Some people will know this trail as Stairway to Heaven or Summit, however it is on the official municipal list as #608 Father, Son and Holy Cow.
This well-used double-track path leads up and over the hill to Greenwood Way and has a spur to the summit knoll in Merrill Park. Built in 2005 as a mountain bike trail, it has become a favourite with hikers enjoying a stiff walk in the urban forest.
The trail entrance is at the small bridge over the drainage ditch about 70 metres east of the end of Angelus Lane where there is a sign marked Summit. The switchback trail is not overly steep and the view at the summit is well worth the effort.
The Trails Society has built three new access links into Merrill Park and these are located at the end of Greenwood Way and off Highlands Way North.
An urban forest is not an oxymoron. There are many fine examples in our town.
The words “urban forest” have a rich connotative sound that brings forth images of mature trees and pleasant trails, yet the name is meant to draw attention to the plant and animal species that exist within heavily settled areas. By doing so, we should become more aware of our fragile surroundings and our wild neighbours.
Urban forests are green infrastructure providing some essential services to humans. These services include rainwater management, air purification, shade, carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat. Biodiversity, human health and community livability are all improved by properly designed and properly maintained urban forests.
The competing pressures of residential development, recreation and industry need not squeeze space for trees. More information is available from Canadian Urban Forest Network at www.cufn.ca. Our town needs a municipal management plan for our urban forests.
Risk of forest fire
The major downside to urban forests is the increased risk of forest fires. We live in a vibrant forested area and are well aware of the dangers of wildfires.
Since the number one priority of municipal government is the protection of its citizens, there is a need to abate the very real threat of wildfires. The catastrophic interface is much too close to many homes, yet the fuel that feeds wildfires is not being removed from treed areas inside our town.
We all need to be more proactive in removing underbrush and not rely solely on government efforts. Existing hazards should be identified and incorporated into a real-time Community Wildfire Protection Plan, which needs wide promulgation.
At 16 hectares, Merrill Park is an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) which means that it has attributes worthy of retention and special care.
The productive area for plants and small mammals requires that the moss-covered rocky outcrops be protected. So, stay on the trail and do not disturb the forest floor.
Properties adjacent to treed areas are worth an extra 10 per cent on the real estate market. Not only is your pocketbook increased, your quality of life also improves by having restful wooded spaces nearby.
Our Official Community Plan, BC Wildlife and Species at Risk Act all acknowledge the need to have and protect ESAs. A missing piece in our community is the lack of wildlife corridors. Merrill Park is named for R.D. Merrill (1869-1964), who was a partner in the Merrill and Ring Logging Company, which logged the area from Shannon Falls to Brohm Lake from1926 to 1949.
Father, Son and Holy Cow
A fine hike uphill in a mature forest with a spur line to the summit bench.
Origin of name: Starts behind the Catholic church, hence the Father and Son, and ends on the summit with a great view, hence Holy Cow.
Trailhead: East end of Angelus Lane behind St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church.
Difficulty: Moderate blue.
Elevation: 85 to 154 metres.
Etiquette: Help the trail volunteers, pack your garbage out.