Grandon Creek Nature Trail offers a short but lovely excursion

The trail wends its way along the ravine bordering Grandon Creek

The trail wends its way along the ravine bordering Grandon Creek

It’s not a particularly big or impressive excursion in the whole scheme of things, but a pretty tucked-away hike in the west part of the village of Qualicum Beach has been a long-time favourite of ours.  Grandon Creek nature trail has undergone some changes since our family first discovered it more than 30 years ago, but they have been changes for the better.

Grandon Creek

Grandon Creek

The park can be accessed from two locations, either off Hoy Lake Road West, or at the junction of Crescent Road West and Beach Terrace, just off Highway 19A (or the Old Island Highway, as it is known by locals) The entrance to the trail near the old highway offers a small parking area, so is probably the best starting point if you are in a vehicle.

Remnants of days gone by - a felled tree, complete with logger's notch, acts as host for new growth

Remnants of days gone by – a felled tree, complete with logger’s notch, acts as host for new growth

We spent a very pleasant hour hiking (mostly uphill) Grandon Creek on a recent lovely Spring morning. We were delighted to find that what was once a rough trail cutting along the streambank has been rejuvenated and upgraded with bridges over boggy areas.  There are still muddy spots, but nothing like the trail of old.

Trillium  can be found alongside the trail in early Spring

Trillium can be found alongside the trail in early Spring

Thanks to the efforts of the Town of Qualicum Beach and the Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers Society the creek is being restored as a spawning and rearing site for Coho salmon and cutthroat trout.  Sedimentation and human disturbance over the years has had significant impact on the fish populations, but with the efforts now underway it is hoped that Grandon Creek will in future be home to thriving communities of the two aforementioned species, as well as to Chum salmon.

Skunk Cabbage - or Swamp Lantern

Skunk Cabbage – or Swamp Lantern

Although the maple and alder leaf canopy hadn’t yet unfurled when we visited, there was plenty to see and enjoy on our adventure.  There is green everywhere – a huge variety of mosses cling to almost everything, massive ferns dominate the slopes of the ravine and, of course, there are the native cedar, fir and balsam.  Trilliums had sprung to life, brightening the trailside with their graceful white blossoms, and the perennial skunk cabbage, a sure herald of spring, brightened streamside with their vivid yellow presence.

Signs of the ravine having been logged many years ago remain – massive stumps still bear the scars of loggers’ notches. But there is new growth, too – some of it springing from the very trees that were cut down decades ago.

A fallen tree acts as a nurse tree for moss and ferns

A fallen tree acts as a nurse tree for moss and ferns

All along the trail there is the delightful sound of running water and bird song in the background, a soothing addition to the overall loveliness of this most enjoyable short hike.  If you want to continue further on you can hit the wood chip trail at Hoy Lake Road West and walk all the way in to the village, or skirt the village and explore the Arbutus Trails. For us, on this particular day, the hike up to Hoy Lake and then back down the ravine to West Crescent was just enough to give us a taste of Spring, fresh air and the outdoors – always an invigorating experience after the rains of winter.

Further information on the Grandon Creek nature trail (and a map) can be found at the website:

http://viewer.visitparksvillequalicumbeach.com/publication/4f82932c#/4f82932c/18

GPS co-ordinates for the West Crescent parking area are:

Lat. 49.3572374292841  Long. -124.46750235666803

N 49 21.434  W 124 28.050

Shirley

About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers. In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.
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