TRAIL’S ROCK WALLS – A Walking Tour Adventure
These walking tours were conceived and produced with great reverence for the many men who had a hand in these walls. The names of those we know of are listed below. The routes are named after food common to some of the workers’ nationalities.
As you noodle around Trail’s rock walls, we hope you delight in their extraordinary crafting, and pause to contemplate the intensive labour that went into hauling, shaping, and carefully placing each stone. Look closely at how the rocks were placed. You may spot “twin” rocks, the result of drilling. Perhaps you’ll hear the clank of a sledge hammer striking a chisel or the crack of a rock splitting.
As far as we know, our walls were constructed from the early 1900’s to the mid-60’s. As you explore the routes, you’ll become familiar with the eras in which they were built.
Earlier years: (20s – early 40s) – dry-stacked, no mortar, small rocks, easily shaped and lifted by hand, mortared rock, simple detailing, many cracked and deteriorating, dry-stacked slate, or round rocks, either loosely laid or embedded in cement
Middle years: (40s – early 50s) – dry-stacked, larger granite chunks, some drill holes, hand-hewn, moved with muscle, crow bars and an old bear paw crane
Later years: (50s – 60s) – large boulders, more evidence of drilling; moved with muscle and crow bars, larger unit crane and shovel, private mortared walls with refined detailing, split river rock and mortared walls
The builders are honoured with a listing: 15 stone masons, 3 relief camp workers, 8 smelter workers, 28 in the city crew, 19 in the parks gang, 11 equipment operators, and 5 quarrymen.
Please buy the brochure $2. It has maps. The walks are reproduced here to show a flavour of Trail. I have done them all and had great fun seeing Trail. Make sure to eat at the Colander after walking walls.
1. Linguini Linger 2.5 km Rigorous
Begin kitty corner from The Colander and head down Cedar Ave. to view an interesting set of stone stairs before the covered stairway. Take the eight cement steps to your left, and walk toward the Trail Labour Centre’s rock walls: granite, river rock, some split, some roughly embedded in cement. A bronze plaque on the entrance wall honours the builders. Along Portland St., head up the alley for a wall erected with enormous granite chunks. Back to Portland; turn right.
Cross Bay Ave., amble past Jubilee Place, left on Groutage Ave., and left at the fire hydrant. A gorgeous split rock wall leads you to the stone planters along Jubilee Park. Linger at the large crescent-shaped stone planter overlooking the river. Backtrack to the fire hydrant, pussyfoot left to the path along the river (or head along Groutage Ave.) leading to the Columbia River Skywalk and the Rotary Park gazebo. Continue to the site of the “Old Trail Bridge” and peruse the mountainside for remnants of old rock walls.
Rock and roll up those stairs, pausing to take in the river views. Once on Topping St., stagger up to the last garage on the left. Scoot behind the railing to a possibly overgrown public path, treading carefully–worth the short jaunt past the end ofTopping to see the very old tiered rock wall above.
Retreat to Topping, nip left, and up End St., and note the dry rock wall in the yard to your right. Right on Daniel St. (unmarked.)Stop after the second house on your right, across from Wilmes Lane. Here, between two houses, walk on the old service road, often referred to as “Coal Bin Road”. Substantial stone walls support this road which once supplied coal to nearby homes. Now, trudge up Wilmes Lane, noting the stone foundation of Daniel’s oldest house on your right. Prance along (it’s all downhill from here) following the stone storm drain and checking over the railings for stone walls. Can you find the deep stone culvert along the bank? Keep on, past the access road to Daniel St., to #1916 Wilmes, which has a massive stone drainage system.
Heel and toe it to the second set of stairs and descend to Daniel St. Park. The sidewalk at the bottom leads to a brown house, the site of Digby’s corner store, which opened in the 1930s and was operated from their garage. Walk to the front of the park to see its support wall, then down the road to meet the lower part of Daniel. Cross to Munter St. and look back to the layers of rock walls you are leaving behind. Munter, Trail’s highest wall at 340-ft x 25- ft winds around to Topping where you turn left. Note the rock walls, stairs, and pillars on the corners. Make a right on Aspen St., and follow it right down to the huge stone wall. Its first section is a tiered conglomeration of river rock and granite with its top portion made of smaller granite pieces: no drill marks, indicating an older hand-lain wall. Back up Aspen and descend the covered stairs on your right to Portland and Cedar, taking time to appreciate the retaining wall and stone gutter on the left along the stairs, and the two slate walkways leading from the stairs.
Mmm, smell that Colander linguini.
2. Tortellini Trek 3kms Rigourous.
Begin at the stone garage behind City Hall (1394 Pine Ave). Trek up Spokane St., where a myriad of stone walls support the old Central School playground, now privately owned. On your left, rock walls shore up the yards lining the stairs. Where Spokane St. is cut off by a Green Ave wall, take the path to your right near the cement garage to view the grandeur of the curved wall above. Pass the old school, troop down the hill a ways, then turn right into the little alley to a large dry-stacked wall. Cross Green to view the bronze plaque, then walk uphill and climb the stairs across from the old school.
Massive walls at the entrances to Warren Lane and Warren St. tower to your right. Across from Warren St., respecting the owners’ privacy, admire the residence with meticulous stone crafting, complete with hand-hewn decorative stone pillars. Turn right onto Warren St., and behold a fascinating display of rock walls. The first is partially disguised with vegetation. Roam Warren St. to the stairs, which begin in a driveway to your right. Descend to Warren Lane and walk left to the end, noting the shape of its retaining wall and other rock work along the way.At the top, walk to Birch Avenue and then get to the blue building, 1191 Nelson Ave. Cross Nelson and make a sharp left to begin the hike up Lookout St. Observe its retaining wall at the bottom, and the old rock walls holding up the yard on the corner. Up the hill bordering the sidewalk, are rectangular openings in the capped rock and mortar walls. Coal was once deposited through these onto coal chutes for the houses below. Another unique feature is the curved drainage outcropping on the sidewalk. Peer over the wall to see the stonework supporting Lookout.
Head back and take the stairs to Nelson Ave. below. The yard across Nelson Ave. has a rock wall constructed with large stones. Keeping on this upper road, head right and pass the Lookout St. entrance. Stroll along the antiquated walls lining the sidewalk. Note the 5 stone pillars at the yard across the road. Round the bend to your left, and across to the stairs leading downtown.
Before reaching City Hall, trek up Tamarac Ave. (the street sign is by the red sandbox). The sidewalk rests on dry rock. Near the top, glance down to see the Gorge Creek culvert and a two-tiered rock wall. Walk to the end of Tamarac and descend the stone stairs to the left. At the yellow bridge, ancient walls, built to hold the creek, are evident. Back to Tamarac, then left on Ash St. Take the stairs and reconnect with Spokane St. Descend and shortly, Ravine St. rises to your right. If you climb this hill, you will see a great view of the tiered walls supporting Tamarac above. Now back to City Hall for a progress report on Trail’s latest projects.
3.Lasagna Loop 1.5 km Moderate
Leave Hall Printing, 815 Victoria St., head right, cross Pine Ave., then turn right toward the stone wall holding up the “Old Smelter Hill”. You will see its bronze plaque. Examine the crafting of this wall. Stroll across the parking lot to the sidewalk and walk right until you cross the bottom of the Old Smelter Hill. Traverse the highway at the lights to a short road called 2n d St. Walk up it and head left, up an old road that was part of Green Ave., to a set of wooden, and then stone, steps. Take these to Glover Rd. and climb the hill to see the Binns St. retaining walls above, noting beautiful stonework at 912 Glover. Head back down Glover to the second set of stairs on your left (wooden). As you descend these, you’ll notice a quaint finger-detailed rock wall at the yard to your right, and, to your left-more dry rock retaining walls.
At this point, a lower road loops around to your right. Amble along it to view several rock walls in behind the houses. You will come to the retaining wall supporting the lower part of Glover – you can see it wind around the corner up the hill. Return to ascend those wooden stairs and walk down Glover. Cross Glover, go left, then immediately right onto the very short road (Tamarac). This takes you to a most interesting set of stone stairs, dubbed “The Crooked Stairs”. Shuffle up these stairs to another piece ofTamarac and walk to the very end, examining the hillside near the old school stairs for retaining walls up the bank. The high mortared stone walls at 1270 Tamarac are relics, built in the late 30s. Step down the stone stairs, bordered by a stone gutter, to Eldorado St. (stone wall, Cenotaph) and veer left along the alley which is lined with lovely short stocky retaining walls. At the lane’s end, and before turning left up Farwell St., glance across the road to the stone walls and stairs bordering two houses.
Advance up Farwell, approaching the Green Ave Hill. Can you identify the seven layers of rock walls beginning at the bottom of the bank? Snake around the narrow road to your right for a close-up of the remarkable Green Ave wall. At this juncture, take a few steps to your right to the top of another stairway, noting the finely-fitted rock wall bracing the house on the corner across Green Ave. Tread down the stairs, admiring the splendid rockwork along the way and press on to Hall for your printing needs.
4. Haggis Hike 1.5 km Rigorous
Exit The Colander and cross Cedar Ave. at Helena St. Follow Helena to the end where it meets the alley behind Hazelwood House (877 Helena) built in 1934. Hike the covered stone and mortar steps leading up to Pine Ave., noting the short, slightly capped walls along them. Part way up on the left are two small rock retaining walls; on the right near the top is another. There are more above, on the left and right of the exit at the top.
Walk up the sidewalk on Pine Ave. noting a stone wall across the road. Round river rock and mortar walls and stone stairs lead up to the house at 1566 Pine. Continue up the hill, passing the huge curved dry rock wall topped with a 2-ft capped rock and mortar wall on your right. Take the crosswalk to Diamond St. The bronze plaque names the stonemasons who built the 25-ft rock and mortar wall that looms on your left. Hike up Diamond to see another angle of the curved masterpiece on the right. Diamond turns into Short St. Follow Short, pass the Wilmes Lane intersection and trudge up Palyga Drive’s steep hill. Cross Gorge Creek and walk until you reach Green Ave. Lane, a steep, narrow road to your right just before the entrance to Lookout St.
Head down this steep hill on the right known as ‘the goat trail’. Check out the remnants of a rock wall and a retaining wall leading into a carport. At the bottom descend the stairs to your right; at the first house is interesting rockery and a lovely split river rock support wall. Covered stairs, which were built to access people’s homes above, soon appear to your right. As you begin to climb, you will see sloppily cement-covered stone stairs and mortared stone flowerbeds at the end of the first wooden landing. The stone walls retain the yard above the next house. More rock walls at the top; some patched and some replaced with concrete. A long stone wall, (bordering cement stairs), curves around and up to a white and pale blue house. At #1482, more stone retaining walls terrace the yard.
Begin your descent. Pause to enjoy the views of town and of the Green Ave walls. At the bottom, go down the fourteen stone steps bordered by short rock walls. Here you will see one of Green Ave:s large retaining walls on your left. This wall cuts off Spokane St. which used to be a cobblestone street. As you continue down to town, turn your attention to the layers of multi-fashioned walls on your left and the retaining walls supporting the yards on your right. Pause to see the wall winding up Tamarac Ave., then descend the next twelve stairs, turning to view the river rock retaining wall. Once at the bottom, cross Pine Ave., and walk down to Cedar, for a light lunch at The Colander.
5. Rigatoni Ramble 3.6km Rigorous
Turn left when you leave the Colander, cross Helena St, walk o tPortland, a=make a left to Bay Ave and turn right. Half a block down, follow Oak St at the “Y”. You can hike all along Oak to view some curious old stone walls and stairs on the right, and the retaining wall on the down hill side near the top. It begins after #1975 and ends when the sidewalk ends. the rest of the wall at the top is still timber cribbing. Reverse your steps. At Oak and Elm is a handsome curved retaining wall. Shortly, you’ll take the stairs from Oak to Topping St, noting an old 4-ft wall at the entrance to the stairs from Oak to Topping St noting an old 4-ft wall at the entrance to the stairs. Cross Topping at the island and advance up the Bay Ave hill to Daniel St, where attractive retaining walls welcome your entrance. Several massive boulders form the base wall at the stairs across the road. Survey the walls down Daniel to your right, but head left.
After climbing the Daniel hill, walk about a block and take the lower Daniel road to stroll along this superbly crafted dry-stacked wall, noting the decorative drainage allowance halfway along. On the main road again, keep an eye out for a stone root cellar and extensive stone walls on the downhill side. Carry on around End St to your left, and onto Topping, where you can examine the multitude of walls for their impressive variety and c=scan the hillside for glimpses of the remarkable Daniel St retaining walls. As you hoof it to the end of Topping, observe the exquisite stone garage on your way and try to catch sight of the stone chimney. Search out the stone-stepped drainage system in one of the yards on the uphill side. This unique system is worth looking for.
Ramble on to Munter where you’ll be treated to a pleasing view of the monstrous Munter-Daniel wall and mountainside behind it. Almost at the end of Topping, view the beige two-story home with beautiful rock work in front and a lovely curved, stone staircase leading up to the house. Walk down the Pine Ave Hill, over half way, to the stone stairway on the right, just a ways down the driveway. Step down these, paying particular attention to their construction and to the medley of walls on either side. You will arrive at Helena At. Walk on to the Colander where spaghetti and meatballs await you.
6. Manicotti Meander 2.6km Easy to Moderate
Get your cheese, cold cuts, and cornetti before beginning this walk. Stepping out of Star Grocery walk left beside the carefully constructed dry rock wall next door, to the covered stairway on your left. Ascend the stairs to LeRose St. and turn right. You’ll soon see an old wooden coal chute on the bank side. Below the railing Le Rose St’s retaining wall. You’ll encounter stairs to the left and right. Head down to the first landing to view the enormous stones forming its magnificent wall. Head back the top of the stairs, cross the street, and walk up the next flight. Proceed left, observing the curvature of the wall supporting the sidewalk and Binns St.
At the “Y” in the road, look down the bank to your left, for a quaint stone wall and stone stairs, leading to the Binns St. Pumpin gStatin. Across the street is a lovely rock wall with stone steps beside it. Advane along Binns (the bank side) and stop at #374 to admire the sone oven and fountain in this yard. Just a few steps ahead you’ll turn right along the short road to reach Austad Lane. Left along Austad. Observe the two stone walls, along the yards on the right. At Austad Land Park, walk straight ahead to the 3-way intersection. Take one crosswalk and head right up McAnally St to where the road splits. Go right. Explore this little road to the end for two stone gutters (one being especially unique) and a fe old stone retaining walls. Retrace the road back to the 3-way intersection and cross to the side walk on your right. As you meander along, you can’t help but notice the S-curved stone beauty that supports the sidewalk. Note the tightly-knit boulders next to the yellow garage. turn right up Dockerill St.
At Nelson Ave, hike to the right up the Hendry Lane hill, passing stone, terraces on your left. While catching your breath, admire the massive stone wall, terraces and stone staircase that landscape the grounds of the former La Face homestead at the top. This site provides a spectacular vista of Trail. turn back to Nelson Ave. Ahead are two street levels, each bordering a landscaped green space lined with ten types of retaining walls. Follow Nelson Ave to the bus stop near a short flight of stairs, turn left onto “B” St, and walk to “B” St Park. Take the left staircase and cross the first level of the park: rock walls on both sides. Now, guide your feet with enthusiasm down a set of stone stairs leading to a natural “amphitheatre”.
Allow your eyes to follow the circular formation of the mortared walls until you reach another set to stairs bringing you to Glover Rd. Descend. Walk up Glover and take the stone stairway on the right. The sidewalk at the bottom leads you straight up Bell Place to an immense wall that must be seen, and an old flat, slanted rock wall.Retrace Bell to Rossland Ave and Head left past a nice stone wall near Nellie’s Ristorante and a fascinating curved wall and staircase leading to the home at the end of the driveway beside the Rex Hotel. Star Grocery isn’t far from here.
7. Polenta Prowl 2.4 km Moderate
Exit Star Grocery (328 Rossland Ave.) and head left.The dry rock wall next door sports a commemorative bronze plaque indicating the stonemason in charge. A stone/mortar wall further along has been there since the 5Os. About a block past the covered staircase, direct your eyes to the charming stone garage, with its commemorative bronze plaque, built into the hillside. Toddle along Rossland Ave. and turn left up Binns St. which is bordered by stone walls on both sides. At LeRose St., two of its dry rock walls are visible . Stay on Binns, make a sharp right on Reservoir Rd. (first right) and hike up the steep hill (with Trail Creek on your right) to Kitchener St., to catch sight of the delightful little hand-hewn stone wall, where Kitchener meets Reservoir, built in the 3Os. Further up Reservoir are large mortared walls below the only house on that hill.
Retrace your steps to Kitchener and follow it to the red covered staircase. Descend to Esling St. and glance to the right. Note the repair work on a rock and mortared wall beside the house whose window sits on top of the wall! (Please be mindful of the owners’ privacy.) Esling is supported by an immense rock wall, viewed by continuing down the stairs. At the bottom of this flight, you’ll cross Binns St., and take the stairs there down to LeRose St. Turn right on LeRose and cruise along to the very end, prowling around the bend for more stone walls. Backtrack to the same stairs, but head down to the first level, pausing to envision the original placement of the gigantic boulders forming the LeRose St. retaining wall.
Continue down the stairs to the short road (White St., unmarked). Stop, and look back up the stairs to see antiquated walls at the residence on the right. Head down White St. to Rossland Ave. and turn right. A stone staircase and two stone walls at the second lot on the right are visible. Advance, then pause to admire the lovely stonework enclosing the colourful flowerbed at the”Welcome to Trail” sign. Cross the highway, noticing the walls around St. Anthony’s Church. At the church, head toward town a little ways and then left onto Railway Lane. Stroll all along the Railway Lane wall, deliberately contemplating its splendorous construction. Once at the highway turn left, and head back toward the church. Can you smell the fresh Italian sausages at Star?
8. Spaghattini Shuffle 3 km Moderate
From Marino’s Wholesale, 1883 Fifth Ave., cross Main and walk one block to the bottom of the Fifth Avenue hill to view the high, dry rock wall in the lane which holds up this hill. Accompany the 5-ft, dry-stacked rock wall up the hill and you’ll notice it is constructed with small granite pieces, showing no evidence of drilling. The bronze plaque is mounted near the stairs. At the top, turn right on Rockland Ave. and shuffle to the end to view the stone retaining wall and stairs on the river side. Walk down Tolmie St., nearby, and turn left, heading back toward Trail. Continue going straight, past the first stop sign at the McBride St. intersection. At the next stop sign, make a sharp right up Fifth Ave.
Round the bend and applaud the beautifully crafted stone walls that terrace the home on the upper corner. Catch a glimpse ofTrail from this point. Resume your walk along Fifth, which becomes Bowser St. and turn right on Seventh Ave. One block down, on the left, you’ll see a rock wall starting at #2237. At #2295, on the corner, is a stone wall foundation with a spectacular stone chimney. Backtrack on Seventh, noting flat slanted rock walls to your left. Turn right at Bowser, walk half way up the block and view the stone wall in the alley to your right. Then, walk down the alley to your left. Reaching Brewster St. at Sixth Ave., step left. A gorgeous cobble stone fence is at 2162 Sixth. Keep on to Valleyview Dr. and descend the stairs to Fifth Ave. Cross the road.
Another set of stairs invites you to the laneway below, leading to Third Ave. As you proceed left on Third, you’ll notice a small rock and mortar wall at the rear of the last house on the left, just before the Stewart St. wall. Follow the 15O-ft tightly-stacked Stewart St. wall around. When you reach the corner of Stewart and Second Ave., veer left to see the long, low rock wall (219-ft) leading to Gardner St. Now, backtrack on Second and go past Stewart St. There is a rock wall with a plain cement cap at 2172 Second, and a rock and mortar one on the right at 2157 Second. Right on McBeth, and left on Third. Go to Mclean St. Cross Mclean and note the ancient retaining wall about half a block long, constructed with varying sizes and shapes of mostly river rock. Walk right on Mclean – another old wall is visible in the lane. At the corner ofFourth Ave. and Main, is a four-storey apartment building at #1633, fondly dubbed the “Vendramini Castle” in earlier years. The outer walls disguise
9. Pennini Pass 2.5 km Easy
Leaving Marino’s Wholesale at 1883 Fifth Ave., go left to Main St. and follow it four blocks until you pass the Aquatic Centre. Turn right on Columbia Ave. to view the rock walls fronting Butler Park – different levels, flowerbeds, and wide stone steps. Pass in front of the “Old Trail Bridge” and the Skywalk, cross McQuarrie St. and cruise straight ahead on Columbia to take a small set of stairs leading to the lane below. Walk beside the stone wall, part of which is concrete, to the end of the lane.
Before turning right up the little hill, observe the long retaining wall across the road, built in different eras with different techniques and materials – beautifully capped with stone at the edge of the grass. It is unusual to see so many drill marks in the dry stacked granite portion. You could saunter left from here to the end of this block where, across from Kiro Wellness Centre, are more old walls. Either way, turn up the little hill and head toward Butler Park. Promenade left on Thom St. where a round river rock wall is on your left. At Thom and Second Ave., pay particular attention to the attractive stone bleachers on the corner in Butler Park. Admire the attractively displayed bronze plaque in the mini flower bed. Head right on Second, and left on Park St. to see more antiquated walls to your left as you climb this little hill. Cross Third, noting the corner yard on your right, then keep walking along Park to Fourth Ave., where you will advance to the left. At the intersection of Fourth and McQuarrie is a striking curved stone wall to admire.
Cross McQuarrie to see the sturdy walls that are to your left and below you. Now walk along Fourth, down the hill. Several retaining walls can be seen behind one of the houses to your left. Head to Robertson St., where, if you look left up the hill, you can see a concrete block wall which used to be of stone construction. Follow Robertson to your right and you’ll stroll past a small fence built into a mini-river rock and mortar foundation. Go left on Fifth to the dead-end. A low deteriorating rock and mortar wall with a flat cement cap is on either side of the tunnel. Now, backtrack on Fifth to Circle St. to view the small house on the left corner, built on a rock foundation. Stroll along Circle St. where stone pillars and an attractive stone covered entrance are visible at two different homes near the end. Once back on Fifth, head left and you’re almost back at Marino’s, where you can pick up the rock candy you ordered.
10. Canneloni 2.8 km Easy
Begin by admiring the stone crafting right in the Gyro Park parking lot: huge boulders of varied shapes and sizes at both ends of the lot. Its craftsmen are honoured on the bronze plaque. Cross to Gyro Park and walk toward the river past the stone columns of the concession stand. Follow the sidewalk past the wide stairs to view Gyro’s bronze plaque. Head down the next staircase to see the “bleachers’: a multi-tiered stone/mortar retaining wall. You can walk on one of the ledges to the end and climb down to the path leading to the next flight of stairs. Ascend the stairs, walk left, and note the various rock walls on our right.
At the far end of the park at Hazelwood Dr., go left a ways up the little hill. Look toward a pretty view ofTrail over Bingy Bay and note the large rock wall supporting the sidewalk you just walked on. At this point you could walk the loop up and around Sunningdale (Hazelwood, Marianna, Hillside, and back to Bingy Bay) and view private rockwork enroute. This loop adds 2.2 km to the route. Heading back to Gyro, you can take the sidewalk all the way, or descend a stairway and explore the riverside.
When you reach the wide stone staircase leading to the beach, examine the tidy rockwork both on these stairs, and on the sidewalk’s old retaining walls. Canter around the park to your right, to the unnamed road along the river. Half a block down, a house completely built of stone with lovely decorative windows and a sturdy stone chimney will catch your eye. Round the block to view the front, but please respect the owner’s privacy. You are now on Columbia Avenue.
Backtrack on Columbia and turn left on Goepel. Cross Second Ave. and turn left onto Third Ave. Lane where a few older rock walls greet you. Halfway down is an interesting “character”wall, constructed mostly of river rock and odd stones. Toward the end of the block notice the bi-level, large stone wall and stairway made of mortared granite and river rock. Cross Taylor St. and continue along the Lane. View the stone stairs leading up to the corner house and notice the rock walls all along this dirt road. The Lane’s retaining wall is still below you and visible by looking over the edge. Tidy detailing around the rocks in the last yard and a little set of stone stairs are evident. Keep moving along and a little road leads you back to the Gyro parking lot… maybe the concession is open.
The Rock Wall Project Entusuastico Society