Winter Trail Use

On wider trails, walk or snowshoe on one side leaving room for a ski track on the other side.

With the arrival of new snow and more on the way, there is no better time to start thinking about winter trail use and etiquette. Kimberley trail systems typically host five or more different winter activities, and managing the interests of various user groups requires more than a bit of self-monitoring and support from everyone.

In Kimberley, the winter trail maintenance program is run by the Kimberley Trails Society with support from the Kimberley Nature Park and Friends of Lois Creek groups. Hundreds of volunteer hours go into trail maintenance every year. To pack the trails, a dedicated group of groomers operate a narrow grooming machine called a SnowDog. There are also devoted classic skiers who put a lot of energy into setting ski tracks that often go well beyond the groomed loops.

Winter trail use etiquette starts with awareness. Nobody likes postholes or deep ruts in the winter trails – or being yelled at by another trail user. There are no trail police, so don’t try to be one. Please encourage everyone to follow these guidelines:

Discontinue travel if you are punching through the snow (known as post-holing.) Foot traffic is welcomed on groomed loops and packed trails, but travel without snowshoes is not recommended unless the trail is well packed. Do not walk on classic ski tracks, or create large holes in the walking tracks.

Snowshoers can create their own path if they wish to utilize deeper snow, and they are welcome to use the groomed loops. Snowshoers can have a positive impact on trails, especially after recent snowfalls, by clearly demarcating the walker side from the ski side. On double-wide trails and roads, snowshoe on one side leaving room for a ski track on the other side. Do not snowshoe on classic ski tracks.

Fat-Tire Bikers
All trails that are appropriate for foot and snowshoe travel are open for winter biking. Tires wider than three inches are strongly encouraged. Groomed loops specifically for fat biking, foot traffic and snowshoeing are set in the Nature Park and Lois Creek trail systems.

Cross-Country Skiers
Cross-country skiing is acceptable on all trails, and all trails that are wide enough will have a ski track set by users. If you are the first one through after a snowfall, please continue to put the new track to one side.

For updates on trail conditions and further information please refer to Trailforks, Kimberley Trails Society, or the Kimberley Winter Trail Conditions page on Facebook.

Goats helping control invasive plants in Lois Creek Trails

Friends of Lois Creek is inviting everyone to come out Sunday July 11 for a kid-friendly event helping a herd of goats control a patch invasive Spotted Knapweed threatening the ecology of the entire Lois Creek trail system.

Everyone is invited to come out July 11 to help pull Spotted Knapweed, a highly invasive plant threatening the Lois Creek trail system.

The hungry goats will be in Lois Creek from 10 am to 3 pm helping control the knapweed plants and preventing the spread of seeds further into the trail system. Cailey Chase of Vahana Nature Rehabilitation, which specializes in target-grazing with goats, uses an electric fence to focus the goats on specific areas such as the problem knapweed patch located near the west end of Powerline Trail just above Florence’s Gully.

“The goats reduce the ability of the plants to photosynthesize and that stresses them, decreasing their competitive advantage,” explains Chase. “Hand-pulling is very effective when paired with target-grazing.”

Wildsight Kimberley and the East Kootenay Invasive Species Council will also have information kiosks offering helpful hand-pulling tips and techniques for controlling invasive species.

New signage encouraging trail users to hand pull invasive plants will be placed on the Powerline Trail, site of the largest infestation of Spotted Knapweed.

The goat-grazing event in July marks the fourth time Friends of Lois Creek and Vahana have used goats in a targeted program to control invasive weeds in the Lois Creek trail system. Designed in collaboration with Mainstreams, an environmental organization, the program is intended to educate more people about invasive plants and to help make controlling invasive plants common practice with trail users. This year it is being expanded to include increased signage, more education about appropriate hand-pulling, and installation of a compost bin on Powerline Trail in which to deposit the plants pulled by trail users.

Chainsaws at Work

BC Wildfire crews are returning to Lois
Creek this week to continue work
clearing Totem, A-Frame and 401 trails.

Head’s up, everyone! BC Wildfire crews will again be working in the Lois Creek trail system starting this week. They will be finishing the work started last year on Totem, then continuing along A-Frame and on 401 from the top of Chute trail to the junction of Barts and 401. We are fortunate to have the crews back again this year. Trailhead signage is being installed to let people know about this ongoing work.

The A-Frame re-route around a wet, swampy stretch eliminated
the need to replace a long section of boardwalk.

Thanks also to Kimberley Trails Society crews who have been working at the north end of the Lois Creek trail system. KTS work crews have removed many of the loose rocks on Blake’s and sections of A-Frame, and they have decommissioned an old section of A-Frame that was re-routed last year due to its wet, swampy location. The re-route also eliminated the need to replace a long section of boardwalk over the swamp which, as Kimberley Trails GM Ryan McKenzie points out, at today’s lumber prices could have cost enough to buy us all a nice yacht.

Thanks again, BC Wildfire and KTS!

Winter signage is intended to reduce conflicts and encourage respect for trails

Winter signage at each trailhead in the Lois Creek trail system is intended to encourage users to be mindful and respectful of trails during the winter months when the potential for conflict increases between different types of trail users. This year we increased the amount of signage in Lois Creek Trails to help raise awareness about proper trail etiquette in winter.  We also recognize the need to use social media and other electronic platforms to educate users about trail ethics.

To encourage respect for the trails and to reduce conflicts between different types of trail users in Lois Creek, FOLC signage was increased this year.

As winter wanes and conditions start to warm, we should again remind ourselves of the importance of trail etiquette. Multiple user groups enjoy Lois Creek Trails, and FOLC is striving to manage the trail system so everyone has maximum enjoyment during the winter months. Here’s a quick reminder:

  • It is appropriate to bike on trails packed by the SnowDog as well as on snowshoe trails, as long as trail integrity is not compromised
  • Tires wider than 3” are recommended
  • Snowshoers and walkers should stay on one side of the trail, and leave room for cross-country skiers on the other side
  • Cross-country skiing is acceptable on all trails
  • Please do not snowshoe on cross-country ski tracks
  • Running and walking is appropriate on packed trails, as long as trail integrity is not compromised
  • If you are post-holing (sinking into the snow) on a path with a set track, it is good etiquette to turn around and retrace your steps
Friends of Lois Creek thanks all the volunteers who pitched in to help clear downed trees and debris from the trail system after a recent wind storm. This picture was taken on A-Frame trail.

Friends of Lois Creek would like to thank the volunteers who helped deal with the Jan. 13 wind storm that played havoc with trails in Lois Creek. More than 200 trees came down, requiring a massive cleanup effort by volunteers who pitched in with chainsaws, the Kimberley Trails Society SnowDog, silky saws and pruning shears. Special thanks to Lindsay Park students who picked up debris near the Lindsay Park Entrance heading down the hill to Daisy Trail.

Special thanks also to Kimberley Trails Society volunteers who continue to do a fantastic job packing trails with their SnowDog machine for walkers and fat-tire bikers.

More than 200 downed trees were removed from the Lois Creek trails system by volunteers after a major wind storm in January.

An established trail network, Lois Creek Trails are governed under the Forest Recreation Regulations and are managed under a volunteer partnership agreement with the Kimberley Trails Society, with the bulk of the work done by a core group of volunteers from Friends of Lois Creek. These volunteers put in countless hours advocating for trails to be recognized, keeping the trails open after storms and extreme wind events, fund raising to aid in the control of invasive plants, protecting the watershed, and putting in place awareness-raising educational programs.

The Kimberley Trails Society and Friends of Lois Creek work together to develop an annual operating plan for the trail network. In the last couple of years this has included a winter grooming plan intended to help avoid conflicts by disbursing winter trail users throughout the system. At the end of each winter, we monitor the grooming plan to determine its effectiveness. An operating plan (including grooming) is normally discussed at the Annual General Meeting each fall, although COVID-19 unfortunately pre-empted our 2020 AGM.

We have a true gem in Lois Creek Trails. Those of you who recognize the value of having the Lois Creek trail system in our backyard might want to consider becoming more involved. When things return to a new normal, please consider attending a KTS or FOLC meeting to gain a better understanding of how the trail system is managed. We welcome constructive feedback, and invite all interested trail users to volunteer alongside us.

For up-to-date information on trail conditions and routes please visit the Kimberley Winter Trail Conditions Page on Facebook at:

or check out the groomed loop in Lois Creek on Trailforks:

If you would like more information on Lois Creek Trails, or to sign up as a volunteer, please contact:

Blake Rawson, (250)-427-5495


Rod Chapman, (250)-427-5793

Using goats to control invasive weeds

Spotted Knapweed, a highly invasive plant, is threatening the ecology of the Lois Creek trail system.

A herd of 80 hungry target-grazing goats came out Aug. 10 to help control a problem patch of Spotted Knapweed that is threatening the ecology of the entire Lois Creek trail system.

This particular patch of knapweed, a highly invasive plant, is at the west end of the Powerline Trail just above Florence’s Gully. Using an electric fence to focus the goats on specific patches, the goats helped weaken the older plants and control the spread of seeds at this site before they extend further into the trails.

The target-grazing program using goats was dreamed up about three years ago by the late Don Davies of Friends of Lois Creek, Cailey Chase of Vahana Nature Rehabilitation, which specializes in target-grazing using goats, and Laura and Jim Duncan of Mainstreams, an environmental organization focused on watershed management. Friends of Lois Creek formed a partnership with Vahana and Mainstreams, and the group built an integrated program designed to control the spread of knapweed and other invasive species that have been identified in the Lois Creek trail system. The goals of the program are to educate people about invasive plants, and to help make controlling invasive plants common practice with trail users.

Program goals are to educate people about invasive plants, and to help make controlling invasive plants common practice with trail users.

“Hand-pulling is actually an easy task when paired with target goat grazing,” explains Chase. “The goats reduce the ability of the plants to photosynthesize and that stresses them, decreasing their competitive advantage.”

This is the third year that Vahana has brought goats into the Lois Creek trail system to control invasive weeds, and funding is now being sought to continue and possibly expand the program in future years to include target goat grazing, ongoing hand-pulling, and education.

Watershed monitoring recommended

Hydrologist Ryan MacDonald and FOLC volunteer Blake Rawson discussing the Lois Creek watershed assessment on a field trip in October 2019.

Ongoing monitoring of the Lois Creek and Kimberley Creek watersheds north of town is one of the best ways to support watershed management decision-making, according to a new web-based report prepared for Mainstreams and Friends of Lois Creek.

Using an innovative story-map format, Ryan MacDonald, principal hydrologist with MacDonald Hydrology Consultants Ltd., said in the report that the future of the watersheds will be driven by overarching factors such as natural disturbance and changes in climate.

“The health of these watersheds will be dictated in large part by decisions made by industry, the city, recreationalists, and other interest groups,” said MacDonald, who pointed out that Lois Creek and Kimberley Creek provide excellent opportunities to develop community-based monitoring networks.

MacDonald recommends monitoring streamflow upstream of the City of Kimberley to obtain data that may prove invaluable in helping to assess flood conditions, respond to land use or natural disturbance, and promote good stewardship. Natural disturbances include wildfire, insect outbreaks, drought, landslides and avalanches, and they all can play a role in shaping the landscape.

The study found that Mountain Pine Beetle, Pine Needle Cast, and Larch Needle Blight have had some impact on the watershed. Almost four kilometres squared in the Kimberley Creek watershed is rated as extreme wildfire risk, while another three kilometres squared is rated as high risk. The level of road development in the Kimberley Creek and Lois Creek watersheds due to past logging and mining operations far exceeds provincial benchmarks. As well, more studies are needed to understand the cumulative effect of land use and climate change.

“Teck has been monitoring water quality parameters for zinc, iron, cadmium and lead at site MY-06 from 1993 to 2020. These samples provide important information about how water quality conditions change over time and if any water quality issues are present in the watershed,” said MacDonald. “The No. 1 Shaft Waste Dump continues to be a source of zinc and cadmium to Lois Creek, and an increase in concentrations since 2015 is believed to be related to issues with bypass from mine-affected water.”

The watershed assessment project was coordinated by Mainstreams, a local water conservation group, on behalf of Friends of Lois Creek (FOLC) with funding from the Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives Project administered by the Regional District of East Kootenay. FOLC is a member group of the Kimberley Trails Society, which is working to develop an integrated trail system in and around Kimberley. FOLC and Mainstreams would like to acknowledge the substantial volunteer contributions of Hannah Schaefer and Ryan MacDonald in preparing the report.

View the complete web-based story map:

For more information contact Mainstreams at

Now is the time to see balsamroot in bloom

by Lyle Grisedale

Every spring we look forward to the blooming of our grassland flowers, especially the balsamroot. When the snow is gone and the first crocus flowers appear, we know that our hillsides and grasslands will soon be ablaze with brilliant yellow balsamroot flowers.

All parts of the balsamroot plant can be eaten. (Lyle Grisedale photo)

Also known as arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata), this plant is a member of the aster family. It flourishes on south-facing hillsides and on the grasslands throughout the East Kootenay and the Okanagan.

 The “mother” root can be as big as a person’s forearm and several decades old. (Lyle Grisedale photo)

Balsamroot was an important food crop for members of local First Nations, who looked forward to harvesting it after the long winters when other food sources were still scarce. The roots were pit-cooked for hours and then dried and stored. All parts of balsamroot can be eaten — the leaves can be steamed or eaten raw; the taproots can be dried, roasted or steamed, and the seeds can be eaten raw or pounded for use as a flour. Balsamroot contains an inedible carbohydrate called inulin (a type of soluble fiber found in many plants) that, when cooked, turns to edible fructose.

First Nations peoples managed the crop by never harvesting the “mother” root, which could be as big as a person’s forearm and several decades old. Women always dug the balsamroot with root-digging sticks made of wood or antlers. The preferred size of root to dig was about as big as a carrot. The root also had medicinal uses — it could be boiled to produce resin to be used as a poultice for burns and cuts.

Several rituals were associated with the preparation of balsamroot. One tradition, according to ethnologist James Teit, was for young people to offer a prayer when eating balsamroot for the first time each season.

Be sure to take in the annual balsamroot performance this year.  (Lyle Grisedale photo)

Now is the time to head outside and take in one of Mother Nature’s great performances. See you out there.