Nanaimo hiking
Nanaimo hiking

hikes in Nanaimo

Region in British Columbia, Canada
Nanaimo Trail Map

Situated north of Victoria near the midpoint of the east coast of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is a beautiful city that once earned the nickname “Hub City” due to its centralized location and urban layout that resembled the spokes of a wheel. Now referred to as “The Harbour City” because of its excellent harbour and idyllic waterside location, Nanaimo often serves as a gateway to the rest of Vancouver Island for those coming from the mainland to explore its vast wilderness.

Stunning coastal views, access to nearby islands, and vast forests that stretch out towards the interior of the island all characterize the landscape around Nanaimo, making it a great area in its own right to enjoy the outdoors. Whether you are looking to explore the vibrant culture of the city and explore the hiking trails in close proximity or use it as a jumping off point to get to places like Tofino, Campbell River, or Port Alberni; the one thing that can be agreed upon is that Nanaimo and its surrounding area is definitely worth the visit if you are planning a hiking trip to the island.

The 10 Greatest Hikes In Nanaimo

With a city network of over 105.6mi of trails and a variety of other multi-use routes in the surrounding area, Nanaimo offers countless opportunities for hiking enthusiasts to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Whether you like to take brisk walks in a city park, family-friendly wildlife hikes along the rugged coast, or longer multi-day treks through the surrounding forests, Nanaimo is a great destination to start exploring the vast wilderness that is Vancouver Island. Check out this list of some of the top Nanaimo hikes that we’ve put together below:

  • Englishman River Falls Trail: This short hiking route is made up of well-maintained paths and absolutely stunning scenery, making it perfectly suitable for all ages and skill levels, including families with children. While out on the trail, you will pass through gorgeous forests, before arriving at a series of torrenting waterfalls.
  • Skutz Falls to 66 Mile Trestle: This fantastic trail near Duncan will take you along the Cowichan River for some stunning views of a railway trestle. Along the route, you will pass through charming forests and experience powerful waterfalls, before taking in the historic sights of the large wooden trestle. This is a great hike for the whole family.
  • Nanaimo River Trail: Hiking the Nanaimo River Trail is a quick adventure that will take you along the water’s edge for views of the forest. This is another great family-friendly route with low levels of foot traffic through the forest that will provide an almost magical atmosphere.
  • Neck Point Park Loop: Another short hike route along the coast, the Neck Point Park Loop will provide beautiful views across the Salish Sea to mainland BC. The opportunity to view various wildlife species makes this a great hike for all ages and skill levels.
  • Westwood Lake Trail: Located just west of Nanaimo, this trail will take you through a quiet stretch of woodland terrain for some scenic lakeside views. This is a great option to explore the outdoors without getting too far from the city.
  • Christie Falls: This 6.8km trail is a wonderful rainforest hike that will take you past mature trees to reach a beautiful waterfall. This is a great adventure to get acquainted with the vibrant and diverse temperate rainforests of the island.
  • Bings Creek Trail: Another trail near Duncan, this lollipop route will lead you through the forest on a path that can be difficult to navigate at times, with the ultimate reward being a charming waterfall. While route finding can be a bit tricky, the terrain itself isn’t really challenging, making this a great hike for most skill levels.
  • Piper's Lagoon Park: This hike is a short trek along the coast that will allow you to take in some gorgeous views of the Strait of Georgia. While on the trail, you will be able to spot seals lounging in the sun and a number of different bird species that inhabit the areas along the coast.
  • Bald Mountain: The Bald Mountain Hike is a good intermediate length trail that will provide some amazing views overlooking Cowichan Lake and the rugged landscape of Vancouver Island. The upper portions of the trail will require hikers to use their route finding skills to navigate an overgrown and lightly travelled path up the mountain.
  • Ammonite Falls Regional Trail: A popular route in the area, the Ammonite Falls Regional Trail is a beautiful forest walk that will lead you to a stunning waterfall. While the majority of the trail is suitable for hikers of all skill levels, anyone wishing to get right up to the edge of the water will need to utilize a rope installation to make a descent to the falls.

When is the Best Time to Hike in Nanaimo?

As with most of the areas on Vancouver Island, the summer months are the best time to hike in Nanaimo, although the window might be a little longer than some of the more rugged areas of the interior. During the May-October timeframe, trails should mostly be dry enough for you to get out and explore the natural beauty of the landscape without too much difficulty. This isn’t to say that you can’t get out and enjoy Nanaimo’s hiking routes year-round - in fact, many people prefer to do so to avoid the tourists that flock here during the summer - however, trail conditions will be the most favourable at this time.

Other Outdoor Activities in Nanaimo

With easy access to the Salish Sea, it’s a no-brainer that many of the amazing outdoor activities in Nanaimo revolve around getting out onto the water. With a wealth of adventures to be experienced while fishing, boating, paddle boarding, kayaking/canoeing, and whale-watching along this majestic body of water, fun is never more than a stone’s throw away from Nanaimo’s amazing harbour. And for those that are keen to keep their feet dry on land, there are plenty of other activities like mountain biking, golf, and disc golf that can be experienced in addition to the area’s great hiking routes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nanaimo

What is Nanaimo known for?

Known as “The Harbour City”, the history and growth of Nanaimo are strongly tied to maritime industries. This excellent harbour on the east coast of Vancouver Island has promoted growth in the shipping, trade, and fishing sectors, with the ferry to Horseshoe Bay also serving as a critical link to Vancouver on mainland BC.

How long is the ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo?

The ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo departs every 2 hours and takes approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes.

How long is the drive from Victoria to Nanaimo?

The road distance between Victoria and Nanaimo is 68.4mi, which makes for a roughly 1.5 hour drive.

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The best hikes in Nanaimo

Englishman River Falls Trail

01. Englishman River Falls Trail
Difficulty

0.8mi 171ft 0.5h

If you are looking for a quick and easy hiking route with amazing views near… Read More

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Ammonite Falls Regional Trail

02. Ammonite Falls Regional Trail
Difficulty

3.1mi 758ft 1.5-2h

The Ammonite Falls Regional Trail is a 3.1mi out-and-back hiking route west of… Read More

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Neck Point Park Loop

03. Neck Point Park Loop Trail
Difficulty

1.1mi 66ft 0.5h

The Neck Point Park Loop Trail follows a 1.1mi hiking circuit along the… Read More

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Westwood Lake Trail Map

04. Westwood Lake Trail
Difficulty

3.6mi 397ft 1.5-2h

The Westwood Lake Trail is a 3.6mi hiking circuit west of Nanaimo, BC… Read More

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Christie Falls

05. Christie Falls Trail
Difficulty

4.2mi 449ft 1.5-2h

The trek to Christie Falls follows a 4.2mi lollipop hiking route just outside… Read More

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Bings Creek Trail Map

06. Bings Creek Trail
Difficulty

2.9mi 889ft 1.5-2h

The Bings Creek Trail is a 2.9mi lollipop hiking route west of Duncan,… Read More

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Skutz Falls to 66 Mile Trestle

07. Skutz Falls to 66 Mile Trestle
Difficulty

4.3mi 466ft 1.5-2.5h

The Skutz Falls to 66 Mile Trestle trail is a 4.3mi hiking circuit… Read More

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Nanaimo River Trail

08. Nanaimo River Trail
Difficulty

1.7mi 46ft 0.5h

The Nanaimo River Trail follows a 1.7mi lollipop hiking route along the edge… Read More

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Piper’s Lagoon Park Trail

09. Piper’s Lagoon Park Trail
Difficulty

1.1mi 66ft 0.5h

The trek through Piper’s Lagoon Park follows a 1.1mi lollipop hiking route in… Read More

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Bald Mountain

10. Bald Mountain
Difficulty

6.5mi 1,545ft 3-4.5h

The trek up Bald Mountain is a 6.5mi out-and-back hiking route near Duncan,… Read More

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Yes, there are more than 10

Nanaimo is so beautiful that we can not give you only 10 hikes. So here is a list of bonus hikes in Nanaimo that you should take a look at as well

Benson Creek Falls Trail Map

11. Benson Creek Falls Trail
Difficulty

1.8mi 394ft 1h

The Benson Creek Falls trail is a 1.8mi out-and-back hiking route near Nanaimo,… Read More

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Living Forest River Walk

12. Living Forest River Walk
Difficulty

2.2mi 82ft 0.5-1h

The Living Forest River Walk is a wonderfully scenic out-and-back trail in Nanaimo that will… Read More

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Crystal and McKay Lakes Loop Trail Map

13. Crystal and McKay Lakes Loop Trail
Difficulty

4.1mi 499ft 1.5-2h

The Crystal and McKay Lakes Loop Trail is a 4.1mi hiking circuit southwest… Read More

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Robertson River Falls Trail Map

14. Robertson River Falls Trail
Difficulty

5.0mi 449ft 2-2.5h

The Robertson River Falls Trail is an 5.0mi out-and-back hiking route in the… Read More

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Fuller Lake Arena Grounds Trail Map

15. Fuller Lake Arena Grounds Trail
Difficulty

2.1mi 138ft 0.5-1h

Hiking the Fuller Lake Arena Grounds will take you on a 2.1mi hiking… Read More

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Mount Prevost Trail Map

16. Mount Prevost Trail
Difficulty

7.4mi 2,431ft 4-6h

The trek up Mount Prevost follows an 7.4mi lollipop hiking route that climbs… Read More

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Notch Hill

17. Notch Hill Loop
Difficulty

1.8mi 669ft 1-1.5h

The Notch Hill Loop is a 1.8mi lollipop hiking route northwest of Nanaimo,… Read More

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Chemainus River Estuary

18. Chemainus River Estuary Hike
Difficulty

1.7mi 49ft 0.5h

The Chemainus River Estuary Trail is a 1.7mi out-and-back hiking route south of… Read More

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Holland Creek Trail Map

19. Holland Creek Trail
Difficulty

4.1mi 604ft 1.5-2.5h

The Holland Creek Trail is a 4.1mi hiking circuit in Ladysmith, BC, that… Read More

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Heart Lake Trail

20. Heart Lake Loop Trail
Difficulty

6.3mi 1,171ft 3-4h

The Heart Lake Loop Trail is a 6.3mi lollipop hiking route in Ladysmith,… Read More

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Newcastle Island Bates Trail

21. Newcastle Island Bates Trail
Difficulty

6.4mi 509ft 2.5-3h

The Newcastle Island Bates Trail is a 6.4mi lollipop hiking route just off… Read More

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