One of the prettiest, most pristine and easily accessible nature walks on Vancouver Island is just a stone’s throw from the village of Qualicum Beach.
The site is home to a steelhead recovery plan program and salmonid enhancement and watershed restoration projects, and encompasses a very large chunk of acreage bordering the west side of the lower Little Qualicum River. The surroundings are enough to please any lover of the outdoors, but this intriguing spot also offers close-up glimpses of the life cycle of one of Vancouver Island’s most important natural assets – salmon.
Access to the network of meandering trails, spawning channels and the Little Qualicum River itself can be found by travelling a short distance along a gravel road and turning right into a spacious gravel parking lot. From there visitors can take time to watch whatever may be going on at the complex of fish ladders adjacent to the parking area, or they can strike off on an easy loop walk that, done at a leisurely pace, will take about an hour. The trails are wide, well-maintained and level and offer a variety of visual delights that include wildlife sightings, views of the river, spawning channels, forest and open spaces. Black bear and cougar are not unheard of in the area, although not commonly encountered. This is essentially wild land and the presence of fish, most especially in the autumn when the salmon are spawning, is an attractant for wildlife.
A walk or bicycle ride at this very lovely location can take you in a variety of directions. We have been known to stray off the main path and end up at the river, mesmerized by the upstream struggle of spawning salmon. We have trailed across the sturdy metal bridges that span the man-made side-channels and found ourselves almost eye-to-eye with a blue heron. We have enjoyed the antics of gambolling deer, the cries of bald eagles on the hunt. Every adventure brings new surprises and delights.
We have taken our dog there, and have come upon other visitors who also take their canine buddies along. There are no signs prohibiting off-leash activity, but be aware that an encounter with wildlife could be problematic with a loose dog, especially if it isn’t well trained on the recall.
Known locally simply as the Little Qualicum spawning channels, this lovely spot is located at 1380 Claymore Road. You can reach Claymore by taking the Laburnum Road bypass around the village of Qualicum Beach.
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.35037310874317 Long. -124.49569702148437
N 49 21.022 W 124 29.742