Vancouver Island Trails Information Society
Vancouver Island Trails Information Society

Travel on Private Land

Published Mon, Mar 8th, 2010

Travel on Private Logging Company, Tree Farm Licence and Other Forest Roads: Our Hiking Trails books do not normally advocate travel on private lands. If one wants to do so one naturally must seek permission and follow the rules of the landowner. Many traditional destinations have recently become less accessible due to new regulations laid down by some of the forest companies on private lands. Roads now are blocked by locked gates but sometimes it is difficult to identify and locate the landowner. Where known, the hiker should plan ahead by consulting the relevant company websites for information, visiting their offices or telephoning.  Some work sites are more receptive to public inquires while others may be too busy to volunteer to be helpful. Be polite but persistent. 

In some cases, membership in an organization, such as the Federation of BC Mountain Clubs, may assist with access, particularly when the trip is an organized one. Trip leaders should bear this in mind when inquiring. This may help meet requirements such as liability insurance if this is needed. It behooves hikers to cooperate by reporting fires and suspected vandalism: license numbers may prove useful. 

Be sure to check with the VITIS website where we try to include updates to trails and access where this information has been made available to us. But this site is only as good as hikers (or companies or organizations) make it by providing us with information. We'll load such information onto the site usually hours after we receive it via our website. 

Private logging companies claim to consider safety to be of paramount concern, but are also concerned with fires and vandalism. These are the main reason for their rules. Naturally, profits are of concern to shareholder driven companies. Rules of the road on private lands are similar to those on public lands except perhaps that in the former case they apply to a greater degree. Western Forest Products (WFP) has a general open road policy and with the usual precautions tends to welcome the public. Unfortunately some of the other major companies are more protective of their holdings and the utmost care should be taken to ensure there are no excuses for them to regret permitting public access.   WFP has provided the following information, most of which also applies to most forest roads.

Trucks on large operations, particularly on private roads, are often radio controlled, but there are many variations of this so scanners cannot be relied upon. On private roads, at least, truck drivers will assume that all vehicles travelling on them are radio equipped.   Gravel roads can be slippery and treacherous, particularly under adverse weather conditions, and to drivers unfamiliar with them. Drive slowly at all times; maximum speed on WFP roads currently is 60 km and most roads are speed controlled as posted. Deactivated roads may be trenched but not well marked. Many accidents on forest roads are between public vehicles, not with experienced company drivers. Yield at all times to working vehicles; be prepared to pull over and stop. Travel with lights on. Pullouts may only hold one vehicle; watch for work vehicles travelling in groups. Some logging trucks are much wider than those designed for public roads and are much longer so passing on corners and bridges can be extremely hazardous. The logs at the end of a load may destroy cars parked or pulled over at corners. Logging trucks may weigh as much a 135 tons and cannot stop easily.

Vancouver Island Trails Information Society