We recently spent a couple of hours exploring the wonders of Rosewall Creek Provincial Park, a pristine 54 hectares (133 acres) of hemlock and big leaf maple forest that slices east-west below the Island Highway just south of Fanny Bay. For years we have whizzed by it on our way to other destinations, always vowing to stop one day and hike along the river. I suspect other folks tend to do the same – in the course of two hours of meandering on a lovely autumn afternoon we saw fewer than two dozen people.
The park was established in 1956 in memory of Lt. Ian MacDonald, a Fanny Bay resident who died in action during the Allied invasion of Normandy during the Second World War. There is a memorial sign in his honour in the small main parking area.
There is a wheelchair-accessible loop at the beginning of the trail that leads to a couple of picnic tables and views of the creek, but beyond that the terrain is variable. Some areas of the trails are quite smooth and provide easy going, while others are a little more rugged and require constant attentiveness to ensure that you don’t trip over exposed roots. There are some minor grades but nothing that anyone in reasonably fit condition shouldn’t be able to handle.
There are no particular ‘attractions’ to be found at Rosewall Creek, but we did find the quiet pools and small rapids full of spawning coho salmon to be captivating. There are many quiet spots to relax, contemplate and perhaps enjoy a picnic along the way. And the great variety of beautiful mushrooms and fungus growing out of tree trunks and deadfalls and on the forest floor also caught our eye. Pretty views of the river are, of course, a given.
We had hoped to reach the lower falls, about a 4 kilometre (2 ½ mile) hike from the parking lot, but our late afternoon start (because we were on our way home from ‘somewhere else’) and relaxed pace found us just at the upper reaches of the park with dusk closing in. Reluctantly we decided that the falls, which are located beyond the park boundary, will have to wait for another day.
Good walking shoes are a must on these trails, and a walking stick isn’t a bad idea either. Bears and cougars are not an unusual occurrence, especially in the autumn when the fish are spawning so, while dogs are permitted they must be kept on leash.
Rosewall Creek Provincial Park is located about 3 km (almost 2 miles) south of Fanny Bay or 24 km (15 miles) north of Qualicum Beach on the east coast of the Island, with easy access off the Old Island Highway (Highway 19A) .
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.454091 Long. -124.777039