We love hiking, and as a company that commits to planting 10 trees for each item purchased in our store, that fact should come as no surprise! Canada has some of the most incredible hikes in the world.
Here are 5 hikes that you didn’t know about on South Vancouver Island. For more information feel free to reach out to me on instagram @stasher_bc.
1) Mount Arrowsmith
Not only is Mount Arrowsmith the tallest peak on southern Vancouver Island but it also happens to be very accessible. This often seen but overlooked peak is right off the highway on the way to Tofino from Nanaimo.
A short drive past Cathedral Grove the turnoff up Cameron Main logging road and then to Pass Main logging road brings you to the trailhead known as Judges route. From here you will set out on a moderately strenuous hike and scramble up the forest and alpine rock sections to the summit at 1819m. Once on the summit the views are rewarding for the effort, from the Coast Mountains on the mainland to Mt Baker and Nanaimo to the Olympic Peninsula you will be grinning from ear to ear. Give yourself at least 6 hrs to enjoy this hike.
2) Maple Mountain
A true hidden sanctuary of ferns, mosses and the unique mesmerizing Arbutus tree, the blue and yellow trail loop is a hidden gem. The fact that this hike is tucked away along the shoreline of the Sansum Narrow that separates Salt Spring Island and Vancouver Island helps make it a favorite often only experienced by locals.
The trail is accessed from either Maple Bay or Crofton running between these two Oceanside communities, taking each trail to create a loop or just one as a there and back. The blue trail takes you higher up the mountain deep into the forest with beautiful waterfalls in wetter months while the yellow trail drops you along open bluffs with majestic views of the ocean often seeing bald eagles, harbor seals and if you are lucky enough the spiritual Orca. Leave yourself 5hrs to complete this 10km loop and watch for the hidden rope swing on the yellow trail in summer for a quick dip into the ocean.
3) Mount Tzhouhalem
Overlooking the Cowichan Valley and Cowichan Bay estuary, the cross atop the lookout on the summit ridge of this mountain is a regular hike to many locals. From either Duncan or Maple Bay you will set out on Maple Bay road turning onto Kingsview and then Chippewa road to the municipal parking lot.
From the parking lot you will set out on foot up old logging roads and a network of trail systems to reach the cross trail which brings you to the cliffs and ridge upon which the cross sits. This mountain is home to a wonderful mix of local cedar, fir and arbutus trees as well as home to the endangered protected Gary Oak preserve. From the summit soak in the beauty that is the Cowichan Valley. Give yourself 3-4 hrs to enjoy this relaxing moderate hike.
4) Avatar Grove
The old growth forests of Vancouver Island are a unique experience to the region due the warm climate and high levels of rain these giants have grown to unbelievable proportion. Most visitors encounter these towering cedar and fir trees on highway 4 to Tofino as the highway cuts right through the park but did you know there was a spot with even bigger trees?
Located on the southern tip of the island NW from Port Renfrew on Gordon River Main logging road you will find yourself at Avatar Grove. This region was set top be logged many years ago but thanks to the hard work of locals it was preserved and saved. Now we are lucky to see the ancient trees protected via a nice hiking trail.
Taking the upper trail you will hike on paths and boardwalks built by passionate volunteers and will eventually reach Canada’s “Gnarliest” tree. Give yourself about an hour to do this hike or more if you want to just stay for a while and soak up nature at it’s finest.
5) Mt Maxwell
This hike showcases the eastern shoreline of Vancouver Island from the west side of Mt Maxwell on SaltSpring Island. Your day will have you starting at Crofton to take the ferry across to Salt Spring Island. Once here you will drive down through the heart of the island past Ganges and down to Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park to leave your car.
The trail starts out on a logging road and eventually opens to wide open bluffs with a sunny west exposure meandering up through Gary Oak trees, large boulders and even some small caves. The bluffs eventually connect into the west ridge of Mt Maxwell provincial park where you will work your way on trail to Baynes Peak, the highest point on Salt Spring Island.
You will enjoy the sights of Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands and even south to Victoria and the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula beyond. Leave yourself 5 hrs to enjoy this hike plus the 2hrs for the ferry. As a little tip try to do this hike on a Saturday to visit the renowned Ganges farmers market.