Vancouver Island Trails and Information Society president

Vancouver Island Trails and Information Society president

Hiking guides going strong after 40 years

What began as a 32-page booklet typed on a manual typewriter and illustrated by hand has evolved into a series of books

What began as a 32-page booklet typed on a manual typewriter and illustrated by hand has evolved into a series of books that have sold more than 100,000 copies and continue to fund environmental initiatives.

In October 1972, the non-profit Vancouver Island Trails Information Society sold their first hiking guide, Hiking Trails I: Victoria and Vicinity, for $1 per booklet. It was reprinted by Christmas, setting sales records at downtown Victoria’s Eatons.

Over the last 40 years the non-profit society has sold more than 100,000 copies with proceeds supporting trail creation, maintenance, mapping and other environmental initiatives through organizations such as the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary and The Vancouver Island Spine Association. The society also provides scholarships to four post secondary institutions.

To stay current for younger readers after 32 print editions, this year the society will become the first in Western Canada to publish e-versions of their hiking guides.

While the Capital Regional District has a very good trail system, there is room for some small improvements locally, said Eric Burkle, president of the society, which was first founded by members of the Outdoor Club of Victoria. New trails are in the works near the Sooke Potholes area.

“The concern has been access to existing trails,” Burkle noted. “We’ve lost access, because the timber companies have become concerned with liabilities. Specifically, within the Cowichan Valley.”

The hiking guides cover the Greater Victoria area, south central Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands and northern Vancouver Island and are available in most local book and outdoor stores or online at hikingtrailsbooks.com.

A display showcasing the incarnations of the guides will be at the Nellie McClung library in August, Emily Carr in September and the Esquimalt branch in October.

nnorth@saanichnews.com