Linley Valley- Miles of forested wilderness trails right in the City!






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Arbutus Bluffs is one of many mossy rock outcrops poking skyward out of Linley Valley, and one of the few where you can see down into Departure Bay and downtown Nanaimo and Living Forest beyond. Because Linley Valley is surrounded by residential areas, there are many access points, some formal park entrances and others nondescript trails meandering into the forest.


Linley Valley is much larger than the part that is park and adjoining timber license property (with development moratorium). This map shows approximate boundaries of those two areas and driving directions to Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV.

View Linley Valley Park and surrounding ‘parklike’ area in a larger map


Shallow Cottle Lake is home to many types of waterfowl and beavers.  The City of Nanaimo park trail head on Rock City Road leads down the lake.  It outflows into Cottle Creek which cuts through the lower valley.


A friend of mine calls Linley Valley’s primary colour as “heartbreakingly green”.  That term isn’t from Shakespeare, but it is evocative.


Banana slugs are called the vacuum cleaners of the forest, and contribute greatly to the complex ecosystem.  My ‘cheddar’ retriever, Ben, always tries not to step on them- actually he could care less, it’s just that the slug slime messes up his fur.  The miles of trails criss-cross the valley and the hilltops, and the valley trails naturally can be wet so volunteers have built boardwalks in some sections.


Atop one of the ridges there are a number of cairns, some with inscriptions.  The mountain in the background is Nanaimo’s Mt. Benson, and like Linley Valley, became parkland through the tireless fundraising efforts of Nanaimo Area Land Trust.  Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV has been a proud and generous contributor to NALT.


A big part of the magic of Linley Valley is that people have just followed the game trails and co-opted them for themselves. A good sense of direction or GPS are needed if you’re on a time budget in the valley!  With hundreds of acres of trails, you can walk the valley every day and do hikes of widely ranging length, elevation change and difficulty.  I love how one minute you’re deep in the forest and the next out on an open mossy hillside.


Pileated Woodpeckers and many species of owls patrol the forest.  Seems like awfully hard work to be rewarded with bugs.


My wife calls the City Parks staff groomed trail system “the good walk”, as it has smoother surfaces, proper bridges and signage.  Ben doesn’t really care as long as he’s in the valley somewhere.


Seeing the different views as the seasons change always makes me wonder what the view will be like on a given day.  Because the valley is ringed with rocky ridges, you rarely hear the City even though you’re right in the ‘donut hole’ between the Departure Bay and Hammond Bay residential areas.


Since my Blackberry Torch smartphone has GPS, I downloaded Geocaching software (about $10), and have had lots of fun searching for the many geocaches in Linley Valley.  Ben gets really excited when we close in on our target- I don’t think he really understands the game, but he thinks he does.




There’s something quite wonderful and renewing to walk through a forest trail. This is a much younger Ben and seeing this shot reminds me how many years we’ve explored Linley Valley together.

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