Sometimes it seems that all of the excitement of being outdoors belongs to the hikers, runners and mountain bikers, but Quesnel has lots of ways for everyone to have access to fun and fitness under the sun and in the trees.
There’s been a recent push to build accessible trails in every corner of town and they are in great shape, ready to take anyone into the woods. Wheelchairs, walkers, strollers, and little tikes on tiny bikes will all love getting to beautiful vistas while getting some fitness and fresh air on these trails.
This trail system in the Bouchie Lake neighbourhood also includes outdoor exercise equipment spread over several short loop trails. The 1 km long accessible trail meanders through a sun-dappled mixed forest of spruce and cottonwood trees which keeps the trail cool and shady. On a hot day in town, the temperature is far more pleasant in the woods here. The undergrowth is a carpet of mountain asters and wild rose, bringing you sweet smells and delicate blossoms to admire. The trail follows a horseshoe shape and leads through the forest to a large erratic boulder. Here is a perfect spot to rest, share a picnic at the large accessible picnic table and watch for birds.
Claymine Trails are approximately 15 km from Quesnel. Cross the Fraser River bridge and go north on the Nazko Highway. Turn right onto Blackwater Road and then right onto Claymine Road.
Hallis Lake Trail
Hallis Lake is a small lake on the backside of Dragon Mountain that feels so protected from civilization that you wouldn’t believe that you’re only a few minutes from town. The accessible trail begins at the beautiful lodge and maintains a flat trajectory all the way to a viewpoint deck on the lake shore. The loon activity from spring to fall is the reason to sit and listen to their haunting calls. Is there anything more Canadian? Bring your binoculars and watch the babies practice their calls and swimming dives in the springtime.
Hallis Lake is 14 km southeast of Quesnel on the Quesnel-Hydraulic Road. Follow the blue signage to a short gravel road that leads to a large parking area.
Quesnel Accessible Playground
I love time on the trails, but sometimes, you just need to go and play. The new Quesnel Accessible Playground is where to take the kids to blow off some steam. The playground is accessible to all kids of all abilities and is THE place to swing, bounce and twirl; in short, to experience all of the sensations of play. This playground was a community project developed and funded by the hard work of parents and child-educators to make sure that all kids, regardless of physical abilities, would have a place to play.
The Quesnel Accessible Playground is located at the Quesnel & District Arts and Recreation Centre at 500 North Star Road.
Sisters Creek Recreation Site Accessible Trail
This trail was the first accessible trail built near Quesnel in 2010 and the first one that I discovered. As a new runner, the network of (mostly) flat trails at Sisters Creek were my dream trail-running locale and is a perfect spot for a family walk or roll. The area is nestled between the community of Kersley and the eastern bank of the Fraser River. The 800 m accessible trail leads you to a gorgeous lookout over the Fraser River, and in the afternoon this viewpoint is bathed in golden light and warmth. Look out over the rancher’s fields along the Fraser River for one of the most pastoral landscapes in Quesnel.
Sisters Creek is south of Quesnel. From Highway 97, turn west at the Kersley Community Hall and follow the signs to the Rec Site.
Kosta’s Cove Trail
It’s really hard to beat a lake view, and this trail at Ten Mile Lake will take you along the pristine shoreline for 2 km. From the parking lot, you’ll get views over the sparkling blue water with resting benches in strategically beautiful spots. At the end, you can return through the forest trail (which is more rugged), or turn around and retrace your path to gain a fresh perspective on this lake shore trail.
To access Kosta’s Cove, drive north from Quesnel on Highway 97 for 12 km then turn left onto Bjornson Road. Follow the signs to turn left into the Kosta’s Cove Parking Lot.
Quesnel’s Riverfront Trail
Don’t forget about the Riverfront Trail!
This paved trail offers stunning views of both the Fraser and the Quesnel rivers, scenic benches and interpretive signs that document the history of this city where the two rivers meet. This is definitely one of Quesnel’s most popular destinations and is a favourite place for dog walking or just to visit with a friend over coffee.
This trail makes two large loops of 5.2 km (downtown section) and 4.3 km (West Quesnel section). The west route offers more hills, while both are wide and paved. Access is from downtown, with a large parking lot at Ceal Tingley Park. Just watch for the two hills, one adjacent to the hospital and the other as the trail leaves the Quesnel River to ascend to the historic North Quesnel neighbourhood.
Quesnel’s Downtown area has lots of wide, well-marked parking spots for low-mobility visitors and most shops and services are accessible with ramps and wide front doors for everyone to access the special nature and community of Quesnel.
By Brenda Beatty