The Grand Forks area is blessed with a wide variety of walking trails that can take trail users to quiet beaches, historic sites, and splendid views. For spring 2016, the Grand Forks Community Trails Society is publishing an update to their 2005 Walking Guide that includes 16 well travelled trails you can walk to from downtown Grand Forks. The following descriptions have been taken from this new guide. For more information please consult the Society’s website: www.gftrails.ca
Riverside Trail ~ Easy ~ 2.4 km ~ Time 45 minutes one way ~ Crushed gravel lit trail
One of the most significant improvements since 2005 is the development of the beautiful Riverside Trail. This crushed gravel and lit trail strolls along the Granby River from the forks of the Kettle and Granby rivers to Barbara Ann Park. There is lots of parking at either end of this trail.
This trail is a must for anyone who wants to experience the best riverside Grand Forks has to offer.
The city acquired the lands around the forks in 2006 and turned them into a peaceful park with benches and lights. Stroll on the crushed gravel trail under the large cottonwood trees. There is lots of parking with doggy bags and garbage collectors. Then wander up the trail past the new emergency shelter, thrift store and coffee station to Sugimoto Park where beautiful flower gardens are adjacent to the river and dedicated to a beloved long-term mayor.
At the end of the park, get on the sidewalk and walk up to Hwy 3. You are supposed to cross the highway at 2nd, but perhaps some day the city will complete a pedestrian walkway under the bridge. Get back on the crushed gravel trail behind Happy Days Diner and head north to one of the most popular beaches in the region.
Sands Beach or The Corners is a beautiful sandy beach by a deep swim hole. There is a lovely circular current that can take swimmers and tubers in a lazy circle on a hot summer’s day. Here too the walker has a choice to stay on the crushed gravel trail on the dike or move closer to the river and walk along a well marked single track trail past even more sandy beaches. When you get to Barbara Ann you can enjoy another sandy beach, tennis courts and public washrooms. This is not only a great walking loop but an easy tubing loop as well. Put in at Barbara Ann Park and float gently down to the Corners Beach. Get out, walk back, repeat.
Observation Mountain Very difficult 5.5 km Time 2.5 hours return –Steep forest path and forest road
If you are looking for a workout this trail is for you. Known locally as the Grand Forks Grind the trail has been rededicated to those would ‘climb higher’ and takes the hiker to a splendid vista of the Grand Forks valley.
There is designated parking at the Wildlife Hall kiosk that was installed in 2014 by the city. Near the well-set entrance there is a plaque dedicating the trail. The trail has been improved and the new city bench, the Perepelkin Bench, has been installed at the first lookout after 300m of steep uphill. The next 700m of steep trail is a well-marked trail that provides scenic views over Riverside towards Elephant Head. Hikers should wear sturdy footwear and carry water for hot climbs. At the top of Observation, the star provides memorable and iconic viewpoints of the Kettle Valley and City below. Time yourself to the star and enjoy the ring of stone furniture constructed for you to rest on and plan your route down the mountain. Basically there are three choices you can take to get back down the mountain. First, you can walk down the road that has been upgraded since 2005 for the construction of the new Rogers microwave tower. This forest road leads you to the Copper Ridge Trail where you can turn right and head back to town on the Riverside Meadows Trail. Second, from the top you can hike towards the west down the ridge on a footpath towards the area known as Copper Fields. This is a much longer walk and there are lots of opportunities to get lost. Third, you can just turn around and go back down the trail.
There are many paths on Observation Mountain used by local residents. Recently, a new trail from the end of 8th and the old green city works building provides a longer climb and even more of a workout!
Saddle Mountain Trails ~ Very Difficult ~ 1.6 km ~ 40 minutes one way to the beacon ~ Steep forest path
This new trail is a real workout but the views and the forested paths are worth it. In 2008 a local developer gifted the east side of Saddle Mountain to the Regional District. In order to provide public access to this gift he also gifted a 6m wide trail from Hardy Mtn. Road to the new park. The trail to the airport beacon links up with looping trails on the crown lands near the summit. There is parking at the trailhead on a corner of Hardy Mtn. Road. The trail is well marked with hand made shake signs as well as small rock towers. The trail to the beacon climbs almost 300m in 1.6km. On the way up, look for the Saddle Bluffs trail that loops off the main trail. Once you get to the beacon you have the choice of continuing on another loop trail around the top of the mountain or continuing to Saddle Lake either by road or bike path. If you choose to turn around and come back down to Hardy Mtn. Road you can take the Saddle Bluffs Trail.