Test Your Nerves on BC’s Stunning Suspension Bridges

Suspension bridges, they’re polarizing; you love them or hate them. Visitors seem to either hop joyously along their span – encouraging walkways to bounce about – while others make haste across them. With such varied terrain and rivers spanning the province, suspension bridges are often built out of sheer necessity. Gorges that simply can not be traversed with alternative designs see these graceful arcs drawn across two anchors. Here we recount some of our favourite B.C. suspension bridges, from past to present. Some early ones have since been demolished, others zip us across the creeks of epic wilderness pursuits, and iconic ones are part of our daily commute. Oh, and at least one on this list has collapsed…Enjoy!

Alexandra Bridge (Trutch’s)

Credit: Vancouver Public Library Special Collections Historical Photographs

Location: Spuzzum

Date erected: 1863

Status: Removed in 1912, replaced by the Second Alexandra

Main span: 82 metres (269 feet)

History: The bridge was originally constructed in 1861 by Joseph Trutch, who worked as the Commissioner of Public Works for the Colony of British Columbia. The bridge was part of the Cariboo Road development. Royal Engineers rebuilt the bridge as the road construction progressed, and a new span opened in 1863. It had fallen into disuse by 1884 and in 1904, most of the bridge was destroyed in a flood. The remains were dismantled in 1912.

Use: Vehicular

Main cables: Wire/iron

Read more about this bridge: historicplaces.ca

Alexandra Bridge (Second)

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterisnuksa/

Location: Spuzzum

Date erected: 1926

Status: In use, but now restricted to foot traffic

Span: 82 metres (270 feet)

History: This bridge is still in use today, but in 1964 the government reduced its use to foot traffic only.

Use: Vehicular, one lane

Main cables: Wire/steel

Read more about this bridge: gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/alexandra/

Footbridge

Location: Near Ryan, over the Moyie River (54 km south of Cranbrook)

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

History: Unknown

Use: Footbridge

Main cables: Wire

Main span: 1

Hagwilget Bridge

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos/

Location: Hagwilget Canyon on the Bulkley River (near New Hazelton)

Date erected: 1912

Status: This bridge was replaced in 1931, and the replacement bridge is still open today.

Span: 140 metres (451 feet)

History: The current bridge spans the same location as the original, and it was reinforced again in 1990. It sits 80 metres above the Bulkley River.

Use: Vehicular, one lane

Main cables: Wire/steel

Suspended span: 1

Deck width: 4.9 metres

Read more about this bridge: rdks.bc.ca/hagwilget-bridge

Murray River

Location: Monkman Provincial Park, south of Tumbler Ridge

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

History: The suspension bridge allows hikers walking the Monkman Lake Trail to cross the Murray River and continue their adventures into the park’s interior.

Use: Footbridge

Read more about Monkman Provincial Park and this bridge: Click here

Brilliant Suspension Bridge

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21953562@N07/

Location: Castlegar area, just upstream from the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers

Date erected: 1913

Status: Derelict

Span: 100 metres (331 feet)

History: The bridge was originally used to connect Brilliant, the business and industrial hub of a recently established Doukhobor community, with its agricultural property and other villages on the other side. Although a Vancouver firm oversaw the design and construction, the bridge itself was built by Doukhobor working crews using traditional hand tools and techniques. The Doukhobor community paid for two-thirds of the bridge, with the provincial government contributing the rest. The bridge was closed in the late 1960s, when it was replaced by a more modern version. The Brilliant Suspension Bridge recently received its status as a Canadian National Heritage Site.

Use: Vehicular, one lane

Main cables: Wire/steel

Deck width: 4.8 metres (16 feet)

Read more about historic Brilliant Bridge: usccdoukhobors.org/brilliantbridge

Haslam Creek

Location: Nanaimo area

Date erected: 2002

Status: In use

History: As part of the Trans Canada Trail, this suspension bridge allows hikers to cross over Haslam Creek. A final bridge to cross over the Nanaimo River is still under construction.

Use: Footbridge

Read more about the bridge and trail here: Click here

Churn Creek Bridge

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tjflex/

Location: Gang Ranch (West Chilcotin – two hours drive from Williams Lake)

Date erected: 1914

Status: In use, last checked in 2006

History: The Churn Creek bridge runs over the Fraser River and is located on Gang Ranch, a working ranch that was established in the early 1860s. At its peak, Gang Ranch was as large as four million acres, including leased lands. At the time, it was largest working cattle ranch in BC. There is a public road that runs through the property and across the bridge now, but the ranch is still in full operation.

Use: Vehicular, one lane

Main cables: Wire/steel

Read more about this bridge: Click here

The Old Bridge

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodhead/

Location: Lillooet

Date erected: 1911-1913

Status: Extant

Span: Approx 120 metres (400 feet)

History: The Old Bridge was built to replace a reaction ferry – a type of cable ferry that was powered by the river current. This type of transportation across the river had been in use since 1860.

Use: Vehicular, one lane

Main cables: Wire/steel

Read more about this bridge: Click here

Birkenhead River

Location: Pemberton area

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

History: The suspension bridge is located just past Mt. Currie and spans the Birkenhead River.

Use: Footbridge

Lions Gate

Credit: Jennifer Lee Gunson

Location: Vancouver

Date erected: 1939

Status: In use

Span: 473 metres (1,550 feet)

History: The Lions Gate Bridge crosses the first narrows of Burrard Inlet and connects the city of Vancouver to North and West Vancouver. Northbound traffic on the bridge gets a good view of The Lions, a pair of mountain peaks north of the city – this is where the name “Lions Gate” comes from. The bridge was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in March 2005.

Use: Vehicular, major highway (3 lane)

Main cables: Wire/steel

Suspended span: 3

Read more about the Lion’s Gate Bridge: Click here

Kelowna Mountain Vineyards & Bridges

Location: Kelowna

Date erected: Park purchased and developed in 2003

Status: In use

History: The Kelowna Mountain Vineyards & Bridges is a privately owned park and four suspension bridges cross over the vineyards. One of these bridges is the longest in North America.

Use: Footbridge

Span: The Earth Bridge spans 400 feet; the Sun Bridge sits 100 feet over an ice wine vineyard; the Water Bridge is 800 feet long; the Vine Bridge finishes at a koi fish pond and outdoor amphitheatre.

Top Bridge Trail

Location: Parksville, over the Englishman River

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

Span: 81 metres (265 feet)

History: This suspension bridge was erected along the Top Bridge Trail, as a way for visitors to cross over the Englishman River gorge and continue touring the area. This is considered one of Parksville’s secret gems.

Use: Footbridge

Read more about this bridge: Click here

Peace River Bridge

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/arthurtlabar/

Location: Taylor

Date erected: 1943

Status: Demolished

Span: 609 metres (2,000 feet)

History: The Peace River Suspension Bridge was opened in 1943 and collapsed on Oct. 16, 1957. There were no injuries or fatalities that occurred as part of the collapse. When the bridge opened, it was the longest bridge on the Alaska Highway. The Peace River Bridge has since replaced this suspension bridge.

Use: Vehicular

Main cables: Wire/steel

Suspended span: 3

Read more about the collapse: Click here

Loss Creek

Location: Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, over Loss Creel

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

History: There are a few suspension bridges along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. The trail stretches 47 kilometres along Vancouver Island’s western coast.

Use: Footbridge

Lower Liard River

Credit: “Liard River Bridge, BC” by JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Location: Near the Liard River Hot Springs, along the Alaska Highway

Date erected: 1943

Status: In use, heavy

Span: 307 metres (1,007 feet)

History: The Lower Liard River Suspension Bridge is the only suspension bridge along the Alaska Highway. At the time of construction, engineers decided to build a suspension bridge because ice conditions made it impossible to keep the temporary scaffolding in place for a long enough period of time to complete a traditional truss span design.

Use: Vehicular, two lanes

Main cables: Wire/steel

Suspended span: 3

Read more about this bridge: ouralaskahighway.com/lower-liard-river-bridge

Sheep Creek Bridge

Location: Williams Lake area

Date erected: Unknown

Status: Removed

History: Where the Sheep Creek Bridge now resides, there used to be a suspension bridge instead.

Use: Vehicular, one lane

Main cables: Wire/steel

Suspension bridge at Bella Coola

Credit: Bella Coola Valley Museum – Photograph Collection

Location: Bella Coola

Date erected: 1932

Status: Removed

History: This small suspension bridge is accessed along Burnt Bridge Creek. The original 1932 bridge was removed and replaced with a newer suspension bridge in 1957.

Use: Foot traffic

Main cables: Wire

Read more about this bridge: Click here

Hudson’s Hope Suspension Bridge

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tranbc/

Location: Hudson’s Hope

Date erected: 1965

Status: In use

Span: 220 metres (721 feet)

History: Highway 29 crosses the Peace River via the Hudson’s Hope Suspension Bridge.

Use: Vehicular, two-lane heavy traffic

Main cables: Wire/steel

Suspended span: 1

Read more about this bridge: Click here

Koksilah River

Location: Cowichan Station, Bright Angel Provincial Park

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

History: Bright Angel Provincial Park is 4.13 hectares of land that was donated to the government by Jack and Mabel Fleetwood. Jack strongly believed in guardian angels, and the park was named after that ideal. The suspension bridge was constructed over the Koksilah River.

Use: Footbridge

Main cables: Wire/steel

Gitwinksihlkw

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thepha/

Location: Gitwinksihlkw (Canyon City, 105 km north of Terrace)

Date erected: 1968

Status: In use

Span: 339 feet

History: The Nisga’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw has had a suspension bridge over the Nass River for more than 400 years. The current bridge is over a metre wide, and although there is a traditional road bridge into the village, the suspension bridge has been fully restored and serves as a tourist destination for locals and visitors crossing the Nass River.

Use: Footbridge

Main cables: Wire/steel

Suspended span: 1

Read more about this bridge: nisgaanation.ca/suspension-bridge

Cheewhat River

Location: West Coast Trail

Date erected: 1976

Status: In use

History: This wooden suspension bridge is a highlight for hikers taking on the West Coast Trail.

Use: Footbridge

Main cables: Wire

Suspended span: 1

Similkameen Ore Conveyor Bridge

Location: Princeton

Date erected: 1980

Status: In use

Span: 403 metres (1,325 feet)

History: The highest bridge ever built in Canada, standing at 570 feet, the Similkameen Ore Conveyor was erected as part of the Similco copper mining company just outside Princeton. As much as 1,600 tons of ore can cross the conveyor in an hour.

Use: Conveyor

Main cables: Wire/steel

Read more about this bridge: Click here

Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kylewlane/

Location: Castlegar

Date erected: 1984

Status: In use

Main span: 91 metres (300 feet)

History: Built in the Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park, the suspension bridge was developed as a field exercise for the 44th Field Engineering Squadron and was allowed to remain as a connection to the island. The bridge won the Canadian Militia Herztberg Award and all of the materials to build the bridge were donated.

Use: Footbridge

Main cables: Wire/steel

Suspended span: 1

Deck width: 1 metre (3 feet)

Read more about Zuckerberg Island: stationmuseum.ca/zuckerberg

Hanging bridge over Tsocowis Creek

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ndanger/

Location: Tsocowis Creek, West Coast Trail

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

History: Constructed as part of the West Coast Trail. Online reports say the bridge is a neat feature of the trail, but climbing up the ladders to get on and off the bridge is a bit scary.

Use: Footbridge

Main cables: Wire

Elk Falls Suspension Bridge

Credit: Tourism Campbell River

Location: Campbell River area, over Elk Falls Canyon

Date erected: Opened May 2015

Status: In use

Span: 64 metres (209 feet)

History: The bridge was a joint project between BC Parks, BC Hydro, the Campbell River Rotary Club, the local government and the BC government as a way to get more visitors to Elk Falls and make the park accessible for more people.

Use: Footbridge

Read more about this bridge: gocampbellriver.com/elk-falls-suspension-bridge

Footbridge

Location: West Creston area, along the Dewdney Trail

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

History: The suspension bridge was constructed as a way for hikers to get over Summit Creek, while taking the Dewdney Trail.

Use: Footbridge

Read more about Dewdney Trail: Click here

Crazy Creek Waterfalls Bridge

Location: West of Revelstoke

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

Span: 73 metres (240 feet)

History: This suspension bridge was built in front of the Crazy Creek waterfalls for optimum viewing opportunities. There are also boardwalks and viewing platforms for the falls.

Use: Footbridge

Read more about this bridge: Click here

Malakwa Suspension Bridge

https://www.flickr.com/photos/urbanworkbench/

Location: Revelstoke

Date erected: 1915

Status: In use

History: The bridge was built as a way for farmers to cross Eagle River to the nearest community and school. It was rebuilt in 1940.

Use: Footbridge

Read more about this bridge: Click here

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/maryandjc/

Location: North Vancouver

Date erected: 1889

Status: In use

Span: 137 metres (450 feet)

History: The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a popular attraction in Vancouver, taking visitors through the west coast rainforest. The bridge runs 230 feet above the Capilano River.

Use: Footbridge

Read more about this bridge: capbridge.com

Paint Pots Bridge

Location: Kootenay National Park, over Vermillion River

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

History: The original bridge was lost in a flood in 2012. The government installed this bridge as a means for visitors to access the rest of the park and hiking areas.

Use: Footbridge

Main cables: Wire

Hells Gate Suspension Bridge

Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/narrowfocus/

Location: 10 km south of Boston Bar

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

Span: 82 metres (270 feet)

History: The suspension bridge was built as a way for tourists to cross the Hells Gate gorge, which is the narrowest point of the Fraser River. At high water, over 200 million gallons of water flow through the gorge per minute.

Use: Footbridge

Main cables: Wire/steel

Suspended span: 1

Read more about this bridge: Click here

Menzies Creek Swinging Bridge

Location: Campbell River area

Date erected: New bridge put up in 2014

Status: In use

History: The bridge is part of the Ripple Rock Trail and crosses Menzies Creek. It was replaced in 2014 and the trail was resurfaced.

Use: Footbridge

Main cables: Wire/steel

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Location: Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver

Date erected: 1912

Status: In use

Span: 40 metres (131 feet)

History: This 50-metre-high bridge stretches across Lynn Canyon’s raging waters, waterfalls and pools. The bridge is a popular destination, but it can be nerve-wracking to cross!

Use: Footbridge

Website: lynncanyon.ca/tour/suspension-bridge

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver

Logan Creek

Location: West Coast Trail

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

Span: 100 metres (328 feet)

History: The suspension bridge crossing Logan Creek is part of the West Coast Trail – one of the more rugged parts. According to hiker testimonial online, the suspension bridge (and the ladder to get down to it) is not for the faint of heart.

Use: Footbridge

Yukon Suspension Bridge

Location: South Klondike Highway, northern BC, White Pass summit

Date erected: 2006

Status: In use

Span: 60 metres (200 feet)

History: The bridge crosses over the Tutshi River and canyon and serves as an amazing look out point to the surrounding area.

Use: Footbridge

Read more about this bridge: Click here

Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge

Credit: (c) Nicole Gurney Photography via seatoskygondola.com

Location: Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish

Date erected: 2013

Status: In use

Main span: 110 metres (360 feet)

History: The suspension bridge was created as part of the Sea to Sky Gondola project near Squamish. The bridge will link parts of the project together and will give tourists a 360-degree view of Howe Sound.

Use: Footbridge

Website: seatoskygondola.com/suspension-bridge

Metlakatla Wilderness Trail Bridges

British Columbia Magazine

Location: Village of Metlakatla, Prince Rupert area (trailhead)

Date erected: Unknown

Status: Three engineered suspension bridges currently used by hikers

History: This trail has a short history as it was only opened in 2012. A community collaboration between multiple partners. The bridges were designed by John Helston who has designed comparable walkways in Nigerian mangroves habitats.

Use: Footbridge

Read more about this wilderness trail: trailpeak.com/trail-Metlakatla-Wilderness-Trail

Cal-Cheak

Location: Sea to Sky Trail, Brandywine Falls to Cheakamus

Date erected: Unknown

Status: In use

History: This suspension bridge was erected as part of the Sea to Sky Trail system. The bridge crosses Cheakamus River.

Use: Footbridge

Do you have a favourite B.C. suspension bridge?
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Michaela Ludwig

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