I never know where I'm going to end up when I'm hiking. Sometimes I'll hear about a cool hike online or research a mountain that I want to climb and plan an excursion, but more often than not I just take a look through my Backroad Map Book, pick an interesting spot or peak, and drive until I find the nearest road and start walking. I've found some of my most favourite places this way, from hidden lakes to secret waterfalls to stunning lookout points. This weekend was no different. Nanaimo Lakes Road and Nanaimo River Road are two of my favourite starting points. There are countless roads branching off in every direction, with trails winding every which way sometimes leading to some really interesting places. For our hike this weekend we were on a bit of a time constraint, so we opted to just drive down Nanaimo River Road, park at a gated but un-marked pull-off, and hike around the river for a few hours. Much to our surprise, we ended up at an abandoned community park.
The sign said Nanaimo Canyon Community Park and looked new. There were half a dozen firepits throughout the large clearing, and remnants of an old cabin. We found out that it burned down years ago - however, we couldn't find any other info about the park, like when it was in operation, when it shut down, or if there are any future plans.
A quick Google search afterwards did turn up a bit of information. According to an agenda from a Regional District of Nanaimo meeting in October 2015, community officials walked the area, removed a rope swing, cleared some garbage, and installed the sign pictured above (which explains why it looks so new). However, I couldn't seem to find anything about the original park or the cabin. If anyone has any information about Nanaimo River Canyon Community park, please let me know because the curiosity is killing me! I've been asking around and haven't unearthed anything yet, but if I find out anything else I'll update here.
As far as the actual hiking bit, we followed a trail into the forest that ended up meandering along the river for a few kilometers before snaking back up through the woods and looping back to the road leading to where we parked.
There were lookout spots every few minutes along the trail, sometimes leading right down to the river but other times leading you atop a giant cliff looking down into the canyon.
As always, the dogs had a great time! Jetta even decided to go for a swim...no one else wanted to join her and I can't blame them. We're now left with the mystery of the campsite and a ton of questions. If anyone knows anything about the cabin or the park at all, leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you.