White River Riparian Trail (10.1km)

Single-track trail, commonly following Roosevelt elk trails, that traverses mostly old-growth forests and provides many  spectacular views of the White River and Warden and Victoria Peaks. 

Hiking only 

 

Trail Description (based on hiking the VI Trail from S to N)

The White River Riparian Trail was extended some 800 metres in October of 2018, so as to include the ford over the White River.

It now starts on Stewart Main 350 metres past (NW) the bridge over Consort Creek.  At this point, the trail on your right is now the beginning of the White River Riparian Trail.  The trail soon drops down to a terrace flanking Consort Creek as far as its confluence with the White River.  At higher flows, the confluence can be quite impressive as Consort and White flows meet head-on.  About 200 m upstream of the confluence, the White can be forded at lower summer flows (the White River bridge upstream is no longer usable).  After wading the river, a short riverbank trail takes the hiker to a couple of informal vehicle-accessible campsites on the former Stewart Main.

The White River Riparian Trail continues just behind the campsite in a road widening near the old bridge crossing and extends upstream for  about 10 km up the White to the vicinity of Kokummi Creek.  The shorter, near-span of the former double-span bridge was removed several years ago. The trail passes through mostly old-growth forest along the north side of the beautiful, clear White River and affords great views of Victoria and Warden Peaks.

From the start of the trail marked by a VI Spine Trail signpost, the trail drops off the road fill onto a flat river terrace. At less than 100 metres in, you must either wade a small back channel or cross on a log.

The first 1.8 km is located mainly on higher river terraces (1), but the trail does drop down briefly onto the active floodplain in a couple of spots (2,3).  One low terrace barely above the regular flooding level supports a rather unusual forest community of Douglas-fir with some remnants of pioneering black cottonwoods (4); a somewhat lower area in behind is regularly inundated as evident from fresh deposits of sand, drift materials and current markings.  The absence of decaying logs and organic surface soil is indicative of the early seral nature of this forest (i.e. this is the first forest to occupy this site).

high-terrace-edge-trail-resized

1. Typical trail across a high river terrace

elk-pasture-resized

2. Trail traverses ‘elk pasture’ of browsed salmonberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

levee-trail-with-worker-sharpening-their-saw

4. Trail crew in a grove of younger Douglas-fir

trail-on-floodplain-before-midpoint-resized

3. Trail across active floodplain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1.8 km, the terraces and floodplain are pinched out where the White has cut into the valley side on the outside of a major river bend. For the next 200 metres, the trail is across a very steep sidehill.  At the western end of this steep section, the hiker drops down to cross a small side creek, then along a short narrow ridge before regaining the flat river terraces.

Near the mid-point of the trail (at 5.4 km), it comes close to White River Main for a hundred or so metres.  You will then cross a back-channel on a log and drop down onto active floodplain that supports a very dense shrub cover of salmonberry and red-osier dogwood (5,6).

thick-brush-on-flood-plain-past-midpoint

5. Thick brush on floodplain before clearing

thick-brush-cleared-resized

6. …. and After clearing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At about 280 metres along the floodplain is a large redcedar log across a tributary that provides a crossing of a surprisingly deep creek that drains a wetland complex on the back of the floodplain.  The trail continues right along the riverbank edge on a sandy levee, with exposed sand on the riverbank and thick salmonberry under an open red alder stand on the floodplain behind (7).  The virtually bare sandy levee provides a number of suitable summer (low-water) camping spots; the best about 100 metres past the log crossing. This section is due north of Warden Peak; steep slopes rise uninterrupted for 1200 metres in elevation (almost 4,000 feet!) to the north shoulder of this peak (8), which obscures views of the summit at this point but seen elsewhere along the trail.

levee-trail-past-midpoint

7. Trail across a sandy floodplain levee.

mountain-views-resized

8. Views of Warden Peak along the trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Within another couple of hundred metres, the trail regains and stays very largely on higher river terraces that support an old-growth stand dominated by very tall amabilis fir (Pacific silver fir).  Indeed, it is on such old, high fluvial terraces that this species attains its greatest size.  You may well appreciate the amount of work involved in cutting through large dead and down trees (9) in establishing this section of trail.

windfall-patch-resized

9a. Trail clearing at its finest!

dave-cutting-windfall-resized

9b. Keeping the trail open can be challenging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trail continues along the higher river terraces to the 8-km mark, where you will encounter an old river channel of the White. This was the main active channel until 2-3 decades ago when the White cut across an old river meander in a new straight channel and abandoned the pre-existing meander bend.  The first (of two) crossings of the old channel has standing water and is crossed via a large walk-log elevated a couple of metres  (10). As can be see in the photo, the adjacent floodplain vegetation is thick salmonberry (11) that makes great ‘elk pasture’, but this lightens up as you enter an island of older coniferous forest prior to the second crossing of the meander scar, which is dry gravel most of the year.

walk-log-resize

10. Walk-log over old channel.

foliage-on-trail-resized

11. Salmonberry, kept relatively short by elk browsing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past the old meander scar, the trail goes across another river terrace which merges with a large fluvial fan deposited by a major side creek.  This fan was logged and now supports a young second-growth stand (12).  In a short distance the trail is again on river terraces with large old-growth, dropping down at one point onto a low terrace with widely spaced red cedar and thick salmonberry and a great view of the river and Warden Peak.

wooded-trail-before-midpoint-resized

12. Second-growth stand on previously logged fluvial fan deposited by a side creek.

The last 100 or so metres of this trail before it rejoins the logging road (White River Main) is across a steep sideslope pinched between the river and the road.  You pop out onto the road just before the junction of White River and Kokummi Main roads.  The White River Main turns sharply to the south to a bridge over the White River and Kokummi Main continues straight ahead.

If you wish to follow the VI Trail route any further, go straight ahead along Kokummi Main and continue up this road to the head of the Kokummi Creek valley.

For most of its length, the White River Riparian Trail is separated from the White River Main logging road by an extensive complex of wetlands, including marshes, shallow ponds and swamps (wooded or forested). This setting is  good habitat for both bears and elk (a lone grizzly bear has reportedly made the upper White home in the last few years  – beware!!). Other than at flood stage, the White is a beautiful, crystal-clear river that will impress you again and again (13,14).

white-river-1-resized

13. The clear soul-soothing waters of the White!

white-river-clear-water-resized

14. The VI Trail unlocks the beauty of the White.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving Directions to and GPS Coordinates of Trail Heads (east and west ends)

The White River Riparian Trail is part of the White River section of the VI Trail. If you wish to do a day-hike of this trail, it is accessible from Sayward Junction on Highway 19, 64 km north of Campbell River (i.e. from the bridge over Campbell River).

  • Turn left off Highway 19 at Sayward Junction and go south to cross over the White River.
  • Just across the bridge, turn right onto Hern Road and go past White River Court.
  • Where Hern Rd. bends sharply to the left, go straight ahead for about 40 metres to a T-junction.
  • Go right at this junction for about 200 metres to another T-junction at White River Main.
  • Turn left (uphill) onto White River Main and follow it for 27 km to Stewart Main.  Ignore numerous side roads.  White River Main turns sharply right (and downhill at about 17 km [note signposts are at all even-kilometer points]) to cross over the White where Victoria Main goes straight ahead.  After crossing this bridge, bear sharply left to continue along White River Main.
  • At about 29 km, go left down Stewart Main for about 200 metres to where the bridge has been removed.
  • For a day-hike, this is the best place to start along the White River Riparian Trail.  It is marked by a VI Spine Trail signpost on the edge of a road widening used for parking/camping.

To drive to the western end of the trail, continue along White River Main to just before its junction with Kokummi Main; the trail leaves the road just before and on your right you see an old quarry that continues to the junction.

N.B. White River Main is a regularly used active logging road; you will encounter loaded logging trucks on weekdays and often during weekends.  Always assume active hauling and drive with extreme caution (logging traffic is radio-assisted, but not radio-controlled).  Pull over and stop well off the traveled surface of the road (in a turn-out if possible), whenever you meet a loaded or empty logging truck.

 

GPS Coordinates:

50° 05′ 46.0″ N  126° 03′ 07.7″  White River Riparian Trail on Stewart Main near former bridge crossing of the White.

50° 04′ 32.1″  N 126° 08′ 44.8″ W  West end of White River Riparian Trail, re-joining White River Main.

 

Parking

Parking at the start of the trail down from the Consort Creek bridge is limited to 2-3 vehicles in road-widenings.

Trail parking is available (for 4-5 vehicles) in a now inactive, wider section of Stewart Main on the approach to the old bridge over the White.

At the far (western) end of the trail, parking (for 4-5 vehicles) is available in the old quarry on the right (north) side of White River Main just prior to its junction with Kokummi Main.

 

Other Trails in This Area:

There is a short trail into an impressive old-growth alluvial forest (15) within White River Provincial Park.  It is on your right about 7 km along Victoria Main from its junction with White River Main where White River Main turns sharply right and downhill to cross over the White River. Victoria Main is also an active logging road with some sections/bends of poor visibility.

gil-parker-on-white-river-trail

15. Past President, Gil Parker, strikes a pose in White River Provincial Park.

 

Comments are closed.