Bonanza Gap (incomplete)

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The ‘Bonanza Gap’ is situated between Woss and the north end of Nimpkish Lake.  VITA is now planning for two route options in this section of the VI Trail:

  1.  A lower elevation, multi-use (hiking & biking) ‘rail trail’ along the Englewood Logging Railway that was closed down in 2017.  For this route, refer to the “Englewood Rail Trail” page.
  2.  A higher elevation route suited only to very experienced, strong back-country hikers, which for the most part is located along the upper slopes of the Bonanza Range.

This page deals with this second option, which for the foreseeable future will remain as a ‘route’ rather than a ‘trail’, suited only to experienced hikers wishing a greater challenge.

The Mount Ashwood area at the south end of the Bonanza Range can be accessed via the ridge north of Woss on the east side of the Gold Creek valley, i.e. via Mt. Markusen, as far as a high plateau with several small lakes and tarns situated south of Ashwood.  Two recent hiking parties have found that although the Ashwood summit is accessible from this plateau, hiking north from the Ashwood area is blocked by very steep, rocky and gullied terrain, forcing a descent into the upper reaches of the Bonanza River valley.

Once in the valley, about 3 km of old overgrown logging roads (likely to be re-built in the near future) can be followed down-valley to gain the lower end of a ridge that leads up to near the Bonanza Range crest NW of Ashwood.  The route then follows just below the crest for about 10 km to a point W of Whiltilla Mountain through a mix of subalpine mountain hemlock forest and parkland.  In several places it is only a short scramble up to the ridge/mountain crest and alpine.

The route skirts around the west side and more than 500 hundred metres below the Whiltilla massif, partly on inactive logging roads, before regaining the Bonanza crest a couple of kilometers NW of Whiltilla.  The route is again just below the crest for 3-4 km before transitioning to a high subalpine plateau with a number of small lakes and tarns.  The hiker then picks up an old logging road at the north end of the plateau, and follows this road down to the floor of the Bonanza valley at Ida Lake (campsite).

From Ida Lake, there are two route options:

  1. a low-elevation route follows logging roads NW and then W to a bridge over the Tsulton River (apart from two short sections to bush-wack between roads).
  2. a higher route involves a cleared trail that climbs up a gully (in old-growth) to the west of Mud Lake (south of and more or less adjoining Ida Lake).  From the upper gully and across the plateau-like Hankin Ridge the route involves bush-wacking through subalpine forest interspersed with small wetlands, ponds and lakes.  A cleared trail is projected to eventually better define this route (please send feedback on this section to vi-trail@lewis.bc.ca, should you go this way).  This route re-joins the low-elevation route on West Main.

From the crossing (bridge) over the Tsulton River, the route follows a logging road to a second bridge, this time passing over the Englewood Railway (this could be the end of the proposed ‘Englewood Rail Trail’).

From here to the NW, the route follows old logging roads to Highway 19 apart from a 400-metre bush-wack between two roads (this should at least be flagged by summer of 2019).

The route crosses directly over Highway 19 to old, partly overgrown logging road (soon to be re-built) to intersect with Kilpala Main (a busy mainline; stay well clear of passing logging trucks) a short distance before the main bridge over the Nimpkish River as it flows out of Nimpkish Lake.

From the Nimpkish bridge to Port McNeill is the ‘Namgis section of the VI Trail.

Maps and gpx tracks will be added here prior to summer of 2019.  In the meantime e-mail vi-trail@lewis.bc.ca if you need more information to plan your trip.