Manzanita Hut will officially open to the public on Sunday, June 12 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1:30 pm. The hut is located on Manzanita Bluffs in the Gwendoline Hills, north east of Lund.
The hut is a current initiative of the Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society (PRPAWS), which has already seen the construction of three other huts and one log cabin on the Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT), as well as improved trail marking and signage as part of the SCT enhancement project.
PRPAWS began clearing the site in December 2010, and then during the winter and spring of this year built the hut and made improvements on the trail. The society—in partnership with School District 47 and Powell River Model Community Project Society that are also building facilities on the SCT—received a grant from the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) that covered the cost of materials and transportation. Society members and other volunteers provided roughly 900 hours of labour.
Materials were flown in by helicopter from Lund, and volunteers hiked to and from work. Cement for the foundation was mixed on the bluffs. A generator provided electricity to run power tools.
The hut incorporates local cedar posts in its construction, as well as other native materials. It has two full walls with windows and two pony walls on the main floor. There is an L-shaped food preparation/cooking counter, which is covered by a metal top. A picnic table and a handful of benches complete the furnishings. A ladder leads up to the sleeping loft, which has standing room and space for eight, or more in a pinch. A bench is located at the gables that also have shuttered window openings. A trap door can be closed in the evenings enhancing a sense of comfort and security.
People can access Manzanita Hut via the SCT from the trailhead. To find the trailhead, drivers can follow the SCT markers down Malaspina Road. A guided hike, for those attending the opening, will leave from the trailhead at 10:30 am. For less experienced hikers there will be rides partway resulting in a much shorter hike of one kilometre. Even the shorter option requires some uphill hiking. Participants for the shorter hike meet at noon at Okeover Park.
For the full hike, people will pass majestic stands of old-growth Douglas fir and western red cedar, some of which are more than 500 years old. Two benches along the way invite hikers for a water break and a chance to absorb stunning views.
Hikers should carry rain gear, wear sturdy footwear, and have plenty of water to keep hydrated. Hiking sticks are useful as well. There will be a rest stop where people can quench their thirst, or ensure they have something with them to drink when they arrive at the hut. The organizers of the grand opening will have free hot dogs on the bluff.
PRPAWS has also received significant financial support from BC Hydro, Powell River Regional District and City of Powell River through Union of BC Municipalities funding, the ministry of forests, lands and natural resource operations, Tla’Amin Timber Products, Western Forest Products, as well as numerous individual donors.
The intent of the SCT enhancement project is to help diversify Powell River’s economy by drawing visitors to Powell River, plus to provide recreational opportunities for locals.