From Accessible Strolls to Mountain Trails

Whether you want to get out and enjoy a sunny summer’s day, or are equally happy braving a walk in our wetter weather, Nanaimo has an abundance of beautiful hiking trails to suit all abilities.

These notable hiking trails, all within about a 15-minute drive of downtown, take you through lush forests to incredible views that will leave you breathless.

Prettiest Waterfall – Ammonite Falls Trail

This remote forested trail of 4.5km ends with Nanaimo’s longest waterfall, Ammonite Falls. Recent upgrades to the trail, including a wooden viewing platform and staircase to the falls have greatly improved access.

Other waterfalls to walk to: Beach Estates Park, Bowen Park, Colliery Dam Park.

Most Historic Hike – Saysutshun Coastal Trail

Take a quick ferry from Maffeo-Sutton Park to Saysutshun Marine Provincial Park, an island and traditional Snuneymuxw First Nation territory. Hike the forested Coastal Trail (8 km), stopping at lookouts, beaches, and interpretive signs.

Highest Peak – Mount Benson Loop

This strenuous 8-km loop ascends to the 1,000-meter mountain summit for views over the city, backcountry, ocean and coast mountains. If this hike is too daunting, try hiking to these other ridge views stead: The Abyss Trail at Extension Ridge, Radar Ridge Trail at Linley Valley, Lantzville Lookout Loop.

Best for Sunrises & Sunsets – Neck Point & Pipers Lagoon

Easy coastal loop trails at Neck Point Park and Pipers Lagoon offer vast views of the ocean and mountains. Bring your swimsuit for a refreshing dip. Other sunrise/sunset views: Mt. Benson, Sugarloaf Mountain.

Best Dog Off-Leash – Cable Bay Trail

Follow this 6.6-km trail through towering forests to a surging narrow ocean pass and spots where sea lions haul out on the rocky shoreline or bark from logging booms. Other off-leash hiking areas include: Westwood Lake Park and Colliery Dam Park.

Best for Birdwatching – Buttertubs Marsh Trail

At dawn and dusk especially in summer, this flat gravel trail (2 km) encircling a marsh can sound like an aviary. Get a closer look with spotting scopes located on observation decks. Other birdwatching walks: Morrell Nature Sanctuary, Bowen Park.

Biggest Urban Wilderness – Linley Valley Trails

This 800-acre green space tucked between neighbourhoods in the middle of the city has a trail network with a lake, beaver ponds, creeks and ridges to climb for great views. Other urban wilderness walks: Beach Estates Park and Neck Point Park. 

** Know before you go. Plan your route on apps like Trailforks and AllTrails. Wear sensible shoes, dress in layers, and pack essentials like food, water and sunscreen.