asked by them not to include it/them; or
- it/they may be (although previously used by the public) actually on privately-held lands not open to the public.
In answer to GaLTT’s request to include the trails through Elder Cedar Nature Reserve (which is owned by the Islands Trust Conservancy, ITC) on our trail maps, Kate Emmings, who is an Ecosystem Protection Specialist for ITC said:
“Trust Fund Board…does not restrict public access in its Nature Reserves. We do, however, try not to advertise them so that the use is kept light. In the case of the Elder Cedar Nature Reserve, we also have some concerns about advertising trails that lead off the property onto Crown Lands.”
In its drive to achieve public trail connections all the way between Descanso Bay and Drumbeg Parks, GaLTT continues to negotiate with private landowners, the Snuneymuxw First Nations, and Government departments for public trail access, but urges trail users to respect private land and Closed Trail notices. When on a trail that has been licensed for public use, please stay on the trail—the rest of the property is still private.
Respect and Care!
- Ours are multi-use trails. Expect to meet horse riders, cyclists, and walkers with and without dogs. Control your own dogs. Please be courteous toward other users.
- Be a “leave no trace” park and trail user: take away your trash and clean up after your pets. View wildlife from a distance. Take only photos, not wildflowers or plants.
PETROGLYPHS: Gabriola has many petroglyphs (stone carvings) with great cultural and spiritual significance to the Snuneymuxw and other First Nations. They record important events or locations, and relate to sacred practices, so please do not take rubbings or photograph them. Some petroglyphs can be found behind Christ Church, where there is an interpretive sign about them. Treat petroglyphs with respect: Do not walk on the fragile images and keep pets off them. They weather quickly when exposed, so do not scrape off moss and lichen. The Gabriola Museum has a collection of reproductions you may view.
Trails Atlas—coming soon
Our Trails Atlas is in development and we hope to have it online soon, linked to this website. The Atlas will describe a variety of forest and beach walking routes on Gabriola. It will start with the routes from our Winter Walkabouts and the “ABC walks” described on our printed map. Each walk description will include a map, route directions, notes on what you will pass on the walk, and expanded information on the ecology, geology, and history of the landscape you travel through.
Other maps of Gabriola trails
On-line maps & cell coverage
BE AWARE: Many areas on Gabriola have spotty or absent cellphone connection. Do NOT rely on it.
Where there is cell-phone coverage, users can access on-line and/or interactive trail maps while walking and reference their own locations.
- You can download a pdf of GaLTT member Nick Doe’s personal maps of 707 Community Park and Coats Marsh Regional Park area trails; they come with many interesting notes and details and are superimposed on Google maps. NOTE: Many trail names used by Doe are different from those used in RDN and GaLTT maps.
Many apps are available now for smartphone-using hikers. Most use OpenStreetMap data for baseline information on trail locations. If you are using these apps, please be aware:
- Crowd-sourced information depends on people uploading data; not all trails on Gabriola are on OpenStreetMap.
- If your app doesn’t allow maps to be downloaded into your phone for offline use, you’ll need a cell connection to display them. Beware! Gabriola’s connectivity is spotty or absent in many places, you may find that your app won’t show where you are when you most need it.
Be aware that cell phone coverage does not exist in some areas. A compass or GPS device may be helpful.
FIRES: Fire is the greatest threat to our island. During fire-hazard season (Apr. 1 – Oct. 15) campfires and smoking are banned in all parks and on trails. Never drop a cigarette or butt on the ground. Beach fires are not permitted without written permission from the Fire Chief’s office. When permitted at Descanso Bay campground, campfires must be in designated firepits. For more information: gabriolafire.ca
TRAILS: Our map shows only trails and beach accesses that may be legally and safely used. Not all trails are shown on this map—some lead to private property or develop naturally through wildlife use. Small trails come and go. Crown lands north of North Rd and west of Elder Cedar are particularly confusing.
Some trails have rough, slippery, or difficult sections. Wear appropriate shoes. Trail conditions vary between seasons; in winter puddles, mud, and slippery roots are common.
Please respect private property.
SHORE ACCESSES: Much of Gabriola’s foreshore is unstable and subject to erosion and winter storm damage. With the exception of those in provincial or RDN parks, shore access routes generally are informally created, remain undeveloped, and are not maintained. Be cautious if you choose to use them.
BEACHES: Stormy weather and changing tides often alter our ability to access or navigate Gabriola’s beaches, because huge driftwood logs are deposited or shifted.
- Be prepared for change and be very careful, as logs may shift dangerously as you clamber over them.
- In winter, exposed sandstone may be covered with very slippery algae, making it dangerous to walk on.
ROADS: Walk on the side facing oncoming traffic. Cyclists, please ride single file on our hilly, curving roads as there is often poor visibility for passing.