This is the region’s newest park, a 56 hectare (138 acre) jewel. Nanaimo River has many faces- waterfalls and raging canyons and also gentle but noisy sections like this, with quiet and clear side pools. These flat rocks heat up in the summer making a perfect place to sun then cool off in the shallow pools. The 2 km groomed trail that runs through park along the river can be accessed from either end. There’s several Geocaches too!
Overview of locations of Vancouver Island Touring posts
View Vancouver Island Touring things to see and do 2 in a larger map
View Nanaimo River Regional Park in a larger map
The usual info kiosk shows the trail layout as well as info for other Regional Parks
The sound of the water racing over the river rocks permeates the whole park walk. There’s a reason Disneyland makes sure you can hear running water everywhere in their theme park. Even back in the 60’s old Walt knew how soothing and relaxing that sound is.
Nanaimo gets it’s water supply from the pristine Nanaimo River which goes through a series of lakes before it heads down to the ocean. That’s what makes the water so much warmer for summer swimming than most of the rivers that come straight off the mountain snowpack. I’ll have to wait until next summer to come back to swim here, but I’m sure these big flat hot rocks probably call out loud and clear to folks looking to soak up some rays. Having the clear shallow pools right beside the rocks makes it just about perfect.
The upper end of the 2 km trail brings you to the other trail head, a couple kilometers downstream from WildPlay Elements Park (Bungy Jump). You have to scramble down a short steep bank to access the water here where the river exhibits a very quiet section. Sadly, at this end of the park you can hear the Trans Canada highway in the distance.
Back near the Thatcher Road trail head, where we started, it looks like a decent place to launch a river kayak or tough aluminum canoe as we plan to do soon, when the salmon run begins- nothing beats paddling with thousands of fish! The river rocks here make the footing a bit treacherous- this is a definitely a place for sure footed ‘wet shoes’.
This is just a short video clip for folks thinking of paddling, showing the nature of the water flow in late September, when levels are low. You wouldn’t want to take a delicate craft down here- there will be some bottom bumping in some of these sections for sure, and probably a few ‘get out and walk’ places between the deeper sections.
I’ll leave you with a picture of the happiest dog in Canada- at least when he’s wading around in the water. When my family moved to Nanaimo a long long time ago, we canoed from this spot down the ocean, where we now operate Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV. I couldn’t be happier to see this little piece of heaven officially turned into a park. Hope you get to enjoy it soon!