Smoke Bluffs Park loop trail complete

Hikers, runners, cyclists welcome to historic climbing area

Just a stone's throw away from downtown Squamish, the Smoke Bluffs municipal park has something for everyone.

Thanks to the recent completion of a three and a half year project, hikers, runners and cyclists can cover the entire park without backtracking thanks to the newly completed main loop trail. The trail provides park users with a circuit of the 20-hectare piece of land, which can be walked in about an hour.

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The Smoke Bluffs is widely known for great short granite climbs, but park advisory committee chair Brian Moorhead said he hopes the new trail will make more people realize the area is there for everyone's enjoyment, not just the climbers.

"It's surprising the number of people that hardly knows this exists," he said.

Races like the Mind Over Mountain Adventure Race (MOMAR) or the Test of Metal, which also utilize parts of the park, may lead people to believe it's a challenging terrain, but Moorhead hopes to spread the word that the area is suitable for anyone.

"It's not just super athletes and rock climbers," Moorhead said. "The bulk of the park is for the walking public.

"I want the general public to feel it's their park. They don't need to feel intimidated by the trails. The trails are designed for easy of travel."

In order to preserve the park, Moorhead encourages residents to enjoy their local amenities and explore its trails.

"The more they use it, the more they will enjoy it and approve of it and will protect it.

Its geographic location is ideal for anyone living downtown or Valleycliffe, especially families with little children, said Moorehead.

"The park is immediately accessible by foot or bicycle where as other parks, realistically with small kids, you have to get in a car and drive to it. You can walk here from downtown and you'll be in the park in 10 minutes.

"That's a huge bonus, it's kind of a Stanley Park for Squamish in the future."

As development sprawls across the town, Moorhead said he expects the Smoke Bluffs to become increasingly significant in the community.

"As all this residential closes in around here - which it will - this park will become extremely important to the community of Squamish."

The District of Squamish allocates $30,000 a year for the park's maintenance, which the committee puts to good use, according to Moorhead.

"It is extremely generous and we make it go far."

The municipality funds maintenance of three washroom facilities, several bike racks and a few information boards while the Squamish Access Society maintains the climbing areas.

In an effort to beautify the area and save on costs, last November the committee began accepting commemorative benches donated on behalf of a person or family.

"We said we'd be delighted as long as we had a choice on the site of the bench because we don't want it somewhere it can get vandalized or too close to the cliff edge," said Moorehead.

The only other stipulation is local woodworking artist Warren Brubacher must make the benches so designs remain cohesive.

Next year, the committee plans to start developing a children's adventure park near Panorama Place and an onsite campground.

For more information on the Smoke Bluffs Park or to purchase a commemorative bench, contact the District of Squamish parks department.

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