The Trails Society of British Columbia
Vancouver Island Region
Nanaimo and Area
Nanaimo is the second largest city on Vancouver Island and the hub through which much of Vancouver Island's commerce connects to the mainland. On the Island, Nanaimo is a crossroad providing access to travel and adventure north, south and west. The city began as a coal-mining town in the mid-1800's and developed strong logging and fishing industries. Today Nanaimo has a diversified economy that features fisheries, research facilities, leading-edge technology industries and Malaspina University-College.
Development of the Trans Canada Trail in the Nanaimo area has been accomplished by a small group of volunteers. These dedicated Trail visionaries obtained the cooperation of the city of Nanaimo and a number of private landowners south of the City in order to secure the section of the Trans Canada Trail from the Departure Bay ferry terminal in Nanaimo to Ladysmith. Weyerhaeuser was particularly generous in permitting over 30km of licensed Trail through the company's private forest lands.
The Regional District of Nanaimo became a partner in the Trans Canada Trail project as plans to bridge Haslam Creek and the Nanaimo River developed. A suspension bridge 18 metre above the Haslam Creek gorge was installed in November 2002. Funding for the bridge came from the Regional District of Nanaimo, the Province of B.C. and the Trans Canada Trail Foundation. The crossing point is spectacular and will be a major highlight of the Trans Canada Trail in the Nanaimo area. Next: a bridge over the Nanaimo River.
This is a brief description of the Trans Canada Trail route in the Nanaimo area. The description includes references to the markers shown on the map below. An excellent description of the route is contained in the book Trans Canada Trail - the British Columbia Route.
There are three distinct sections of the Trans Canada Trail in the Nanaimo area.
a) From the Ferry Terminal at Departure Bay , the Trans Canada Trail passes along the Nanaimo waterfront with spectacular ocean and mountain views. It then winds through three beautiful parks, each with a different focus: Bowen Park  with community facilities, wheelchair-accessible trails and a salmon-bearing river, Buttertubs Marsh , a bird and wildlife sanctuary, and Colliery Dam Park , with wheelchair-accessible and wilderness trails, and two lakes.
b) From Nanaimo's southern boundary the Trail continues south along the top of a ridge to the Village of Extension. This section is called the Extension Ridge Trail  and is a favourite with both mountain bikers and hikers. There are several viewpoints looking westward on ranges of mountains, a large earthquake fissure, and beautiful rocky bluffs, arbutus and manzanita groves. The Trail descends from the ridge to the small and picturesque village of Extension, an old coal-mining community. The Trail then passes through the village and follows a water pipeline road  to the Nanaimo River.
Eventually, a Trail bridge will be constructed across the Nanaimo River. In the interim the Trans Canada Trail route runs east along the Nanaimo River Road to the Trans Canada Highway, south on the Highway to Spruston Road, and then heads back inland along Spruston Road to the trailhead where the Trail picks up again and continues running south.
c) On the south side of the Nanaimo River, at the Spruston Road trailhead, Darryl’s Way takes you to the River. This area is a magnet for equestrians. There are many trails and a large parking area for trailers. From the Spruston Road trailhead the White Pine Trail  proceeds south as a wilderness-hiking trail to Timberlands Lake. The trail is so-named for a large white pine, an uncommon tree these days. Timberlands Lake is a popular fishing and swimming spot, a jewel of a lake. The trail continues south from Timberlands Lake to Haslam Creek where it crosses on a spectacular 48 metre suspension bridge  slung 18 metres above the creek. Haslam Creek changes from a docile trickle of water in late summer to a raging torrent in the spring. South of Haslam Creek the trail is under development, and a Haslam Creek Map is provided for instructions.
The description of the trail route continues on the Cowichan Valley and Area page.
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The Trails Society of British Columbia
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