The historic Mill Lake trail has recently been restored by volunteers from the Harrop-Procter Community Co-operative, opening up hiking access to a picturesque sub-alpine lake east of Nelson.
The outhouse and trapper’s cabin at the lake was destroyed in 2017 by wildfire that consumed over 2,000 hectares of sub-alpine forest. Designed by Joern Wingender, a new shelter will be completed in the fall.
In mid-July, assisted by BC Parks and a grant from the Regional District of Central Kootenay Recreation Commission, a helicopter transported an outhouse constructed by former BC Scout leader Jim Garth along with supplies donated by Harrop-Procter Forest Products and Nelson Home Hardware to the lake for construction of a new cook shelter. A BC Wildfire crew from the Kootenay Lake zone assisted in clearing the trail of numerous blow-downs, and volunteers from the community hiked in to meet the heli-delivery.
Co-ordinated by co-op board member Cecelia Hobson, the project is one of many undertaken by the HPCC to benefit the rural community. Founded in 1999, HPCC oversees both the Harrop-Procter sawmill and the community-owned forest license governing 11,000 hectares of forest.
The co-op strives to manage the forest surrounding Mill Lake and Mill and Procter Creeks to exceed Forest Stewardship Council standards. The eco-system based planning includes retention of canopy trees, small-patch logging and adaptation to climate change.
To access the moderately strenuous hike along the upper portion of the historic Mill Lake trail, exit the Harrop ferry, cross the railway tracks and follow the main road to East Harrop Main Line (just past the tree nursery). From there, drive 4.3 kilometres, take the right fork, and then stay right until the trailhead.
Hikers will be rewarded with a view of a sub-alpine forest in recovery from fire, with diverse species ranging from cedar and hemlock, to Douglas fir and lodgepole, and lush, post-fire vegetation.