You get a little bit of everything when you visit Jack Point/Biggs Park near Nanaimo – views of the city from a distance, beautiful naturescapes, waterfront, wildlife, forested trails. It’s a bit of a hidden gem, tucked away along the edge of the peninsula that leads to the B.C. Ferries Duke Point ferry terminal, and it takes some finding – the signage once you leave the four-lane highway leading to the terminal isn’t all that clear-cut (especially if you are coming from the terminal.) But this lovely little 32-acre linear park is well worth the effort of getting to it.
Jack Point is named after Jack Doholt, who died in 1905. He supplied Nanaimo with milk and hay, and lived on the point for 40 years. Biggs Park, also part of this area, is named after John Biggs, a carpenter and miner who pre-empted the land.
Although not crowded, the park hiking trails are well-used by folks of all ages. There is a 2 ½ kilometre (1 ½ mile) trail that meanders along the waterfront out to the point, and there is a loop trail that goes out and around the tip of the point. Those planning to take in the entire area should probably set aside at least 1 ½ to two hours, especially if they want to pause a while to enjoy the beautiful views, rest on a bench or study the flora and fauna of the area. There are several sturdily-built stairways and a viewing platform that looks out over the Nanaimo River estuary – or, you can plunk yourself down anywhere along the trail to take in the pretty and varied views, watch blue herons fishing for their meals or observe other wildlife such as bald eagles, sea lions, seals and harbour porpoises.
During our visit on a sunny afternoon we ran into a number of folks out enjoying the park with their dogs and children. We lingered to watch half a dozen herons on the estuary patiently hunting down dinner, admired a massive sculpture crafted from a burl, paused to marvel at a wide range of wildflowers, and took in views from many different angles. We loved this park – it encourages dawdling and offers a beautiful, relaxed environment in which to while away a leisurely couple of hours, take in the wonders of nature and return to your vehicle relaxed and rejuvenated.
Those planning to visit Jack Point/Biggs Park would be well-advised to wear good walking shoes, and you might want to pack some sort of beverage along with you – or even a picnic. Other than a porta-potty near the entrance to the park there are no facilities whatsoever. Be sure to take your camera – there is much to photograph.
To get to Jack Point/Biggs Park, head for the Duke Point ferry terminal south of Nanaimo, and take the turn-off from the Duke Point Highway where the signs indicate Jack Point/Biggs Park. You will find yourself wending your way through an industrial area before ending up at a parking lot. Park your vehicle, walk through the tunnel that ducks under the highway, turn right into the park area and prepare to enjoy an hour or two of nature at her best.
GPS co-ordinates for Jack Point/Biggs Park are (roughly):
Lat. 49.149573260092566 Long. -123.88733446598053
N 49 08.974 W 123 53.240