Park Guide: Nile Creek

While travelling up or down the inland highway between Horne Lake and Bowser, you drive over Nile Creek. It’s a nondescript overpass without much of a view but, if you are like me, you notice this spot because there is always a bunch of random cars parked on the side. From the highway, there is no real indication of what the car owners might be out doing or why they chose that particular spot to stop. Naturally, the mystery of it all has always made me want to go!

Nile Creek overpass on Highway 19
crossing under the overpass to get to the trailhead
The “new year, new me” mantra many of us are singing right now has inspired Rina and I to stop hibernating and keep exploring. The rain, wind, frost, etc has been keeping us inside for much of the winter thus far (read: we’re making many trips to the gym right now) but when the weather cleared for a few hours this weekend, we jumped up and headed out! Since we started the blog, Nile Creek has been on our list to check out so that’s exactly where we headed.

the path worn in by hikers to cross under the overpass
As we passed Qualicum, I kept my eyes peeled because I thought it was just passed there that we’d have to pull over and stop on the side. Rina was driving and thought we were headed closer to Courtenay. Not wanting to pass it, I did a quick google search and found more specific directions than our approach of “watch for signs.” Heading north, you pass the Horne Lake exit and keep going to cross over two overpasses. After the second, start watching for the third overpass (and sign for Nile Creek!) and slow down as you approach. Here, you pull off to the side on the north side of the overpass and get ready to hike!
sometimes you have to go THROUGH the tree 😂
Once stopped, we had a quick car picnic, changed our shoes, and off we went. There’s a path worn in from hikers starting out from this spot, so we followed that and circled under the overpass and connected with the Nile Creek Trail. There are a couple trail options once you’ve crossed underneath the overpass. We initially took the one that appeared to be heading directly to the riverbank but were quickly turned away. The recent storm knocked down quite a few trees in this area and at least two had fallen directly over this path. While we found a way through the first fallen tree, the second hid the trail entirely and we had no idea what direction to even try going. We made our way back through the first tree and back to the overpass where the trail had split to try our luck with the other path.

At first, it was just an awesome forest trail. It reminded us both of our adventures at Rosewall Creek and Rina was excited when the noise of the highway finally faded away and all we could hear was the sounds of the forest (for a “forest bath” experience).

We meandered along, following the path and listening to the nearby river flowing. Within about 10 minutes though, the trail turned very “adventurey” (our new word made up just for this trail!) and what followed in the next 2.5 hours was both super entertaining and really fun!

The trail itself follows along Nile Creek and with the rains we’ve had recently the water was high and flowing fast. The trail has lots of muddy spots and is fairly narrow as you go, but is easy to follow and mostly level all the way along. The trail is a there-and-back trail and you just have to keep at it and go as far as you can! All your efforts will be rewarded with an amazing series of waterfalls as you start climbing the steep part near the end 😍

We took our time, enjoying being on a new trail and figuring it out as we went. The adventurey part had us crossing log bridges, scaling over and under various obstacles, hopping from one strategically-placed piece of wood to the next in extra muddy spots, and walking along the whole length of fallen trees.

The people who have carved this trail into the forest need medals for their efforts! It’s simply amazing! It’s because of them that we can all go here to enjoy the forest, creek, and waterfalls but minimize any damage to the forest floor and let the water keep running where it needs to go. While dogs would make for great hiking companions on this trail, I think it’s fairly safe to say that small children and strollers will not likely have good time.

I think we took about two hours walking in and less than an hour walking out. Having gotten the lay of the land, we happily arrived back at the car without incident, well except for some muddy shoes. It was only 4pm when we finished the hike so we had just enough time to swing by our favourite brewery, Loveshack Libations, for a pint to cheers our most adventurey hike yet!

To check out more of our Van Isle adventures, click here

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