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Kinsol Trestle Bridge park in Cowichan Valley a short drive from lake Shawnigan. wheelchair accessible wide multi use trial often used for walking, bike riding and horseback riding

Kinsol Trestle

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Shawnigan Lake

Kinsol Trestle - Helpful Information for your next visit to Cowichan Valley

Activity:
Walk, Cycle
Difficulty:
Easy
Location:
Shawnigan Lake
Time:
1hr
Distance:
3.5km (2.2mi)

Activity:

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Accessibility:

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Where to this weekend, Vancouver Island: What To Expect When Visiting Kinsol Trestle Park

Open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. The Kinsol Trestle is a historical site any visitor will enjoy.

As one of the tallest free-standing timber rail trestle structures in the world, the Kinsol Trestle is a short and easy walk from the parking area through a forest and over the bridge to a path that loops around the Kinsol Trestle. Here, visitors can take in stunning views of the Koksilah River.

Kinsol Trestle Trail

This section of trail is part of the larger Cowichan Valley Trail. Built on an old rail line, the gravel trail is flat and wide, offering easy access for visitors of all abilities.

The parking lot is decent, and when it’s not busy, there’s room for small trailers for horseback riders. This is the perfect place to use the restroom or get information from the kiosk.

A 1.5km forest walk is all that stands between you and the bridge, passing picnic tables along the way. As the trail opens up, you’ll be able to see the bridge in all its glory.

Be sure to take some time and enjoy the view of the river below, as it’s a great place for photography. Once you cross the bridge, you will find trails weaving through the forest as you make your way down to an access point under the bridge with more picnic tables.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can head along the Koksilah River down the Jack Fleetwood Trail into Koksilah Provincial park.

Kinsol Trestle Hiking Map from parking lot to trestle bridge is 1.5km or .9 miles

Kinsol Trestle FAQ

How high is Kinsol Trestle Bridge?
Kinsol Trestle is 614 feet long and stands 145 feet above the Koksilah River.

Is the Kinsol Trestle Free?
There is no cost to enjoy Kinsol Trestle Park, the walk or entrance to the bridge.

How old is the Kinsol Trestle?
Construction was completed in 1920. In 2012 the bridge was rehabilitated.

How long is the Kinsol Trestle hike?
Expect to take around an hour to walk the complete 3.5km (2.2mi)

Where is the Kinsol Trestle Bridge Park?
Located 5 minutes north West of Shawnigan Lake in the Cowichan Region 

When is Kinsol Trestle open?
Open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.

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How to Get to Kinsol Trestle

The park is located at 2869 Glen Eagles Road, Shawnigan Lake.

There are two parking lots to access Kinsol Trestle. The main parking lot which is larger and offers more services is located on the South Side of the Kensol Trestle just minutes from Shawnigan Lake.

The North Parking lot is at the end of Riverside Rd, a narrow gravel road with access from Cowichan Station. Google Maps

Duncan to Kinsol Bridge Main Parking Lot – Google Maps

  • Head South on the Trans Canada Highway.
  • Turn West off the Hwy (right) onto Shawnigan Lake/Cobble Hill Road (valley View Centre intersection).
  • Travel to the end of the road (the intersection at Shawnigan Lake) and turn RIGHT onto Renfrew Road
  • Travel along Renfrew Road, Past West Shawnigan Lake Rd. (which will be on the left) Turn Right onto Glen Egles Rd.
  • Travel a short distance down Glen Eagles Road. The Parking lot for the Cowichan Valley Trail to the Kinsol Trestle is on the corner of Glen Eagles Road and Shelby Road.

Victoria to Kinsol Bridge Main Parking Lot – Google Maps

  • Head North on the Trans Canada Highway. 
  • Turn left off the highway onto Mill Bay/Shawnigan Lake Road.
  • Follow this road into Shawnigan Village. Turn Right onto Shawnigan Lake Road that turns into Renfrew Road.
  • Stay on Renfrew Road.
  • Turn Right onto Glen Eagles Road.
  • The Parking lot for the Cowichan Valley Trail to the Kinsol Trestle is on the corner of Glen Eagles Road and Shelby Road.

 

History of the Trestle

The trestle, an accessible and visible reminder of early mining and logging industries, shows history in a striking way. At the end of the 19th century, different companies raced to build railways so that lumber and minerals could be transported more efficiently.

Construction of the Kinsol Trestle started in 1911 when a more efficient way to transport massive, old-growth timber was needed. Designed by engineers but built by local farmers and loggers, the Kinsol Trestle is one of the tallest and most spectacular free-standing timber rail trestle structures in the world. At 614 feet in length and standing 145 feet above the Koksilah River.

Although there were many trestle bridges built on Vancouver Island. (Such as the Todd Creek Trestle, located on the Galloping Goose Trail), the Kinsol Trestle is notable for both its size and its unique seven-degree curve. At the turn of the 20th century, the construction of the railways drove British Columbia’s economy through the exploitation of seemingly endless resources, especially the extraction of timber from the dense forests of Vancouver Island.

With a high demand for lumber in Europe, the race was on to deliver the goods. The Canadian Northern Pacific Railway began work in February 1911. Its ambitious owners, Sir William Mackenzie and Sir Donald Mann, quickly fell into more debt than they could handle, and the line was taken over in 1917 by the federally-owned Canadian National Railway. The CNR resumed construction in 1918, but the railway had been downgraded to a logging railway.

Also known as the Koksilah River Bridge, the Kinsol Trestle’s official name comes from the former King Solomon copper mine and was completed in February 1920.

  • 1920– Construction was completed
  • 1922-1925 – Passenger trips started running throughout the Valley.
  • 1931-1936 – Winter floods cause damage to the Trestle, and reconstruction and some modifications were needed.
  • 1973-1984 – CN completes the last significant repairs, then abandons part of the line. The BC government takes over.
  • 1999-2010 – After years of neglect and vandalism, the CVRD is commissioned to restore the Kinsol Trestle for park use. The BC Gov. proposes to remove the Trestle, but it was determined that rehabilitation would take place instead. 
  • 2011-2012 – Rehabilitation efforts were completed in 2011, making it safe for visitors and replacing most of the wood except for a small span just above the river, which is visible from the bottom of the Trestle.

*Historic information found from the CVRD fact sheet 

For the history buffs, just 10 minutes away, you will find that the Shawnigan Lake Museum offers more information to enrich your visit to the Kinsol Trestle.

 

 

 

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Ultralight and Watertight

When you’re gearing up for an outdoor adventure on Vancouver Island, the key is to dress in layers, no matter the season. The island’s weather can throw curveballs, with conditions varying significantly from the sheltered forests to the breezy coastlines.

For those cool winter escapades, your go-to should include quality rain gear, topped off with a cozy beanie or toque, and a pair of light gloves to keep the chill at bay.

Summer explorers, don’t be fooled by the warmer temps; that same waterproof shell that kept you dry in the winter will be your best friend against the cool ocean breezes.

Remember, the right clothing and gear can make or break your outdoor experience on Vancouver Island, ensuring you enjoy every moment, come rain or shine.

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Original Author:

Modified: January 2, 2024
Last Visit: April 5, 2022

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