The Kinsol Trestle in Duncan, British Columbia

While journeying across the stunningly beautiful Vancouver Island on our May 2018 Fun Family Road Trip, we attempted to see and do as many things as we physically could, considering we had a four-year-old and a two-year-old in the car with us. This meant many items on my Vancouver Island bucket list could not be achieved (Gabriola Island and Mystic Beach come to mind) because of the length of the drive or hike.

However, one place that was easy accessible for young children was the gorgeous Kinsol Trestle Bridge near the town of Duncan, British Columbia.

We began our drive to Duncan from our resort in Nanoose Bay. The map led us along the coast, cruising through Nanaimo and through Duncan itself on the Trans Canada 1. Once past Duncan, we had to divert off of the Trans Canada for about 25 minutes down Cobble Hill Road and past Shawnigan Lake until we reached the Kinsol Trestle parking lot. (Definitely use your GPS to find this, as the road is a little winding and you don't want to get lost!)

The beautiful and peaceful path to the Kinsol Trestle bridge.

There is no fee to visit the Kinsol Trestle, which makes it a nice little day trip for families. There are port-a-potty facilities beside the parking lot too, which is always handy when traveling with little ones! Make sure you are prepared for your adventure, because it is a 1.2 kilometre hike from the parking to the actual train bridge. Use the facilities, make sure you have comfy shoes, and take a bottle of water if it's a hot day.

Here's a little background history on the Kinsol Trestle, just so you know why it caught my attention and why I slated it into our road trip itinerary. The Kinsol Trestle (also known as the Koksilah River Trestle because it is built overtop of the Koksilah River) was first built in 1911, and completed in 1920 after the first builders went bankrupt and the CN rail company took over. By the time it was completed, the rail line had been downgraded to a logging train line and was used until 1979. The name "Kinsol" is derived from the King Soloman mine which was located nearby.

A view of the Kinsol Trestle bridge as we head to the bottom.

What is unique about this bridge is its design. It is made of specially carved wooden beams called 'bents' which were carved one by one, all slightly different and slated for a specific spot in the bridge's blueprint. Because the bridge curves in an arc as it crosses the river, each wooden bent had to be designed and placed in very specific positions.  The carpenter numbered each bent and the construction workers were responsible for placing that particular bent in its correct spot within the bridge, much like building a puzzle.

The Kinsol Trestle bridge is an amazing feat of architecture.

Over time many of the original bents have been replaced, and some places are reinforced with metal, but overall, the bridge is still mainly constructed of these wooden beams in the unique arc formation. Not only does it have a unique composition, the bridge is also massive, standing 144 feet high and 617 feet long.

Today, the bridge is no longer used for trains, and the tracks have been replaced by a wide footpath made of solid wood. Visitors are able to walk across the bridge and then down to the river's edge to marvel at the trestle from below.

The wide and smooth footbridge across the Kinsol Trestle.

We began our trek to the trestle from the parking lot and enjoyed the walk out immensely. The trees were a vibrant green, the woods filled with birdsong and the path was very level and well-maintained. The kids made it the whole way without being carried, although our son tried very hard to convince Daddy to pick him up!

Once at the trestle, we ventured across. There are little outcroppings where you can walk out and look over the edge to study the trestle design below your feet. It gave me a little bit of vertigo, leaning over the edge like that! Even more so when my husband would hoist my kids up to the ledge so they could take their turn seeing over the side! If you get dizzy easily, may I recommend you stick to the main bridge and avoid the outcroppings!

Checking out the view on one of the many outcroppings.

At the far end of the bridge to the right is a little covered plaza perfect for resting in the shade and maybe having a snack or two. There are also more port-a-potties on that end, too.

To the left of the bridge and a little down are two flattened areas featuring picnic tables, so you can hike under the trestle and set up a little lunch if you desire. We wandered down to the first picnic area and I practiced flying my drone around the trestle and across the river. Another gentleman was flying his drone too (he was SO MUCH better than I could ever hope to be) and he was flying in between the actual trestles super fast and with flair. I'd love to see his footage!! I didn't crash my drone into the river, so I considered that a successful flight.

The trestle bridge from underneath.

Once the kids got tired of looking at the trestle from below, we hiked back up the rather steep incline to the top and returned across the trestle footbridge. By this time, my son was really done with walking, so my poor husband had to cart him back in his arms for most of the 1.2 kilometre hike.

All in all, we probably spent an hour and a half to two hours exploring the Kinsol Trestle. I'm sure if you did not have a two-year-old and a four-year-old with you, you could do it much quicker as the hike to and from the bridge took us the most time.

I definitely recommend a visit to the Kinsol Trestle bridge on Vancouver Island!

What I will say is that a visit out to the Kinsol Trestle is very much worth the drive and the accompanying hike! The trestle is a marvel, and the natural area around it is breathtakingly beautiful too. Watch the video to see what I mean, and don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel while you are there!

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