A Brief History of Trails in the Paulson X-Country Ski Area

Dennis Holden, Past President of CCNC.
January 2005


Rossland-Paulson Trail

The Rossland-Paulson Trail was first built in 1899.  At that time there was active trapping and prospecting in the area. As a result, there developed a small collection of cabins at Sheep Lake (now Nancy Green Lake) with a supply depot and a place to leave mail. Trails lead from here to the Bonanza Mine, Paulson on the railway, Shields on Arrow Lakes, Castlegar via Gem Hill and to Northport USA. In1925 the administration of these trails was turned over from Public Works to the Forest service. In 1927, Jack Killough was given a contract to improve the Rossland-Paulson trail. Some sections of old corduroy logs can still be found on the trail where it crosses the Norwegian trail.

 

Ben Shaw Trail

Ben Shaw (born 1860 in New Brunswick) established, around the turn of the century, a trapline and string of 10 cabins stretching from Big Sheep Creek up to Sheep Lake and over to Shields on the Arrow Lakes. One of his cabins still stands just to the SW of Mud Lake. By 1926 it was noted that lynx, marten and beaver were quite plentiful plus there was the usual coyote, cougar and a plentiful supply of both black and grizzly bear. In 1930, a large fire occurred in the area which has resulted in the dense, mature, beetle infested pine stands that are presently being logged. Ben Shaw died at Sheep Lake in the Fall of 1935 and was buried at the headwaters of Blueberry Creek . After his death the trapline was run by Ma Shaw and Gunnar Erickson. Gunnar bought the line outright in 1942 and continued to trap in the area until the late 80's.

 

Gunnar Erickson’s Trail to Goat Mt and the Merry Creek Road

In the early 1960's the Forest Service built a project trail into the Goat Mountain area where Gunnar Erickson was trapping. Gunnar was born in Sweden and died in Rossland 1999. There is a plaque in his memory located on the ridge approximately 400m.south of the end of the Glenmerry road.  The plaque, set in concrete, states his name, dates and the note “a trappers paradise”.

The trail to Goat Mt. became a road in the summer of 1975. The lower end of the road was built by the George Merry Logging company and continued in use until1980.

 

Seal Creek Road, Bootie’s Trail and the Sunshine Cabin

Booty Griffith (born 1916) arrived in Rossland in 1937.  By 1946 he was busy selling the first X-country skis and promoting the sport in this area.  In 1973 Booty and friends ( The X-C Runners) began exploring the Ben Shaw trail and newly opened Seal Creek road.  In 1974 they built the Ben Shaw shelter.  This plastic covered A frame became the prototype for some 16 more shelters built across the upland area. Later in 1976 they located, SE of Ben Shaw, the Sunshine cabin and Adventure trail.

 

Highway 3

A survey for the Blueberry-Paulson section of Hwy. 3 began in 1954 and the road was completed in 1962. At that time there was a house and barn located near the highway crossing of Big Sheep Creek. The highway gave easy access to the area but not much recreational skiing was noted in the area until 1972. In 1973 the Forest Service brushed out the Rossland-Paulson trail, upgraded the Seal Creek road and put 2 picnic tables near Mud Lake.

 

Winterberry Trail

In 1976 the Winterberry Trail from Nancy Green Lake to Mud Lake was proposed by the Selkirk College students in order to link the two ski areas together. The trail was constructed by the Wildland Recreation students under the direction of Rod Loftus in 1977.

 

Formation of the Castlegar Nordic Ski Club

By 1977 some conflicts between the general public, the snowmobilers, the skiers of the Sons of Norway and the X-C Runners from Rossland  were noted by the Forest Service.  As a result a planner, Barry Dougal, was hired in 1978 and a meeting was held to address these concerns. After some heated debate, it was agreed snowmobilers should stay to the North side of the Hwy. and Special Use Permits were to be issued in for the planned Nordic and two existing Bootie cabins. All cabins were to be open to the public. Ivar Reinsbakken, recreation director for the Sons of Norway and B. Griffiths, of the X-C Runners, were the signees. These two clubs and other interested individuals then went on to form the Castlegar Nordic Ski Club which  became a registered organization in1990.

 

Recent additions

 The trail brochure in 1981 shows the Nordic cabin, the Benshaw and the Sunshine (removed 1993) cabins. Then followed the building of the Pine and extensive trails in the Glory View basin.  The Norwegian loop was first traversed by the author and his daughters in 1984 and was built in1986 by George Apel’s crew under direction of Dave Fitchett, Recreational Officer for the Forest Service. The Glenmerry cabin was built by the Castlegar Nordic Ski Club in 1989.

Much of the trail development of the 1990's and 2000's has been driven by the need to log beetle infested lodgepole pine .  A total chance plan for roads/trails has been established and it has provided excellent opportunities for X-country skiing.  Potential still exists to open new trails to join the Glenmerry with the Seal Creek road and to connect the Paulson and Bonanza areas via the waterfalls on Michner Creek.. Current and planned activities will be covered in the CNSC Newsletters.

The maintenance of these trails and cabins has depended on the generous support of the BC Forest Service, Sons of Norway and dedicated club volunteers. The Paulson Country Ski Area has a long history and a great future.  Hopefully it will be appreciated and protected by all.