Park Guide: Cathedral Grove & Malcolm Community Park

We both love ice cream, but it’s kind of a guilty pleasure! In the past, we have tried to make sure we do something active in order to earn the treat and it’s special day (read: usually pretty hot and always very sunny!) when we indulge in a cone.  Turns out we might suffer from a bit of “treat guilt”!

We had a couple hours one day and at least one of us (it was Alina!) had a craving for ice cream and so naturally we thought of a trip to Whiskey Creek Store. This place is famous for its ice cream cones and it has over 30 flavours from Island Farms so you can be either be daring and try something new or else go for your favourite flavour each time.  Either way, you’re sure to enjoy every bite! We decided to turn the trip into an adventure and get a few steps in first to at least earn the treat.

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We headed out and went directly to Cathedral Grove, home of an ancient and an endangered giant Douglas Fir ecosystem. Many trees in the Grove are 500-800 years old and can sway about 250ft overhead. Seriously, they are just massive! Throughout the Grove, there are a lot more paths here now than either of us remember as kids so it’s a nice spot to explore and, since people come from near and far to walk amongst these giants, it’s a great spot to people-watch too. The paths meander through the forest and
along a creek bed. They also connect to the trail system that goes straight up Mt Arrowsmith if you just want a beautiful start to a crazy hike!

We were content to mosey along and take a few new turns to check out some corners of the Grove we hadn’t seen before. Beyond the Giant Douglas Firs, Cathedral Grove also contains many culturally modified trees. Many Red Cedars in the Grove have had their bark stripped– an ancient practice of First Nations people for cultural and ceremonial purposes.

Of course, no trip to Cathedral Grove is complete without a stop at The Big Tree. The Big Tree is thought to be over 800 years old, 76m tall, and 9m round. It’s called The Big Tree for good reason! The Grove will be changed every time you visit so that if you haven’t been here in a while, we highly recommend a trip back to check it out again!

After a jaunt around Cathedral Grove we headed back to the Whiskey Creek Store. Before we got ice cream though, we headed out back to the trail entrance to Malcolm Community Park and Steve’s Loop Trail. The trail starts right at the parking lot here and is just lovely. There are a few little hills and dips as you follow along, but the forest is full of new growth trees (read: all quite skinny and short when compared to Cathedral Grove) and the trail is probably somewhat underutilized as we didn’t pass another soul along the way. Whiskey Creek runs alongside but is almost silent itself so that you can bask in the sounds of the forest or chat it up and fill the void yourself if you’d like.

The loop from the parking lot is just about 2.5km and took us about half an hour at a very comfortable pace. The trail is a rough loop but easy to follow so there’s little chance you will get lost. Here, we had the motivation to get back to Whiskey Creek Store because we were finally going to get an ice cream!

We made it back without incident and found we both really liked this new trail discovery! We got our ice creams and headed home, happy with the day’s adventure that got us outside, moving, and involved a yummy treat!

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Go Hiking to the Bomber Plane Crash in Tofino

I’ve wanted to do this hike for years and just never made it there… Either it was too rainy when I got to Tofino or I was in Tofino to go to the beach or another event.  If I’m being honest, I also thought this hike was in Ucluelet (not Tofino like it actually is!) so it was probably best I waited for a friend to suggest we go and tag along with them so I actually got where I planned to go!

I’m talking about the hike to the famous Canso Bomber plane crash site in Tofino.  Starting near Radar Hill, you walk through some dense West Coast rain forest, a genuine muddy bog, an absolute maze of tree roots, and around a crater lake left by bomb detonations after the crash.  In total, the hike was only about 4.9km rountrip, but it was certainly one of the more interesting short hikes I’ve ever done!   Continue reading “Go Hiking to the Bomber Plane Crash in Tofino”

Park Guide: Sandy Island Marine Park

looking back at Denman from Sandy Island

Having grown up on Vancouver Island, I’m fortunate that this island and its surroundings have always provided the backdrop to my camping experiences, hiking trips, and island adventures.  Of course, as I got older and started exploring on my own, I found my favourites and, over the years, I’ve apparently developed a bit of a routine that helps make sure I visit these places as often as I can.  One such place is Hornby Island.  It’s my happy place and I’d be there every weekend if I could!

the view at the bottom of the stairs on the way to Sandy Island

My trips to Hornby usually consist of:

  • drive from Nanaimo to Buckley Bay
  • catch the ferry to Denman (always using my BC Ferry Experience Card)
  • drive as fast as I can across Denman
  • catch the ferry to Hornby
  • have an amazing time on Hornby

In all the years I’ve been going to Hornby Island, I’ve spent zero time on Denman Island and have always kinda wondered what I’d find there if I ever stayed longer than it takes to catch the ferry.

Continue reading “Park Guide: Sandy Island Marine Park”

Go Hiking at Cameron Lake Trestles & Wesley Ridge

Every time I’ve driven to Port Alberni and beyond, I pass Cameron Lake and have looked longingly across the lake at the old trestle on the other side.  I always wondered how you got there and imagined you’d be privy to a pretty spectacular view from that spot.

Fast forward to a day a couple weeks ago where it was too beautiful to stay inside and I wanted to get out and play.  My friend suggested the trails around Cameron Lake and I readily agreed if it meant finally getting to go see the trestle!

Continue reading “Go Hiking at Cameron Lake Trestles & Wesley Ridge”

Park Guide: Extension Ridge & The Abyss

Have you discovered the Extension Ridge trail system in the heart of Nanaimo yet?  It’s beautiful, connects Nanaimo to Chase River (about 9.5 km away) and features The Abyss, a geological crack/earthquake fissure in the ground that everyone seems to have a different story about!

While it’s hard to actually confirm any of the stories you might hear about the Abyss or why it’s even there, it makes for a great reason to get out and explore this trail!  Another bonus: this trail forms part of the Trans Canada Trail (aka. The Great Trail) so if you’re up for it, you can just keep walking all the way over to Nova Scotia if you wanted!
Continue reading “Park Guide: Extension Ridge & The Abyss”

Park Guide: Roger Creek Park & Trail

Honestly, I haven’t spent much time in Port Alberni so when my friend suggested a hike there, I had to hit the Google search. We were slightly pressed for time and had to make sure we picked up some Mexican for lunch (my own requirement!) and so, Roger Creek Park & Trail was a great choice!  The idea was that we could walk to the back side of the Hole in the Wall, a well-known but very quick walk in Port Alberni.  Heading to the Roger Creek Trail would give us a longer trip, show us a new side of that beloved stop, and still give us enough time for lunch! The park was easy to find; it’s right off the highway and has a parking lot with signage. This park also has a large network of trails so I snapped a picture of the map at the trail head (this ended up being a good idea).   Continue reading “Park Guide: Roger Creek Park & Trail”