Hiking to the E&N Railway Trestle at Goldstream Provincial Park
A very popular, hike in Goldstream Provincial Park is the trail up to the old railway bridge crossing high above the Niagara Canyon. The trestle is a real treasure, hidden from view from below by the forest canopy and isolated from the canyon floor by a strenuous hike up the steep slopes of the mountain side. However, the hike is well worth the effort! Along the way, the trail passes the scenic Niagara Falls, which plunges 47.6 metres/156 feet to the pool below, and once you at the top, you’ll be impressed with the impressive steel structure, spanning the canyon supported by huge stone block abutments.
Be forewarned that this hike is difficult. The section of trail running to the top of Niagara Falls where a bridge crosses the stream isn’t bad, but from there some sections are very rough and very steep. There are some railings and stairs along the way, but there are many places where erosion and lack of maintenance has made the trail rather treacherous.
The railway line is presently not in use, but it is recommended that you do not walk on the trestle because technically you are trespassing and there are no safety railings or a walking platform, just open railway ties. It can be very easy to slip or trip and one false step could lead to death.
The bridge is part of the E&N (Esquimalt & Nanaimo) Railway whose last spike was driven on August 13th, 1886 by Sir John A. MacDonald. Regular passenger service commenced on September 30th, 1886.
A few years later, in 1905, the CPR purchased the E&N’s assets and in 1907 began upgrading the line, which included the elimination of the wooden trestles at Niagara and Arbutus canyons. The steel structure that exists today was completed in 1910.
No trains have operated on this line since 2015 when the rail service was suspended due to sections of track needing repair. The railway is presently managed by the Island Corridor Foundation, whose hope to start passenger and freight rail service through the area again.
How To Get There
The trail is accessed off Highway #1 at the Goldstream Park Day Use Area. There is a parking area right at the beginning of the trail to the falls and the trestle. However, you can only access this from the southbound side of the highway. If you are driving there from Victoria, you will need to continue past the main park entrance on your right and drive for about 5 km, following the signs to the U-turn route, and come back down to it. Alternatively you can park in the main day use area accessed off the northbound side of the highway and walk through the creek tunnel that passes under the highway. This may not be feasible during the winter months when water levels may be too high.
An easier way to the trestle, but much less direct is to hike along the rail line from the campground at Goldstream Provincial Park.