Jack Point & Biggs Park: Another Nanaimo waterfront walking park

Hiding in plain sight sums up this ‘hidden’ gem of a park. It can be seen from all over the City of Nanaimo, but it’s location is mostly known for the BC Ferries Duke Point terminal which it adjoins, and you have to turn off the 4 lane ferry highway a mile or so before the park to access the park’s neat little parking lot. Hop out of your vehicle and walk through a short pedestrian tunnel under the highway and you pop out in another world only meters from the highway hidden behind a great hedge. It’s a wee bit like the magical and muggle worlds in Harry Potter, and anytime I’ve been there it hasn’t been crowded- just a beautiful stroll along a rather exceptional peninsula.




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Jack Point and Biggs Park map showing Nanaimo and directions from Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV

View Directions to Biggs & Jack Point Park from Living Forest in a larger map


Without Ben, our retriever, we probably wouldn’t have explored half of the great walks on the Island. He loves all creatures, 2 and 4 legged- but prefers to get on with it rather than read the typically excellent City of Nanaimo trail signage showing maps, and some history of each park. The waters across the Nanaimo River Estuary, to the City and harbour can be tranquil or rough along this exposed rocky peninsula depending on wind. This is a high tide shown here, but great mud flats below the estuary can be seen at low tides which can fluctuate over 5 meters.


Take a one minute video walk through the park


Anyone who spends time near the ocean on the East coast of Vancouver Island is familiar with the sandstone cliffs that line many West facing shores. Startling shapes below the high tide line have been created where the sea has selectively eroded the stone, along with the impact of air temperature changes on rock of different densities.


I don’t know the history of this evocative life sized First Nations carving, but it is a stunning reminder of this region’s connection to its first people. It greets you as you step onto the first of several cedar staircases that make the hike’s handful of small elevation changes easy. The round trip distance to the point and back to the car is about 3 miles or 5 km. A number of benches have been placed for rest or reflection with postcard views.


This is my favourite spot on the trail, at least at high tide, when the little bay on the right is full of water. In addition to the usual conifers you see in our parks, this park also has the more rare and diminutive Garry Oaks (behind Ben), as well as Arbutus. And the bleached driftwood (escapees from water transport) is an ongoing reminder of the forest industry which continues to be a big part of our Island economy. Forestry can be more than a little tough on the ecology of the region, but think of the jobs it creates for folks who patch up boats and motors after a boater hits one of these logs when they’re still floating free in the ocean.


These two sailboats are a part of a small racing fleet that had just rounded a marker and were launching their big spinnakers for the downwind leg of the Nanaimo Yacht Club’s weekly race. There were quite a number of freighters anchored off Nanaimo harbour for a while when we were taking this walk. They were using our harbour as a ‘cheap’ parking lot while awaiting a spot to load or unload their burdens in nearby Vancouver (50 km), where anchoring fees are waaaaay higher.


While some of the trail is flat and smooth, the section out near Jack Point (named after Jack Dolholt who lived on the point for 40 years) has many exposed roots and bedrock protruding into the trail. Good footware is never a stupid idea! The BC Ferries loading ramp is just visible between the trees on the left.


I’m sure Jack Dolholt had endless opportunities to watch (help?) as boats got into trouble rounding Jack Point- the small light above Ben’s head in the picture sits atop a large reef just off the point and plenty of boaters have met with grief trying to cut too close to shore rounding the point and found out who wins the fight between rock and hull. Great viewing bench on the trail here with a wide view from Nanaimo to the West, the mainland straight ahead, and the impressive cormorant nesting cliffs of Gabriola Island to the East.


One day I’ll be less useless when it comes to naming some of the cool plants I’ve become used to seeing on Vancouver Island hikes. Like this close up of these succulents that are found near the shore mixed among the moss and rocks. Whatever they are, I like them a lot.


Not exactly a skyline filled with highrises (and most Nanaimoites like it that way), it’s a great view of downtown Nanaimo from Jack Point. When a good Nor’wester is blowing this can be a pretty exciting place to be.


Families and the ocean go together remarkably well I’ve found.


Not exactly like the Coney Island boardwalk, but it sure makes some parts of the park more accessible.


And back near the trail head, it’s amazing how that big hedge preserves the sense that you have the whole world to yourself, and keeps the visuals of the highway away from the park. Straight across from this spot on the other side of the estuary is Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV.


Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV- Award winning, 53 acres, 300 sites. Webpage or Facebook

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