About the Columbia & Western Trail Society

The Columbia and Western Trail Society is a non-profit organization based out of Castlegar, BC with a vision of a safe and accessible trail. Our mandate is the promotion and maintenance of the trail for the benefit of all.

The C&WTS started in 1998 after the previous year, mudslides and rock falls had cut off sections of the trail. A major wash-out occurred near the Castlegar trail-head washing a section of trail out. Soon after a group of seven led by Harry Killough a local trail builder who had built and maintained trails in the Castlegar area. After several work parties of hard work, Trail traffic was restored. The trail was much safer for both Non-motorized and Motorized that used the abandoned railway Right- of- way. With the help of local naturalist and friend Margo Saunders they formed the trail society that year. The Canadian Pacific Railway still owned the rail/trail. An agreement was signed by CPR for them to maintain the line after seeing their efforts. In 2000 CPR donated the line for Tourism BC and then after to the Trans- Canada Trail. The Society gained trail volunteers with this new vision of connecting community's from Coast to Coast.

The C&WTS membership is comprised of multi-trail user groups from hiking to Summer Motor Sports users (ATV/Motorcycle). They maintain a distance of 85 Km of rail/trail from Castlegar to Fife above Christina Lake for all trail users to enjoy while advocating for Multi-use, Protecting the environment, wildlife and surrounding ecosystems.

The Society also believes that multi-use can work between the two major user groups, Cyclists and ATV's. During the summer months C&WTS club volunteers can be spotted along the trail removing fallen rocks, trees, placing water bars in wet locations and keeping the water culverts clean. Sometimes major equipment is hired where needed to repair the surface of the trail, replace old existing culverts and maintain ditch lines along the trail. The society partners with many trail organizations like Trails BC, Trans-Canada Trail and ATV/BC just to name a few who are also dedicated in providing a world class trail network in British Columbia for all to enjoy. There are several trestles and tunnels on the Columbia & Western (C&W) rail trail, and all have been, or are in the process of being, upgraded. Since the C&W became part of the Trans-Canada Trail, funds have been available for much of this work. The Big Washout near Fife has a trail around with an impressive aluminum bridge spanning the wash-out, Safety fences have been placed on many of the rock retaining walls that overlook the valley below. All the bridges have been upgraded with a wood deck to ease the rider along.

The Society holds two general meetings per year, and informal sessions when necessary for the executive to carry on Society functions, making the major decisions regarding upcoming work parties and fundraising activities. There is an annual Spring Survey, when members travel the entire trail, noting repairs and maintenance to be accomplished in the coming travel season, and do brushing, remove rocks fallen from the freeze-thaw cycle, and continue the never-ending picking of spikes that work their way up from their burial spots. This trip is also a social event, when everyone gathers for a hearty trail lunch, comparing notes and meeting new members. We are always looking for trail members and volunteers to become part of our vision of a sustainably world class trail for all to enjoy.