Source of the Columbia Greenway | Canal Flats, British Columbia
A 1.5 km trail meanders through bulrush marshland, wet sedge meadows, willow and birch shrublands, and open spruce/trembling aspen forests. The trail leads to the Source of the Columbia, the headwater of the mighty Columbia River that travels 1243 miles and drops 2690 feet on its journey to the Pacific Ocean.
Driving Directions from Nearest Town or Landmark
This site is located in the Village of Canal Flats, British Columbia. Canal Flats is located on Highway 93/95 approximately 1 hour north of Cranbrook BC, and 3 hours southwest from Calgary, AB. Within Canal Flats, travel north on Grainger Road and then west on Beatty Avenue. Beatty Avenue terminates at the old airfield and you will see the trailhead sign kiosk on the north side of Beatty.
Estimated Time it Takes to Experience this Trail
Although this trail is easily accessible, there are many attractions within the immediate area and you will likely have the trail to yourself.
The trail meanders through bulrush marshland, wet sedge meadows, willow and birch shrublands, and open spruce/trembling aspen forests.
The trail is a well-compacted gravel surface approximately 6 feet in width, built up 2 feet above the surrounding marshland surface.
Highlights and Best Features of this Trail
The trail is located in the Columbia Wetlands, an internationally recognized wetland and the largest contiguous wetland in North America. The trail provides excellent viewpoints of unique marshland habitat, home to species-at-risk including western toad, painted turtle, American bittern, and great blue heron. The trail leads to and loops around the source of the Columbia River springing from the marshland and journeying north to Columbia Lake.
This site has historical significance to the Ktunaxa nation and interpretive panels at the site tell their creation story. The Columbia Wetlands are a vital component of the Pacific Flyway, a waterfowl migration route which stretches from nesting areas on the Arctic Ocean to wintering grounds in South America. BC Parks has designated this site a Wildlife Management Area, recognizing its significance and need for protection.
Trail Vertical Gain or Loss
Flat and level