Enter this summer’s Chill and Thrill Ten Trail Challenge, organized by Brent Purves, founder of the Chilliwack Hiking Club. The concept is simple. Step 1: Complete one of the ten hikes outlined on the challenge website. Step 2: Head to one of the nearby independent ice cream shops or craft breweries recommended under the link for each hike. Step 3: Rinse and repeat for all ten hikes.
“But I can have a beer after a hike without registering for this!” you might respond. True. But the fun of this challenge is the curated information and guidance you receive for each trail, the free ice cream gift card, and the knowledge that your registration fees support the Chilliwack Park Society, which maintains the region’s hiking trails. Plus, your completion of the hikes gets you entered for prize draws throughout the summer.
For me, the detailed information provided about each hike—including distance, specific directions, the quality of the trail, and features to look for—is itself worth the registration fee. I hadn’t heard of many of these hikes so, when the challenge was unlocked on June 18, it was like finding a treasure trove of BC outdoors experiences. And I’ll never say no to prizes and free ice cream!
This is not the first time Purves has organized a Chill and Thrill hiking challenge. The first one was in Summer 2021. After his years of running the Chilliwack Hiking Club, he wanted to find a new, fresh way to put his comprehensive knowledge of the Fraser Valley’s trails to use while still being covid-safe. His brainchild was the first Chill and Thrill, which simply challenged hikers to complete his curated list of ten trails in ten weeks. People loved it.
Given the success of the first challenge, Purves decided to launch a new one in the fall of 2021, this time with a coffee shop theme. After an autumn hike, participants would head to the nearest independent coffee shop for a warm drink. Two more challenges happened in winter and spring, both with great success. Acts of kindness and dog-friendly trails were the respective themes of these. According to Purves, the intent of these challenges is to inspire people to get outside and enjoy what BC has to offer while being able to connect with others, whether virtually or in person. Participants receive digital badges with each trail they complete plus a prize draw entry when they post the badge using #tentrailchallenge on social media.
This new challenge inspires participants with two summery treats: local beer and ice cream. Purves began with beer only, since it’s such a popular post-hike tipple, but decided to include ice cream for those who aren’t beer fans or don’t drink. The trails are organized by difficulty level. The first five are the easiest (the “chill” hikes), and the second five are more challenging (the “thrills”). Some of the most challenging hikes have alternative options to make them doable for more hesitant hikers, so there are actually choices beyond the ten trails. For example, if the Gloria trail is too much, you can do the 3 Bears instead.
Purves’ goal is to make BC’s outdoors accessible, safe, and approachable for more people. He’s not catering to hard-core, DIY hikers. He’s reaching out to those who may be newer to hiking, or perhaps who enjoy hiking but just don’t have the time to find the best trails and figure out whether they can fit them in. As he put it, “Real life doesn’t allow most people to be gone for 15 hours on Saturday.”
I certainly fall into that category. With a full-time job, a houseful of animals, and two kids, I can’t do a hike that requires my entire day—especially if I don’t know the trail. I also don’t have a lot of spare time to dig through different websites to find information about trails. The great thing about this summer’s Chill and Thrill is that it gives me everything I need to assess what hike I can do and when. Am I in the mood for an intense workout that will take a good half of the day? Harrison Grind it is. Do I just want to stroll with my kids and do some birdwatching? The Cheam Wetlands would be perfect.
To kick off the Summer 2022 Chill and Thrill Ten Trail Challenge, my friend Kate and I chose the Duck Farm Loop trail just outside of Yarrow. I had never heard of this trail, but it was a hidden gem, despite (or perhaps because of) being slightly overgrown and less maintained than more popular trails. Kate and I saw no one else during our nearly six-kilometre trek through fern-blanketed forests, steep narrow trails, and numerous creek crossings. Thanks to the detailed instructions provided on the Chill and Thrill site, we managed to avoid making any wrong turns and were able to enjoy the scenery with confidence, from the Fraser Valley views, to the waterfall halfway through the hike, to the beautiful (yes!) slugs and snails who greeted us from the trailside. Birdsong and silence were our only aural accompaniment. After we finished, I marked the trail as complete in my account on the website, received and posted my completion badge, and added the #tentrailchallenge hashtag to be entered into the prize draws (I’m keeping my fingers crossed!).
Since it was our first trail of the season, we felt we should try both an ice cream shop and a craft brewery following our hike. The Duck Farm Loop trail info on the Chill and Thrill website recommended Mighty Moose Ice Cream, Farmhouse Brewing, and Old Yale Brewing. Fortunately, Mighty Moose was only a two-minute drive from the trailhead. A single scoop on a waffle cone turned out to be more like a double scoop anywhere else, so I was nearly full when we left Mighty Moose for Old Yale Brewing, about ten minutes away by car. Fortunately, I had room for a pint of their excellent West Coast IPA, a style they have truly nailed down. Farmhouse wasn’t open, but it is on my list for my next post-hike excursion.
This challenge will help me plan my outdoor adventures this summer and give me the satisfaction of checking trail after trail off my list. I’m also happy to know that in registering for the challenge, participants are contributing financially to trail maintenance in the Chilliwack region. If you’re interested in joining me in completing ten trails this summer (and visiting some ice cream shops and breweries along the way), you can register HERE.
Remember to hashtag the challenge when you finish your hike, and tag the BC Ale Trail as you’re sipping on your beer afterwards! #ChillandThrill #BCAleTrail