hikes in Courtenay
Situated in the Comox Valley along the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, Courtenay borders the mountainous expanse of Strathcona Provincial Park to the west and the blue waters of the Strait of Georgia to the east, making it an ideal jumping-off point to explore the diverse landscapes of the island. This charming city with its unique setting is one of the only places in the world where you can kayak on the ocean, head out cycling or hiking, downhill ski in the mountains, and lounge by the beach for a sunset, all within the same day.
Accessible by car, plane, and a ferry that runs from Powell River on the Sunshine Coast, Courtenay is an amazing destination on Vancouver Island that features the amenities of a big city, with a wonderful sense of community and creativity that can only be found in a small town. With a colourful culinary scene that is supported by the local farming and fishing industries, there is more to explore on a visit to Courtenay than just the pristine British Columbia landscape. There truly is something for everyone in this beautiful seaside locale.
The Top 10 Hikes In Courtenay
With access to a number of different outdoor activities, Courtenay and the Comox Valley region are known to be an all-season destination for exploring the outdoors; however, it is the area’s many hiking routes that really make the wonderful landscapes of this region shine. Pleasant urban walkways like the Courtenay Riverway provide people within the city with the opportunity to connect with nature, whereas routes along the rocky coastline or further west toward the mountainous interior of the islands provide a bit more of a wild experience for those that want to leave the chaos of the outside world behind. Check out this list of 10 amazing hikes around Courtenay that we’ve put together below:
- Chinese Mountains Loop: This 2.6mi lollipop route is located on Quadra Island and will take you up to an amazing summit viewpoint to experience beautiful coastal scenery. On this hike, you will traverse a variety of terrain on your way up the mountain and will have a great sightline to the mainland.
- Ripple Rock Trail: This beautiful coastal hike will expose you to some stunning scenery and local history. The 5.0mi out-and-back trail will take you to a lookout over the Seymour Narrows, the site of one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. Here, the waterway was reshaped to allow for safe passage by ships through the treacherous narrows.
- Elk Falls Loop Trail: Hiking the Elk Falls Loop is a quick and easy experience that will take you through the lovely forests of Elk Falls Provincial Park for views of a rushing waterfall. The well-maintained trails and stunning views of the moss-covered waterfall makes this a fantastic family-friendly hike that can be enjoyed by all.
- Nymph Falls Trail: Another great waterfall hike, this trail will take you through a stretch of temperate rainforest west of Courtenay for views overlooking a cascading waterfall. Diverse plant and animal life, as well as easy to navigate trails, make this route perfect for a fun family excursion.
- Ford Cove to Shingle Spit Trail: This hike on Hornby Island will take you through forests along the coast for beautiful views looking out across the water. The 3.7mi trail passes through Mount Geoffrey Escarpment Provincial Park and offers a great chance to explore the rugged coastline.
- Seal Bay Beach Loop: Passing through the Seal Bay Nature Park, this charming trail will take you through a stretch of temperate rainforest to reach a quaint beach. Once there, you will have an amazing sightline across the Strait of Georgia towards the Sunshine Coast.
- Courtenay Riverway Heritage Park: One of the most popular walks in Courtenay, the Riverway will lead you along the edge of the water for some lovely views of the city and the Comox Harbour. This hike is great if you are looking to get some exercise and experience beautiful views without leaving the city limits.
- Seal Bay Horse & Bike Loop: Another great hike in the Seal Bay Nature Park, this 5.4mi trail will lead you through the rainforest to experience its natural beauty and biodiversity. This is a multi-use trail, so keep an eye out for bikers and horseback riders.
- Trent Falls: This short hiking trail will take you alongside the waters of the Trent River to experience views of a stunning waterfall. The path leading through the forest is well-maintained and suitable for hikers of all ages and skill levels; however, those looking to get up close and personal with the falls will need to traverse a series of rope installations.
- Campbell River Canyon View Trail: Another short but scenic hike in Elk Falls Provincial Park, this trail will take you along the banks of the river for amazing views of the rushing water and the chance to watch bears feeding on salmon depending on the time of year.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Courtenay?
When looking to plan a hiking trip to Courtenay, the best season is subjective and will rely largely on what type of trails and landscapes you are looking to traverse. Generally speaking, the summer months (June-September) will offer the most favourable weather if you are looking to explore the rugged and mountainous trails within Strathcona Park, whereas this window will expand into the spring and autumn seasons for low-lying areas along the coast that are in close proximity to the city. For this reason, it is best to aim for the busy mid-summer season in order to explore a wide variety of terrain, or else narrow down your trip to specific areas that are suitable to hike in the shoulder seasons.
Other Outdoor Activities in Courtenay
As mentioned above, Courtenay’s location between the rugged interior of Strathcona Provincial Park and the vast expanse of the Strait of Georgia means that there is a wide variety of outdoor activities that can be sought out, both on and off the water. Fishing, boating, whale-watching, kayaking, and canoeing are all great water-based activities that can be done from the comfort of the city, and there are strong networks of hiking and mountain bike trails that fan out into the wilderness in all directions. In terms of winter sports, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and downhill skiing at the Mt. Washington Ski Resort are all great options to stay active during the colder times of the year.
Frequently Asked Questions About Courtenay
How far is Courtenay from Nanaimo?
By car, Courtenay is 67.1mi from Nanaimo, making for a 1h 15 minute drive between the two cities.
What is Courtenay known for?
Courtenay is known as a vibrant and growing city with strong cultural and culinary sectors. It also has a good reputation for its easy access to a wide variety of outdoor activities within the Comox Valley and along the coast, such as hiking, biking, skiing, and boating.Read More
The best hikes in Courtenay
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