The Carmanah Valley was saved from the “logger’s saw” with the creation of the Carmanah Provincial Park in 1990. In 1995, the Walbran and upper Carmanah Valley was added to create the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park. The area contains a spectacular and diverse forest ecosystem. It now encompasses 16,450 hectares of coastal rain forest. It is highly recommended you visit the carmanah in the summer as it can be very wet in the other seasons.
One of the park’s main attractions is its spectacular spruce groves which attain a biomass (weight of plants per hectare) of nearly twice that of a tropical rain forest. These enormous sitka spruce attain heights of over 95 meters-some of the world’s largest-and live for more than 800 years. Cedars in the park have been estimated to be more than 1,000 years old. That means they were about 500 years old when Magellan first circumnavigated the globe!
How to get there:
Access to the Carmanah Valley is by logging roads via the Caycuse River Bridge. From Port Alberni use South Main to reach the Caycuse River Bridge. From Lake Cowichan take South Shore Road (or North Shore Road) to Nitnat Main. Follow Nitnat Main and turn left at the junction with South Main and proceed to the Caycuse River Bridge. At the Caycuse River Bridge it is about 29 kilometres down Rosander Main to the park. Blue signs mark the route towards the Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park. Please take the time to read our information on how to drive on logging roads safely. The last 40 kilometers to the park can be very rough and is mountainous but has spectacular views of Nitnat Lake. It should take you about 2.5 hours to reach the park from Lake Cowichan good conditions. More detailed driving instructions are available in from BC Parks’ website and in BC Parks’ Carmanah Walbran pamphlet.
What to do when you get there:
In the parking lot is a notice board that has weather forecasts, trail conditions and other camping information. Advisories about possible dangerous wildlife are posted here. Potable drinking water and toilets are next to the trail into the carmanah. To the left up a hill is the park ranger headquarters. From your vehicle it is about a 10-15 minute hike to the developed campsites and the trail to deep within the Carmanah. This trail is steep but well maintained. At the bottom, a boardwalk runs along the creek in both directions in an area with little undergrowth. Farther on the trail becomes a small path. Feel free to wander off the boardwalk onto the sandbars and marvel at the clean crisp water that flows by. The sandbars are an excellent place to pitch a tent.
Carmanah Valley Trails:
From the developed campsites it is a 30 minute hike to the junction with the trail along carmanah creek. Sections of the trail upstream can be very muddy and difficult. Downstream the trail is mostly on boardwalks and quite easy to hike.
The following hiking times are approximate and with good trail conditions:
|Points Upstream (from Junction)||km||Time|
|Three Sisters||2.5||40 min|
|Grunt’s Grove||4.0||1 1/4 hrs|
|Paradise Pool||5.5||2 hrs|
|August Creek||7.5||3 1/2 hrs|
|Points Downstream (from Junction)||km||Time|
|Heaven Tree||2.0||30 min|
|Fallen Giant||2.3||45 min|
|Heaven Grove||2.6||50 min|
Access to the West Coast Trail is currently closed.
There are no BC Parks facilities in the lower Walbran area. Access is strongly discouraged because of potentially unsafe conditions. There are some trails and wilderness campsite in the west Walbran. The management plan for the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park is under review and therefore all trail locations, campsites and noted features are “unofficial” and subject to change.
For Additional Information and Trail Conditions:
BC Parks – http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/index.html
South Vancouver Island District
2930 Trans Canada Highway
Victoria BC V9B 6H6
Telephone: (250) 391-2300