Trails where salmon spawn, bears roam and eagles soar | Squamish Chief

Trails where salmon spawn, bears roam and eagles soar

Mamquam area provides perfect place to push a stroller

Reflecting on the work that has gone into the recovery of spawning salmon along these channels, what is striking is the honest concern of many residents of our area. A bustling logging industry, rapid residential growth, exuberant commercial fishing and some natural events during the period 1915 to 1982 have contributed to a serious decline in the number of salmon spawning along the Mamquam River.

In 1983, the provincial salmon enhancement program was initiated, and one project was to rejuvenate the gravel beds along the river from Government Road to Mashiter Creek. During the spring thaw of 1981, the water breached the old dike at the east end of the golf course, so plenty of material was required to add about three metres to the height of the dike. The soil had to be found nearby to keep costs down. The golf club management offered up the area of a large pond, and this plus dredged material was sufficient to add a new dike along the south edge of the golf course. Sam Goss and his crew worked for two months to complete this task.

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In 1996, a second and deeper spawning channel was created between the dikes. These channels have been successful in bringing back the spawning salmon. Severe dry periods in 2014 and 2015 made it necessary for Squamish Streamkeepers to capture and relocate salmon fry to deeper pools in these channels. A dike and aquifer survey of this area was conducted in 2015, and the results should provide an update to all stakeholders.

Another fine example of community involvement along these popular trails was the resurfacing done in 2014. Funding from Telus, reduced-cost pea gravel from Coast Aggregates, machinery from Squamish Valley Golf Club and volunteer labour coordinated by Squamish Trails Society all came together to make a significant improvement to the trail along the south dike. 

Parking is available at the trailhead on Mamquam Road east of the golf club, off Highway 99 about 300 metres north of the highway bridge over the Mamquam River, and off the west side of Government Road just past the road bridge over the Mamquam River.

A fine viewing platform made of cement is located under the powerline just south of the parking lot off Highway 99. Signage along the Dipper Trail explains the salmon cycle.

The big flood of 1921 saw the Mamquam River carve a new channel due west to the Squamish River and stop flowing south on the east side of Loggers Lane. Thus was borne the Mamquam Blind Channel. Under the guidance of the Squamish River Watershed Society, a culvert was inserted on the south shore of the Mamquam River to allow some fresh water to flow into and rejuvenate the blind channel.

These trails are a favourite with all users but especially with parents pushing strollers and prams. Sunny spots along the river, icy glacier-fed water, shady trees and lots of birds contribute to pleasant and peaceful hikes lasting from one to two hours. Nature adds to the experience by putting on shows at various times: spawning runs during September to December, eagles feeding November to January, bears stocking up on berries from September to October and various ducks and songbirds all the time. Plus, there is always a chance to encounter equestrian users exercising their fine horses.

 

Mamquam Spawning Channels Trails

Salmon, eagles, bears, raccoons and people come together on trails 610 and 613 along the network of spawning channels below the Squamish Valley Golf Course.  

Origin of name: Mamquam is the Squamish Nation word for a “smelly river.” This river got this name due to the rotting carcasses of spawned salmon.

Trailhead: On Mamquam Road about 50 metres east of the golf club building.

Use: double track, multi-use, non-motorized. 

Difficulty: easy (green). 

Elevation: 4 metres to 7 metres.

Etiquette: Noise pollution is aggravating. Travel quietly unless it is bear season.

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