An old hiking trail outside Montrose, where the first TV signal was brought to the village, continues to garner interest from locals looking for an early spring hike and tourists in search for a spectacular view.
But while Antenna Trail continues to draw attention, hiking enthusiast Art Benzer is surprised that in one year, nearly 700 individuals signed in at the top of the Flag View Point Trail, an extension of the loop trail that was established about five years ago.
On Sunday, the former mayor with volunteers Hans Koerber and Joe Lourenco celebrated the first year of the sign-in-box at the summit.
“It really shows how many people are using it,” said Benzer.
While it’s a given that Kootenay hikers are drawn to Antenna Trail when snow restricts hiking at higher elevations, Benzer was impressed with the number of people from afar who’ve taken advantage of the three-kilometre route that reaches an elevation of 850 feet.
Branching off from Antenna Trail, hikers from across the world – including visitors from France, England and Italy – headed all the way up to Flag View Point Trail to sign in at the top.
“There are people coming from all over the region – right from Salmo through to Rossland – and then there are those coming from all over the world,” he said.
Starting at the trailhead at the north end of Fourth Street by the Montrose Baptist Church, the steep old road from residential Montrose turns into an interesting trail loop.
Hikers enjoy views of the Beaver Valley and Waneta as they wind around – even catching a bird’s-eye perspective of Pacific Coastal planes as they swoop down to the Trail Airport below.
Connecting to Flag View Point Trail, sites are just as impressive with a full view of the Rossland range, further highlighted in an 11-summit map mounted at the top.
While the Kootenay Columbia Trail Society looks after the trail, it is very much an effort by Beaver Valley community volunteers, who spend time cutting back trails and finding ways to put the historical trail on the map.
The old road that went up to the TV antenna at the top of the ridge, catching a signal from Red Mountain and bringing the first TV signal to Montrose, was developed for hikers by Koerber and a group of enthusiastic outdoorsmen, with help from the Montrose Youth Action team.
“I’ve hiked all of my life. You used to have to drive out of town to find some trails,” Benzer recalled.
“People used to hunt up on the hill for years, it was natural that the area developed into a hiking trail.”
Used year-round, the trail continues to be the centre of community events like Beaver Valley May Days and Montrose Family Fun Days, held in June.