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By Kimberly Walker
When the snow beings to blow many people pack away their hiking gear for the season or take out their snowshoes and head for the mountains. In years past I have always driven to the mountains for my winter adventures. Manning Park and the Coquihalla have been my regular winter destinations for skiing or snowshoeing. Recently I have been exploring some of my summertime and closer-to-home routes as winter options.
I have long loved the Chilliwack Community Forest as a spring and summer hiking and trail running destination. A beautiful network of hiking and mountain biking trails in the Eastern Hillsides area of Chilliwack, the trails wind through old growth forest and were built by the Chilliwack Park Society in 2014. The City of Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association work with the Chilliwack Park Society to keep the trails in good condition.
The one challenge with the Community Forest, however, is that the access road is steep and gravel so I had never really considered it a winter destination for my two-wheel drive car. Recently, however, I ventured to the newer Lexw Qwò:m Park, built in 2019 a few kilometres down the road from the Community Forest.
Lexw Qwò:m Park, Halq’emeylem for “always lots of moss” and pronounced luhw KWOM, is a smaller park with several trails, including the Thaletel (THA la tell) trail which climbs approximately 300 metres over three kilometres and ends at the main Community Forest parking lot. The trail is truly lovely, running along a ridge above Dunville Creek for some distance before cutting off into the forest. Thaletel is Halq’emeylem for “wild ginger” and in the spring these plants can be seen along the trail.
Thaletel is a moderate but steady climb. On the way back down, we chose to branch off and take the Alhqéy (alth KEY) trail, which means “snake” in Halq’emeylem. The trail is windy like a snake and a very cool portion of the trail includes a snake-like wooden boardwalk. Alhqéy is a hiker only trail, while Thaletel is multi-use and thus is it is important to keep an eye out for mountain bikers coming down the trail and ensure you are making noise while hiking to prevent a potential collision. When hiking in the winter I always carry MicroSpikes for traction and I was happy to have them in some portions of Lexw Qwò:m Park on a recent visit.
Lexw Qwò:m Park also has a very interesting short trail that loops around and highlights the history of the original water source for the community of Chilliwack. The Nevin and Dunville Creek water intakes provide a fascinating glimpse into the history of the city’s water supply. Two bridges allow you to climb up get a bird’s-eye view of the creeks and interpretive signage is provided.
The Chilliwack Parks Society and partner groups are constantly at work in the Chilliwack Community Forest and Lexw Qwò:m Park. It seems like every time I go, there is a new trail to explore! My hesitation to drive to the upper Community Forest parking lot when there is snow has been solved by starting my journey at Lexw Qwò:m Park, and the hour or so (one way) to hike from Lexw Qwò:m Park to the Community Forest is well worth it as a stand-alone trip or as part of a larger winter hike.
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Published: January 12, 2023
Last Updated: January 12, 2023
Kimberly is a Special Education, Elementary School teacher in Hope, BC. Previously having worked ten years at the Hope Visitor Centre & Museum promoting tourism in Hope and British Columbia, Kimberly worked on many local history projects in the museum as well as researching and writing articles for the local newspaper. Kimberly loves travelling with her husband Dale and their dog Alpine. In the fall of 2014, they spent the first 78 days of married life travelling and camping their way across Canada - just the two of them and the dog - travelling in a Hyundai Elantra! Kimberly loves various outdoor recreation types and exploring our beautiful province.