Words by Guest Blogger Chris Istace
The days have become shorter
The air has become crisp and a bit cooler
The rain falls a little more often
The clouds and fog roll amongst the trees
To many on Vancouver Island this sounds perfect and signifies that Fall is in full swing outdoors. A time to celebrate the changing of the seasons. To welcome new experiences in familiar places.
Recently I was in Nanaimo for an all day event on a Saturday and new that I would want a break during my stay. I had stopped briefly at Westwood Lake in the summer and thought it would be nice to return for a longer visit.
Westwood Lake Park is centrally located in Nanaimo west of the Island Highway bypass at the foot of Mt Benson spanning over 129 hectares. Interestingly enough the lake is named for the Westwood family and the remnants of the farm that sit at the bottom from when the lake was created, The lake which is actually a reservoir was the result of damming the Darough Creek to power the hydroelectric plant in 1908. The power plant was eventually shut down and abandoned and the city turned it into a park in 1957.
This beautiful park managed by the city of Nanaimo has every amenity one could expect from one of the crown jewels in the cities park system. Beaches and floating docks for summer fun, playgrounds and picnic tables as well as fishing docks. The park is also listed as a great walk & run activity in the Natural Wonders section of the Travel Map and also a “Top Ten Activity” under the Paddles Up section.
The main draw and why I enjoyed it during my stop at the end of a very wet week is the well-maintained trail system the weaves its way around the lake. The 5.5 km trail is well groomed and offers a hard base as well as boardwalks and bridges that help users avoid dealing with mud often associated with more natural trails in the region.
The trail is probably the most used by runners in the city due to its great setting, wide path and groomed base. Not to be left out cyclists enjoy the trail system and mountain bikers often use it to link into Westwood Ridge. It is also a superb place to bring your dogs for a walk or run with you but do note that the trail is all on leash except for the south side of the lake where they can be off-leash along the power-line easement section.
The other big draw for the park is the great fishing amenities including a floating docks and all non-motorized boats are welcome on the lack. I would think this is a spectacular location to stand up paddle-board on a calm day right within the city limits. Easy quick access certainly is a draw for anglers and just this past month was restocked with 5500 rainbow trout.
I really enjoyed my break that day as I strolled around the park with my dog Echo. We walked along the shore of the beach where she wanted to join the Canadian geese swimming in the water badly, which I found a good laugh. We felt relaxed amongst the beauty of the park and all it had to offer.
If you ever find yourself looking for a quick getaway in Nanaimo, look no further than Westwood Lake Park.
‘Til next time,