Honeymoon Bay Ecological Reserve

Access:

Wild Flower ReserveThe Honeymoon Bay Ecological Reserve (formerly named the Honeymoon Bay Wildflower Reserve and the Sutton Creek Wild Flower Reserve) is located on South Shore Road about 2.5 km west of Honeymoon Bay village. Keep left when road divides at Walton Road and go past March Meadows Golf Course. The reserve is on the left. Park on the roadside and walk in.

Description:

The Honeymoon Bay Ecological Reserve, visited by people from across Canada each spring, is noted for its unique and spectacular density of the rare pink fawn lily.

The 6.07 hectare (l5 acres) reserve, owned by Western Forest Industries, is assured the protection in perpetuity of the largest known concentration of pink fawn lilies (Erythronium revolutum) in B.C. It prefers alluvial sites in moderately open woodland with a mild, moist climate. Two dozen species of other wild flowers are also represented there.

On April l5th, l983, the Reserve was officially handed over to the National Second Century Fund of B.C., a nonprofit charitable trust which protects areas and species of ecological interest in the province for the benefit of the people in B.C. About 80 people braved a steady drizzle at the official ceremony.

The National Second Century Fund has offered the 99 year lease of the Reserve to the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing at a cost of $l.00, providing the area with ecological reserve status and comes under the management of the ecological reserve unit of the Land Ministry.

Flowers you will find are:[cryout-multi][cryout-column width=”1/3″]Western Spring Beauty
Trillium
Yellow Arum
Yellow Woods Violet
False Lily-of-the-Valley
Coltsfoot
Wild Bleeding Heart

[/cryout-column][cryout-column width=”1/3″]Columbine
Star Flower
False Soloman’s Seal
Twisted Stalk
Star flowered Solomons Seal
Large Flowered Fairy Bell
Toothwort
Meadow Rue
[/cryout-column][cryout-column width=”1/3″]Vanilla Leaf
Enchanter’s Night Shade
Baneberry
Small flowered Buttercup
Cow Parsnip
False Hellebore
Red Huckleberry

[/cryout-column]
[/cryout-multi]

Bald Mountain

Access:
Travelling west, the best approach from Highway 18 is to drive into the Town of Lake Cowichan, turn right onto North Shore Road, and fork left onto Meade Creek Road. After crossing two little bridges, just past a trailer court, make a left turn on to the Marble Bay Road. Continue along a winding road until you come to a sign “University Property”. To the right is a locked yellow gate, maintained by the Scout/Guide Camp Committee. Near this gate is a parking area for hikers. Please leave the roadways clear. The camp or trail head is about 0.8 km from the gate. It is about 6 km from the centre of the town of Lake Cowichan to the Scout gate.

Note: Hiking on Bald Mountain is being actively discouraged by the company which owns Bald Mountain Block 117. Access will likely be reopened once they are finished logging.

Trails:
The trails are all marked with suggested times. They have all been brushed and upgraded. Please bring your garbage out with you. Stay on the trails and do not cut across the switchbacks. Please respect the property. Have a nice hike!

bald_mountain

Click on map for full size

Bald Mountain (in the center)

#1 Cub Run: From the parking lot, follow the sign. It is approximately a 10 minute walk to the Old Wolf’s Hill and another 10 minutes to the top where you will have an excellent view of the Camp, the Lake and the Forest Research Station.

#2 Beaver Walk: From the parking lot, follow the Denniger Scout trail for approximately 5 minutes, then turn left at the sign and follow the trail along the lake. Along the way will be places to stop and rest and to see the view. After walking for about an hour there will be a trail off to your right which will be the Venturer’s Challenge. This trail takes you to the Saddle of Bald Mountain and is very steep. If you wish to go all the way to the Marine Park, it is approximately 1 1/2 hours one way.

#3 Denniger Scout Trail: Starts at the parking lot and proceeds in a westerley direction. It is approximately 1 1/2 hours to the Saddle of Bald Mountain. Along the way there are 9 switchbacks. After these if you look to the right you will be able to see the Satellite Earth Station. As you carry on further along the north side of the mountain, you will have several views of the North Arm and Youbou. At the Saddle you will get your first glimpse of the South Arm, the Forest Research Station and Honeymoon Bay. From here you can drop down to the lake, a steep incline, the Venturer’s Challenge and take the Beaver Walk back to the Camp (approximately another 1 1/2 hours) or you can carry on up to the top of Bald Mountain (another 45 minutes) Along the way is a trail off to the right to a fresh water spring. At the top you will see the remains of the site of the old Forestry Lookout Tower and the surrounding area. In amongst the rocks from the saddle to the top you will find wild Creeping Phlox and at the top Wild Onion.

From the top you can either go back the way you came or continue on down the ridge of the mountain to the Marine Park. This is a steep incline and will take about another 1 hours with lost of views of the upper lake and the South Arm. From the Marine Park, along the lake, it will take another 1 1/2 hours of hiking back to the parking lot.

Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park

Carmanah Walbran Provincial ParkThe 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.

Carmanah Creek

Carmanah Creek

End of the Parking Lot

End of the Parking Lot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walbran Valley:
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

Logging Road Tips

Timberwest (a local forest company) has published these rules for using logging roads.

We would like you to have a safe and enjoyable trip and ask that you please read and follow the advice below:

  • If you are entering an active logging area. PLEASE DRIVE WITH YOUR LIGHTS ON.
  • Gravel roads are slippery and your stopping time is greatly increased.
  • Dust is a problem during our dry months and visibility is very poor. Please reduce speed accordingly.
  • Please give logging trucks the right-of-way, due to their size they require a major portion of the road. When you meet a truck, please pull over and stop until they pass.
  • Expect the unexpected. You may meet a logging truck or some wildlife around any corner.
  • Please pull over and allow trucks to pass if they catch up to you. Allow dust to clear then proceed.

Thank you for your co-operation.

TimberWest Forest Limited. [revised by Matthew Bystedt]

Also, if you are traveling out beyond Cowichan Lake take a spare tire and ensure that it has sufficient air pressure. Cell phone coverage is poor once you leave the lake area. It would be wise to get a good recreational map which shows the logging roads as well. These are avialable from most camping and hunting supply stores in the region.

Cowichan River Footpath

Marie CanyonThe Cowichan River Footpath connects all the river’s parks and makes for an excellent scenic hike along the meanders of the Cowichan River.

Description:
The footpath covers a 20 km stretch of river and is well signposted. It passes through treed areas, across meadows, or hugs the banks of the swift, winding river. Fishermen of all ages use it, fishing for steelhead and trout, but hikers are welcome, and the river is a great place for canoeing, picnicking and swimming. The footpath was constructed by the Cowichan Fish and Game Association between 1960 and 1969 with the cooperation of government, industry and private individuals. The Swinging Bridge at Skutz Falls is quite a feature, linking the tow sections of the Footpath. The down-river section on the south side is the more frequented trail and is well brushed out. The up-river section on the north side is a more overgrown trail.

Access:
Eastern (down river) trailhead:Going northward to Duncan on Highway 1, turn left onto Allenby. At the end on Allenby turn left onto Indian Rd and then right onto Vaux Rd which is just before the Glenora Community Hall. Vaux Rd becomes Robertson Rd which proceeds to the eastern (down river) trailhead at the Cowichan Fish and Game Association Clubhouse.
Western (up river) trailhead: Turn left onto the Lake Cowichan Highway 18 which starts north of Duncan on Highway 1. After approximately 20 minutes of driving you should see signs posted about Skultz Falls. Follow the signs to Skutz Falls for the eastern (up river) trailhead.

Hiking Times:

  • From western end of the trail to Mile 66 CNR Trestle, about five hours.
  • It takes about 6 1/2 hours to hike the entire length.

No vehicles are allowed on the footpath.

Note:
BEWARE: The Cowichan River is dangerous and treacherous. Some access has been allowed through land owned by MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. When hiking please observe all notices about private property and the lighting of fires. Camping is only allowed on Crown Land. The trail is well maintained but no emergency aid is readily available over much of the path. Please travel prepared and respect the areas which pass through private property.

Skutz Falls Rapids

Cowichan River

The Cowichan River has long attracted people for its beauty and has been described as one of the best places in the world to fish trout and salmon. This Provincial Heritage River exits Cowichan Lake at the Town of Lake Cowichan (159 metres elevation) and meanders alongside Highway 18 to Duncan and then out into Georgia Strait at Cowichan Bay. The watershed of the river is around 900 square kilometres (90,000 ha) in total and the watershed is primarily a second growth forest consisting of Douglas firs, hemlock and lodge pole pine. Black cottonwood trees are found in abundance along the bank of the river.

The Cowichan River Provincial Park and other public recreation areas protects a large portion of the river for all to enjoy. Tourists and locals flock each year to the river to go camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, tubing and canoeing in and along the river corridor.

How to Access the Cowichan River:

Skutz Falls Road: (Western Access)
Located off of Highway 18, Skutz Falls Rd provides access to Skutz Falls and Marie Canyon Day Use Areas. These parks have access to the trailheads of Skutz Falls Circuit and the Cowichan River Trail.

Hwy 18 Connector: (Middle Access)
Located off of Highway 18, it provides access to the Stolz Pool Campground and picnic area and other day use areas.

Robertson Road: (Eastern Access)
To reach this point travel west on Glenora RD, turn right onto Vauz RD and continue onto Robertson Rd. This provides access to the eastern trailhead of the Cowichan River Trail.

Parks on the Cowichan River:
These parks are part of the Cowichan River Provincial Park. Information on camping in the area can be found in our camping section.

Skultz Falls: Western trailhead of the Cowichan River Footpath, pleasant walks, fishing, picnics, great swimming and tube runs.

Marie Canyon Park: Vist here for breathtaking cliffside views of the river canyon and rapids. There are also spots for fishing and picnics.

Stoltz Pool Park: Camping, a boat launch, pleasant walks, swimming, tube runs, fishing and picnics.

Sandy Pool Park: A pleasant beach for children, a boat launch and a short loop trail.

Want to go tubing down the river?
For a fun and safe experience you will need to know a few things. Traveling down the river takes seven to eight hours from the town of Lake Cowichan to Skutz Falls. Prepare your self with the appropriate gear; pool toys are not good floatation devices. You’ll be going to go through rough waters so wear a life jacket and if possible carry some ID with you. While the Cowichan River is fairly calm in the summer, there are swirl pools and other hazards. Tell someone your launching and arrival destinations. A few things you might want to have at your destination point are towels, first aid, snacks, and transportation. Happy tubing.


The Cowichan River Footpath
The Cowichan River Footpath connects all the river’s parks and makes for an excellent scenic hike along the meanders of the Cowichan River. It was originally constructed by and for fishers. It is approximately 20 km from end to end and takes about 6 1/2 hours to hike. It is well maintained but no emergency aid is readily available over much of the path. Please travel prepared and respect the areas which pass through private property. The Cowichan Fish and Game Association Clubhouse is at the eastern trailhead of the Cowichan River Footpath. More Information


Trans Canada Trail
The Trans Canada Trail is a project to create a linked system of trails across Canada. The section between Duncan and Lake Cowichan runs alongside the Cowichan River on an abandoned Canadian National Railway (CNR) railbed. All the rails have been removed and the trestles converted into bridges. This trail can be accessed at various points along the river such as at the mile 66 railroad trestle. More Information


More Information
Maps of the Cowichan River Corridor are avialible from the tourist information booths in both Duncan and Lake Cowichan. More information is avialible from the Ministry of Environment’s website.

Trans Canada Trail

The Trans Canada Trail is a visionary idea of the government of British Columbia to create a network of trails crossing all of Canada. It will be the longest trail of it’s kind in the world, spanning approximately 17,250 kilometers. The shared-use recreation of the trails will include walking, cycling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling (where possible/desired).

The Trail’s two routes on former railway lines out of Lake Cowichan both follow the Cowichan River into the Duncan Area. One goes north of the Cowichan River to the Duncan Area and then north to Nanaimo. The other goes south of the Cowichan River to the Duncan Area, then goes west of the Malahat Range to Sooke and then onto Victoria, BC. The later intersects with some of the provincial parks on the Cowichan River and the historical Cowichan River Footpath.

Both routes use abandoned railway lines (CNR and E & N) whose tracks have been taken up and trestles have been made into bridges. Trail conditions vary from hiking gravel to loose shale and everywhere inbetween. The trail in Lake Cowichan is well maintained and safe. Yellow hiker icons have been painted on the sidewalks to guide people through town between the two former railway lines.

From the Western Terminus travelers have access to Tourist information, Accommodations, Restaurants, and Internet access.

Go to the Trans Canada Trail Homepage for more information about this project. More information about trip planning on this section of the trail is also available on the BC Trans Canada Trail Homepage.

Heather Mountain

Access:
Heather Mountain is located at the head (west end) of Cowichan Lake. From the Town of Lake Cowichan to the head of the lake is about 38 km (24 miles) along South Shore Road or North Shore Road. For information about gates and accessibility to Heather Mountain trails, please call TimberWest.

Trail Description:
To reach the summit of Heather Mountain (about 1250 metres) you will be hiking up Branch R (sign posted) for most of the way. Branch R begins about 1.5 km north of Heather Campsite on the mountain side of the main road. Branch R will fork to the right off on a switch back (marked by a stump with yellow paint currently) which will take you around on the lake side of the mountain. It should take you around 40 minutes from the gate to walk up around the switchback and passed a recently logged section of forest to the lake side of the mountain. In this section on a good day you can see the top of the mountain’s secondary peak and look down upon Cowichan Lake and Heather Campsite.

About 20+ minutes more brings you to the saddle (about 820 meters) between the secondary peak and the summit where the trail is not always clear. The saddle’s lake side has a steep cliff and overlooks the lake as well. To reach the summit you must hike NW up the saddle to the summit trail. From the saddle to the summit the steep trail is marked. Time up this section is around 1 hours. A good way down is on the south side through the alders avoiding the gully. Summit views are magnificent – to the west the Nitinat valley, Hobiton Lake and Pacific Ocean; to the north Mts. Arrowsmith and Moriarty; to the east Mts. Whymper and Landalt and the Cowichan Valley.

Trail Dangers:
To reach the summit is a moderate to strenuous hike of around 3 hours and around 2.5 hours on the way back. Your elevation gain from Heather Campsite is around 1000 meters. The route itself, however, is a well maintained logging road for the first half and no rock climbing experience is required. If you miss the fork to the right of Branch R you will reach a heavily forested area and you should turn around and walk back to the fork. Carry plenty of water for your hike. Cell phone reception is poor on some sections but excellent in the sections overlooking Cowichan Lake. The area is beautiful in the summer with its alpine flowers, equally beautiful in the fall colors.

In the summer the mosquitoes can be very bad, so be sure to carry a repellant.

Heather Campsite

Access:
Heather BeachHeather Campsite is located on the lake right next to Heather Mountain. Take either South Shore Road or North Shore Road about 38 km (24 miles) around Cowichan Lake to reach the campsite. If you take North Shore Road, you’ll find the entrance before the turn off to the Carmanah.

Description:
Heather Campsite has a nice sandy beach, a boat launch and scenic views. A visitor once said that it is “A very scenic place, where you can see beautiful vistas, magical lake views, clear starry skies, vast clearcuts and large trucks belonging to rednecks.” Part of the campsite’s charm is that its not only at the farthest point from where the lake drains into the Cowichan River but you’re also the farthest from any real civilization you can get on the lake. Its close proximately to Heather Mountain makes it a great place to camp and spend a day hiking up to see the alpine views.

More Information about the cost of camping there and reservations is on our campgrounds listing.