Vancouver Island Hiking
Exploring the Island’s Spectacular Scene-Scapes
Vancouver Island is well known to hikers who travel from all over the globe to enjoy the island’s natural beauty and array of hiking trails, ancient rainforests, and west coast beaches. Home to 20 parks, including several provincial and regional parks, each with its own network of hiking trails, scenic outlooks, centuries-old trees, and local wildlife, Vancouver Island’s Parksville community and surrounding region are certainly a huge part of that draw.
Where to Start
Start your explorations right away, mere steps from your luxurious Parksville accommodations at Sunrise Ridge Resort. We’re situated on 10.2 scenic acres above Craig Bay, within a short walk of Parksville’s endless beaches.
When you’ve finished exploring around the resort, Pacific Rainforest Adventure Tours offers guided nature and hiking tours in and around Parksville with experienced and knowledgeable guides.
For those who wish to explore on their own, pocket-size Regional Parks & Trails Guides are available from the Visitor Centre, with descriptions and maps of 16 different parks and trails in the regional district.
- Cathedral Grove: internationally known for its towering Douglas firs.
- Notch Hill: short forested trail in Nanoose Bay with panoramic outlooks.
- Mt. Wesley Traverse: loop from either end of Cameron Lake over Mt. Wesley and Wesley Ridge; shorter hike available from McBey Creek to the radio tower on Wesley Ridge. Only the eastern portion of the trail is well-marked.
- Log Train Trail: year-round hiking & cycling trail through the forests of Alberni Valley to McLean Mill National Historic Site. Begin at the Visitor Info Centre in Port Alberni.
- Englishman River Estuary: includes the Parksville Flats wetlands, spectacular Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, and Top Bridge Trail.
- Little Qualicum Falls: easy hike to a beautiful cascading waterfall.
- Rosewall Provincial Park: one hour hike along the creek to a small waterfall & picnic area.
- Cowichan River Footpath: picturesque trail stretching 20 km from just west of Duncan to Skutz Falls. Easy to intermediate; good year round.
- Mt. Arrowsmith Park: variety of moderate to difficult hiking routes – ask about access at the Visitor Centre. Scenery is spectacular.
- Little Mountain: spectacular outlook, with access from the end of Errington Road.
- Strathcona Provincial Park: 2 – 2 ½ hour drive from Parksville, features snow-capped peaks, alpine meadows, and Canada’s highest waterfall. Park caters to all hiking abilities. Expect snowfall on the slopes November to March.
- Mount Washington: several trails for all levels, including: West Summit Ridge and Giv’r Trails (advanced), Top of the World and Linton’s Trails (intermediate), and Lodge Trails and Memory Lane (easy). Trails open once the snow melts, usually by late June. Some trails can be accessed via chairlift.
- Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park: large sandy beach and 5 km of hiking trails, many of which are wheelchair friendly. Water line recedes almost 1 km from shore during low tide.
- Community Beach Park: fine white sand beach with a low tide line, revealing tide pools and shells. Perfect for beachcomber hiking in Parksville.
- Spider Lake Provincial Park: 65 hectare wilderness park with a fresh water lake, sandy beach, and two day use areas connected by a dirt hiking trail in the park.
- Fairwinds Golf Club Development: network of easy recreational trails in Nanoose Bay looping past Schooner Cove & Dolphin Lake.
- Wild Pacific Trail: approximately 2 hours away from Parksville in Ucluelet. Offers two hiking sections – an easy 2.5 km loop and a more difficult section that traces the shoreline for almost 5 km. Easy to intermediate; good year round (though dress for winter’s storm watching season).
- Beachcomber Regional Park: in Nanoose Bay; renowned for its tidal pools.
Horne Lake Caves: numerous caves and caverns. Guided and self-guided tours available, though proper gear and safety precautions are advised.
Vancouver Island Hiking Safety Tips
- Bring proper rain and safety gear
- Wear good footwear
- Don’t approach or feed wildlife
- Weather can change quickly in the mountains, so dress in layers
- At higher elevations, snow and mud can linger on trails, even in summer
- Sections of some coastal trails may be impassable at high tide – check tide charts before you go