Hikes & Walks in Parksville & Qualicum Beach
As a city that is attracting young, energetic and health conscious young people, it comes as no surprise that Nanaimo boasts a 130-kilometre-long trail network enjoyed by walkers, joggers, cyclists and in-line skaters of all fitness abilities. The longest of the routes is the 20-kilometre paved multi-use Parkway Trail, which shadows the Highway 19 bypass route.
If you're looking for a walk more than a hike, Harbourside Walkway in Nanaimo is a four-kilometre route between the diminutive Harbour Park Mall downtown and the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal to the north. Self-guided signs near the Millstone River Estuary point out such fascinating tidbits as the barnacles, mussels, sea stars and crabs visible at low tide and the Chum and Coho salmon that gather at the mouth of the river every October, waiting to spawn. The Walkway is a great place to take in the views and people watch.
Also in Nanaimo, Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park has more than 15 kilometres of well-marked interpretive trails that travel through shady forests, historic sites and around a lake. Colliery Dam Park has trails to the upper and lower lakes and other popular destinations include Neck Point Park, Ammonite Falls, and the Benson Creek Trail.
From Rathtrevor Beach, a trail for hikers and bikers leads to Top Bridge Park five kilometres away on the Englishman River. Other good places for hiking near Parksville and Qualicum Beach include Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, Horne Lake Regional Park and Cathedral Grove in the MacMillan Provincial Park. Nearby Mt. Arrowsmith Regional Park has beautiful summer hiking; these mountain trails demand good physical fitness and hiking/map-reading knowledge.
Those seeking a more relaxed walk can follow chip trails that wind through forest from the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, hooking up to the waterfront promenade for a circular tour of the village. There’s also the Heritage Forest, which entices with trails through more than 50 acres of old-growth forest just minutes from downtown. Enjoy the quiet solitude of this lush coastal forest jewel.
by Lawrence Herzog