These trails are all joined together in their own little system and can form various loops, especially if you walk the short stretch of roadway between the two trail-heads, one on Thompson Road and one on Hope Spring Road. These trails are close to Heriot Bay, yet they place you in wilderness where wolves roam during winters and barred owls are commonly seen and heard. You pass some of the most magnificent old growth trees on Quadra.
Drive north from Heriot Bay for about two minutes and you’ll see Hope Spring Road running off to your left. Drive up Hope Spring Road to its end; you will pass Thompson Road on your right as you go. The Hope Spring Trail begins at the end of Hope Spring Road. From the parking area at the end of Hope Spring Road hike up the trail past impressive rock overhangs on your right which were used by First Nations in pre-European days. Hike to the top of the hill and here the trail forks.
At the top of the hill the trail forks and is signposted. Left takes you downhill to Thompson Trail and to the Three Sisters, and right takes you the few minutes to the lookout, and along the Heriot Ridge Trail. On the northern part of the rock knoll of the lookout is a government brass trig pin set into cement in the rock with the date 1949 stamped into it, and a strong warning to not tamper with the trig pin. At this time, 1949, during and just after WW II, most Allied countries such as Canada conducted intensive topographical surveys in case of enemy invasion, which included much aerial photography, map-making, and trig pin placements. The trig pin is shown below, (GPS co-ords: 637’above sea level, N50, 5.983′, W 125, 14.005′)
This is a good lookout over Heriot Bay and Cortes Island and then continues along Heriot Ridge, giving good views of Campbell River, Discovery Passage, and Vancouver Island and its mighty mountain chain, The Strathcona Range. Hike north along the ridge for about 40 minutes and you will hit the Thompson Trail. If you turn right here you hike about 15 minutes, past another few lookout side-trails, down to Thompson Road and from there can walk the road back to you car in 10 minutes. But, if you turn left when you hit Thompson Trail you can follow the Thompson Trail, past its turnoff to North Gowland Harbour Road, through the forest back to Hope Spring Road and your car, and visit the Old Growth Groove along the way. The Old Growth Groove is down a signposted side-trail on the west of the main trail and holds five or six huge old firs about 300- 400 years old. When you return from these old trees to the main trail you continue hiking south for about 10 minutes and will pass The Three Sisters on your right, right beside the trail (GPS coordinates: N 50, 6.012′ W125, 14.307′) Look sharply or you will walk right past them just eight feet off the trail. They blend themselves magically into the background and perhaps that’s why they are still living after 500 years and more. These three magnificent old firs stand very close together and were already strong young trees centuries before Europeans arrived on these shores. These three trees are between 500 and 650 years old and must be seen close up to be appreciated and experienced. Stand silently beside them and you may feel their presence, and they, yours.
Standing before one of The Three Sisters, on The Thompson Trail, with the other two ancient, giant trees on each side of this hiker. (GPS coordinates: N 50, 6.012′ W125, 14.307′).
Keep hiking south past the Three Sisters for 10 minutes until you arrive where the trail climbs up steeply to the left. There is also a trail running off to the right here, which is semi-private and goes to Gowland Harbour Road. You now follow the trail up to your left, up to the top of the hill and there you will find yourself back on the Hope Spring Trail at the point where you turned off to hike Heriot Ridge. From this point it is 15 minutes back down to your car along the same stretch of trail you set out along.
The turnoff trail to North Gowland Harbour Road runs off the Thompson Trail about 10 minutes from its intersection with the Heriot Ridge Route when you take the right-hand fork when coming off Heriot Ridge. The North Gowland Harbour Trail leads you up through fir forest and after five minutes there is a side-trail on your left to Rosseau Ridge and Lookout. You follow this trail for only a few minutes then must do a bit of a scramble to the top of the knob, but the view is well worth it.
The Rosseau Ridge Trail takes you up onto open rock and climbs an impressive exposed knob of basalt, which comprises much of Quadra Island’s rock, and this knob is great for some easy rock scrambling if you like that, otherwise stay on the trail; and there are great views from the top, where the trail ends. Return to the main trail and continue north, downhill towards Gowland Harbour. Soon after leaving the Rosseau Ridge turnoff you will see a biking trail branching off to your left which eventually ends at Gowland Harbour Road, although the last section of this trail crosses private property where bikers and hikers are not legally permitted and not welcome due to gates being left open and disrespect being shown to private property. So, it is not in fact a thoroughfare trail to Gowland Harbour Road and you must turn back before entering the private property, thank you.
The main trail continues downhill past this bikers’ turnoff trail, crosses a logging track-road, and continues downhill for 20 minutes to a wooden footbridge then climbs a short distance and very soon hits North Gowland Harbour Road and ends there.
If you hike the Thompson Trail from the Thompson Road end you will after 10 minutes pass a short signposted side-trail going off to your right to a knob looking out over Heriot Bay. Another ten minutes past this turnoff is another trail going right, known as the ‘B&B Trail’ which takes you, in about 15 minutes down to Hyacinth Bay Road, from where you can return to your car along the same trails or walk back to Hope Spring and Thompson roads via the main road. The B&B Trail is not officially maintained by The Quadra Island Trails Committee.