The George’s Way Trails, in the Thornhill area of Maple Ridge, are horse trails of historical significance to the Maple Ridge community. In February 2019, the George’s Way Trails were awarded Heritage Status in the category of Heritage Landscape/Natural Heritage Resource by the Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission.
The George’s Way Trails are a pair of off-road woodland trails that can be found in the forested urban reserve on Thornhill Mountain between 256 Street and 264 Street, midway up the slope between 98 Avenue (south) and the 108 Street Alignment (north).
Nestled directly south of Kanaka Creek Regional Park, these trails offer easy access within our community for outdoor recreational activities.
For decades, equestrians and hikers have been traversing the George’s Way Trails as their only connection through the forest from the east trailheads of Bear Ridge Trail and Tower Trail at the bottom and top of 256 Street, respectively, to the south trailhead of Thornhill Trail on the 264 Street Road Allowance.
Named for George Fulton, who conceived it and started building it in the late 1960s, this pair of delightful undulating trails meet and separate and meet again as they wind through mixed stands of both deciduous and coniferous trees. On clear days, sunlight dapples the wider gravel sections of this woodland trail brushed on either side by huckleberry, salmonberry and wild blueberry, while some of the narrower, natural-footing sections under the denser tree canopy offer shady respite in the mossy carpet border to native ferns, bunchberry and trillium.
George Fulton began the trail development by repurposing an old logging road as the foundation for what would become the “Lower George’s Way” horse trail. Soon after, an alternate path for winter season riding was built that arched northward (called “Upper George’s Way”, but also known anecdotally as “George’s Highway”), as the surface of Lower George’s Way had some sections that became too wet and soft under the heavy winter rains. In 2002, during the refurbishment of a culvert at James Creek that required removal of the trail surface, the original skid road from the old logging days was found a few feet down, its timbers in remarkable shape having been preserved in the clay.
Maintenance of the George’s Way Trails was continued by George and Mary Fulton’s daughter, Pauline, along with other member-volunteers of the Ridge Riders (aka “Haney Horsemen Association” after 1980). This pair of trails are among those that the HHA registered with the District beginning in 1982, and trail stewardship of the George’s Way Trails by the HHA continues to this day.
A large part of the network was resurfaced in the 1990s during a volunteer-led work bee and the reopening celebration welcomed Pauline back, all the way from Ottawa, to ride the trail with the HHA.
Not just the horse community but all of Maple Ridge owes a debt of gratitude to the Fulton family for their foresight in recognizing the natural significance of this area and the timeless gift of this pair of beautiful trails.