DOUKHOBOR WATERLINE TRAILThis trail was a spin-off from my work on Skattebo Reach Trail. It follows about half of the historic McPhee Creek waterline to its intake point on Big McPhee Creek and thus puts the hiker in direct contact with this important heritage resource. Major funding came from Columbia Power Corporation over several years, and my work was done through the Friends of Parks and Trails Society. For the complete account of the project development and the appropriate acknowledgments, see Doukhobor Waterline Trail Construction History.
The walking trail was constructed along 3.5 km. of the McPhee Creek waterline which was constructed by the Doukhobor community from Ootischenia to an intake high on Big McPhee Creek in 1927-28. The original line was over 8 km. long and consisted of 16 inch wooden stave pipe which was prefabricated in a factory in Ootischenia. Many trestles were used to carry the line across hillside gullies. In order to preserve the integrity of the historic structure as much as possible, efforts were made to balance retention of historic value against safety considerations. Hikers should be aware that the trail tread is minimal in width and runs parallel to the buried pipe which poses some hazard. To avoid breaking through into the buried pipe, hikers are cautioned to stay on the trail tread and cross the pipe only at the crossing points.
The trail leaves Skattebo Reach Trail on the wooded terrace south of Little McPhee Creek. It soon rejoins the waterline, which it had followed below the Brilliant Overlook cliffs. The segment of trail to the West Viewpoint follows what may have been a wagon road on which the line was laid. The trail briefly leaves the waterline to run into the West Viewpoint, above Little McPhee Creek. From here it runs back towards the line and passes a segment of what may have been a wagon road for transporting the pipe segments. The trail becomes narrow as it traverses the steep hillside and approaches Little McPhee Creek. Very obvious in the creek are the remnants of a massive debris flow which ended far below, just above the site of the present creek crossing of Skattebo Reach Trail.
The creek is crossed by a footbridge, and the trail continues out of the ravine to the East Viewpoint. Here it turns and runs parallel to the Kootenay river until it reaches the junction with the McPhee Canyon Trail. This can be followed downhill to Skattebo Reach Trail, or the waterline trail can be followed further to the intake on Big McPhee Creek, a further 2.2 km. This segment of trail exhibits many collapsed trestles and sections of pipeline in remarkably good shape. Hikers are requested to protect the integrity of the remaining pipeline by not disturbing it in any way. The terrain along this last segment of trail is predominantly very steep and extra caution must be used when walking along the trail.
The intake on Big McPhee Creek consisted of a concrete dam which supported a wooden bulkhead. Water was diverted into a wooden flume and carried to a screening box. From here, 18 inch stave pipe was assembled on site and secured by band clamps; this was fitted to the standard 16 inch wooden stave pipe which was held together by a spirally coiled wire.
Because of inherent hazards and possible degradation of the heritage values, this trail is closed to bicycles and horses.
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