Karen Cummins contributed this article to encourage you to visit the trees nominated for Tree of the Year 2020.
Our family loves to cycle and it is our usual mode of transport whenever possible. For viewing special trees in our community, cycling just seems to be the natural way not only to see the nominated trees but to have an adventure in our rich urban and rural forests. If we notice some areas with not so many trees, that is also part of our awareness.
A Google map (see below) is a great tool for laying out a cycle route. However, we would have made the following adjustments to the Google route using our local cycle and urban forest knowledge. We live in Comox so this route starts there. This would be a nice cycle outing for us. We would visit two of the nominated trees, the Garry oak on Denman Island and the Douglas fir off of Aldergrove Drive, as separate trips. These are great days for slow travel, delaying gratification and being on the path, and not just aiming for a destination!
The first location for us is just down the hill from Comox on Comox Road at the Regional District Pump Station just next door to the Kus-kus-sum site. The Saskatoon tree that was nominated there beside the pumping station driveway has blue flagging tape to help locate it beside a large Sitka spruce. This is a much taller Saskatoon than we would normally see.
Continuing north along Comox Road and the Old Island Highway we head next to Headquarters Road, following it to the Piercy Road connector. Just over the new bridge at the Tsolum River and after crossing Dove Creek Road, look north in a field for the large Douglas fir nominated there. The Onnes Farm is across the road to the south.
Continue on Piercy to Condensory Road and turn left to return to downtown Courtenay and 580 Duncan Avenue. Look for the pomegranate tree on the 6th Street side of the Comox Valley Art Gallery just across from the library.
Continue up 6th Street to McPhee and turn left to find 780 McPhee (Little Sparks Daycare) and the northern catalpa nominated there.
Heading down McPhee to the Train Station on Cumberland Road, you can get onto the Rotary Trail. Take the trail and enjoy this wild forest in the city as far as Bill Moore Park and the crossing to 21st Street. Going west on 21st you will reach Willemar Avenue and turn right to find 1805 Willemar and the Pacific dogwood nominated there.
Return the way you came to Bill Moore Park and take the path to the left that will wind through to Dogwood Drive. Go left at Dogwood which will lead to 19th Street. Continue east on 19th for an easy crossing of Cliffe Avenue. and take the Courtenay Riverway trail from there south to the Courtenay Airpark. Look for the Rotary Skypark Playground where it meets the Courtenay Riverway Heritage Walk path. There are three Garry oaks planted there and the nominated Garry oak has its own sign. This tree was planted by CVN and Frank Hovenden in 1995.
The Courtenay Riverway path continues south as far as Millard Road where you will have to head to the Island Highway to keep going south. Taking a left off the highway onto Chinook, you will be able to catch the Royston Seaside Trail all the way to Marine Drive. This will take you to Greig Avenue on your right. It is a yellow cedar at 3964 Greig that is the last nominated tree for our cycle day.
If you are feeling strong though, continue on to the ferry to Denman Island, have a leisurely cruise and pay very little for it because you are cycling. After leaving the ferry on Denman, stay on Denman Road to Lacon Road and turn right, following Lacon to Hinton where you turn right again. Hinton will take you to a beach where you hike north to the first cabin and next to it is the nominated Garry oak.
Perhaps you live at the north end of Courtenay and it is easy for you to incorporate the tree near Aldergrove Drive. Follow your favourite cycle route to get you to Coleman Road off of the Island Highway. At the east end of Coleman Road turn left onto Aldergrove Drive and go to the end and park. Take the first walking path to the left (not towards the beach), past the yellow gate and signs noting that you are entering Kitty Coleman Beach Park and this trail will lead to the large nominated Douglas fir. You can’t miss it as it makes all the other large trees look like toothpicks!
Have fun and cycle safe! Let us know about your adventure.