The Ancient Cottonwood Interpretive Trail winds along the Elk River (P{hoto by Steve Short)

The Ancient Cottonwood Interpretive Trail winds along the Elk River (P{hoto by Steve Short)

Ancient Cottonwood Interpretive Trail

Ancient cottonwoods, British Columbia (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

Ancient cottonwoods, British Columbia (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

The Ancient Cottonwood Interpretive Trail winds through a grove of the world's oldest-known black cottonwood trees, with the most ancient dating back 400 years. Towering as high as an eight-story building, these trees provide homes for many species, including dens for black bears, holes for small cavity-dwelling creatures and habitat for many other songbirds and insects.

The trail

The two-kilometre loop trail winds through the lush understory of the forest and over several bridges before reaching the largest trees. Along the way, interpretive signs explain the ecological role of cottonwood trees and highlight some of the resident plants and animals.

How to get there

The Ancient Cottonwood Interpretive Trail is located 16 kilometres southeast of Fernie on Highway 3. Turn off on Morrissey Road. [see Google map]

Conservation history

In 2003, scientists confirmed the ages of the trees, putting the oldest at more than 400 years old. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) protected the cottonwood forest as part of a larger land acquisition in 2004. The Elk Valley Heritage Conservation area spans more than 25,000 acres (10,120 hectares) and includes Mt Broadwood and the Ancient Cottonwood Interpretive Trail. This conservation area creates an important corridor for wildlife, including bears, deer, elk and other large animals that traverse the valley.

Partners

  • College of the Rockies
  • Columbia Basin Trust
  • Fernie Rod and Gun Club
  • Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
  • Tembec
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Tula Foundation
  • Wildsight

Supporter Spotlight

Busenius, SK (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)