Tucked away at the top of Ladysmith, you’ll find Holland Creek. The whole trail system here can take you from Transfer Beach to Heart Lake and Stocking Lake, so whatever you are in the mood for (distance and difficulty), you’ll find it here.
My favourite trail here is the Holland Creek Loop Trail. Marked by the yellow markers, you can start in a couple different places. The easiest one I’ve found is just down the road from the Police Station. There is a small parking lot at the corner of Methuen and 6th Ave where you can connect to the trails and start the Loop Trail.
This is my favourite place to start because if you take a left onto the trail from the parking lot, you head down a series of staircases and it’s much easier going down stairs than up! Starting here, you’ll find the trail runs along behind residential properties down towards the creek bed. It’s lush green forest and there are the occasional surprises (think carved owls and faces) to be found in the trees if you keep your eyes peeled.
There were two dams on the creek at one time and you’ll find the remnants of one at the bottom of the staircases. The path zigzags along here, but just keep following the yellow markers and you’ll stay on track. You do start climbing a bit and will hit a fork in the path. To go to the left, you’ll go up to the road and can cross the bridge to reconnect to the loop trail on the other side. To go right, you go under the bridge and will follow the trails down towards Transfer Beach.
I turned left, crossed the bridge, and jumped back on the Loop Trail on the other side. From here, the trail goes up and down a lot more than I ever remember it does (honestly, I’m surprised at the hills every time I go!) but it’s lovely. You hear lots of birds, are really well sheltered in the trees, and can hear the water running in the creek below.
About half way along, you’ll see a great waterfall. The waterfall cascades down a steep 10(ish) meter drop into a beautiful pool. It’s a lovely spot to stop, enjoy the scenery and catch your breath a little bit! To continue on, you’ll tackle a few switchbacks before the trail levels out to more gradual ups and downs.
As you come out from the trail along the backside of the creek, you’ll find the junction from the Loop Trail to the Heart Lake and Stocking Lake Trails. Heart Lake is a beautiful hike up a fairly steep climb. I’ve only done that once though, so I’ll go back to tackle it again and tell you more about it another time!
We turned right to stay on the Loop Trail and headed back towards the car. The trail meanders along between residential properties and the creek at this part of the trail, but it’s a lovely end to a good walk around the Loop.
Just after you cross the bridge, you’ll find a turn-off up to the Rotary Look-Out. It’s an additional 20-30 minutes but it’s great for sweeping views across the Island and water. On a clear day from here, you can see north up to Nanaimo Airport and south to Maple Mountain. It’s a good little sidetrack from the Loop Trail to be sure!
We finished the Loop Trail in about 1.5 hours, going approximately 6km. We were chatting as we walked so probably not going as fast as we could have, but it was the prefect trip for us that day. It’s one of those trails where you stay sheltered in the trees so that you can go rain or shine and the trails are never that crowded so you’ll feel like you have the whole forest to yourself!
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