Thursday, September 1, 2016

Century Sam Lake - Vancouver Island's most popular hike [Summer 2016]

Undoubtedly the most popular hike on Vancouver Island this summer has been Century Sam Lake, and for good reason! Situated below the Comox Glacier, surrounded by mountains, a lake so blue you wouldn't believe it unless you saw it with your own eyes and ice caves (fast melting) to marvel at.

The Vancouver Island outdoor community has grown in the past year due to both social media connections and Facebook groups that help get like minded people out together.  Not a day goes by where my feed on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is not flooded with gorgeous views of Vancouver Island hiking destinations and positive comments encouraging others to get out and see for themselves.  It was the sharing pictures of Century Sam Lake thru these channels that sparked a near traffic jam of hikers every weekend in July and early August to this beauty of a place. (2016)

For years Century Sam Lake has been on our list of places to hike. Same with Comox Glacier, which is accessed via the same trailhead. No real reason as to why it took us so long to get there but finally we made it happen. What made it even better was taking some friends from Germany with us. Needless to say, they absolutely loved the hike! (whats up with my creepy smile?) haha

Trail info:

Distance approximately 4km from trailhead to the lake. Depending on where you park on the last section of logging road, you may have to hike a bit more to get to trailhead. In 2016, the final section of road had been upgraded due to falling tree activity in the area. We were able to park less than 1km from the trailhead but this can change year to year.

The trail is well marked and beaten. Elevation gained on the hike is 610m. Most of the hike takes you through treed terrain, some muddy/slipperly sections with the final approach to the lake wide open along a rocky surface with mountain views. Hiking time on the trail reported to be anywhere between and hour to 2 hours, pending your speed. Our time to the lake was just under 2 hours but we stopped to feast on salmon berries (a few times).

Allow plenty of time for this hike. We left Nanaimo at 8am and returned home at 8pm. Want to add to the whole hiking experience? I recommend heading into Cumberland after the hike and hitting either the Cumberland Brewery or Riders Pizza for a post hike bevy and meal. Nothing better than sharing trail stories with family and friends over beer and pizza! It is a well deserved feast!

Trail Preparedness:

A few things to note about this hike. Access to the trailhead is very limited and quite often the road is closed in the summer. Otherwise it is a weekend only hiking destination. Check Island Timberlands blog for road closures. Look for status of Comox Main. (As of Aug 17, 2016 road closed)

I would consider this a remote backcountry hike due to how far it takes to travel on logging roads to get there. There is no cell coverage on the trail or for the majority of the drive so proper research ahead of time and being prepared is a good idea. Prepared means packing the 10 essentials and knowing how to use them. North Shore Rescue has a what to bring list should you need more info. Another great resource to review ahead of time is the Leave No Trace Principles. Together we can all do our part to keep our wild spaces wild. 

Trip Report:

We hiked to Century Sam Lake mid July. Berries were abundant, bugs minimal, and trail well used. The trail was super busy. Everyone and their dog were there! Had to be at least 40 people milling about at the lake and ice-field while we were there. Not the normal amount of hikers we would see on hikes but that speaks to just how popular this hike has been this summer (2016). It was hard to get a picture without someone else in it!

Highlights of the hike include some of my crew swimming in the lake, a quick swim! First time adventure girl did not swim, although she contemplated it for a long time.

We enjoyed lunch on a cliff above the lake listening to one of the German gals play guitar. That was cool! 

Then we explored further towards the ice-fields and checked out the ice caves, which are melting fast. We did not go in the ice caves but checked out the entrance a bit. The day after I took the shot below, the ice bridge collapsed.

Trailhead Directions: 

Starting at Bevan Road off of Cumberland Road, it is 33 km to the trailhead, About 25km of it on logging roads. Comox Main travels along the west side of Comox Lake. Turn right onto Cruikshank Road (after bridge) and turn left when the road forks. About 10 mins or so after that there is a sign for Comox Glacier (same trail head as Century Sam), keep right. The road from here was passable during the summer of 2016. Other years it required 4x4 and high clearance vehicles. We drove in a Hyundai Santa Fe. Park well off the road leaving room for other vehicles to pass.

Additional Info:

Century Sam Lake is a stunning emerald green color. Our German friends were convinced the Canadian Government adds dye to the lakes. :) How else could they get to be so beautiful? The true story is the Canadian Government adds silt. (hee hee) All kidding aside, the silt is created when rocks underneath the surface of the ice are grinding from the movement of the glacier. This "rock flour" is very light and stays suspended in the lake water for a long time. The sunlight that reflects off this rock flour is what gives the lakes their spectacular turquoise blue or emerald green colour. Simple.

A bit of history on the naming of Century Sam. There is a stone cairn at the lake that shares some history.  I forgot to take a photo of it but came upon the words so will share that with you. You will have to take the photo of the cairn yourself. 

“Honouring Sid Williams of Courtenay, who played the role of ‘Century Sam’, the old prospector, during our 1958 British Columbia Centennial celebrations. Sid was an actor and comedian, a tireless volunteer who enriched the community. In 1984, he was awarded the Order of Canada for his lifetime of irrepressible humour and his service to others. Sid was also a keen hiker and skier who loved these mountains. Remembered by family and friends. 1992.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Trail Running the Forbidden Plateau Traverse

Making time for Joel and I to adventure together is just as important as our family adventures but those spare days are hard to come by. So when an opportunity presented itself, I quickly got all my ducks in order and planned a surprise adventure for just us. First I had to make sure camp Grandpa was available so the kids had somewhere to go. Then I had to weigh out my trail options based on distance, weather, travel time, logistics, and wow factor. Next was making sure Joel had no commitments on his upcoming days off that I was unaware of without giving away my true intentions. Happy to report it all worked out beautifully.

Our 24 hour adventure was trail running the Plateau Traverse, a 28km route from Paradise Meadows to Wood Mt. Check out Strathcona Prov. Parks Map to see route. With everything all set to go we hit the road Sunday evening and headed to Wood Mt. Ski hill where we spent the night "car" camping.

The biggest obstacle with trail running or hiking a traverse is shuttling either cars or people to the trailheads. Luckily, a friends Mom and her boyfriend were able to pick us up from Wood Mt. and drive us up to Mt. Washington early Monday morning. A big thanks to them for taking the time to help us out. [They ended up hiking the Circlet Lake loop so it was a win win for all!]

Quick trip report info:

We ran/trotted/hiked from Paradise Meadows (trailhead at Raven Lodge on Mt. Washington) to the parking lot of Wood Mt. (what used to be the Old Forbidden Plateau ski hill at the end of Forbidden Plateau Road near Courtenay)

The Plateau Traverse follows the route towards Kwai Lake. Trail and sign to Murray Meadows (just before reaching Kwai Lake) is where traverse begins. 

Strathcona Prov. Park signs state the trail is no longer maintained but old signs still exist along the route along with signs put up by the Comox District Mountaineering Club.

Trail is still evident, slightly overgrown in some parts, but easy to follow. We did research and informed ourselves about the route ahead of time. We did not use any GPS tracks to follow route but did use some navigating apps on our phones to track our route and collect data as we went. Also played around with a friends inReach device but that was just for fun. Surprisingly, there was cell coverage here and there along the route. 

Distance 28km with 730m of elevation. Our moving time (mostly running) was 4:08 and total time on the trail was about 6 hours. (started at 9:15am and ended at 3:30pm) Trail has a mix of dirt paths, small creek crossings, rock and rooty sections, creek bed trails, and wet muddy meadows to cross. 

Weather was ideal for trail running. High of 17C, cloudy and a chance of afternoon showers. A perfect trail to take on when the weather does not allow for scenic hikes on mountains. 

Adventure Report:

Before we even started the run I was experiencing some serious nerves. What is is about thru hikes and traverses that gets me all worked up? The feeling of being left at a trail and having to get myself back to the safety and security of the car completely overwhelms me. Within minutes of running it passes, thankfully. 

The run starts off on boardwalk and transitions to a dirt path as we made our way along Battleship Lake and past Lake Helen MacKenzie. The roots and rock begin to take over the path and soon we are trotting along, huffing and puffing our way to the Murray meadows connector trail. 

No trail run is complete without challenges. Joel spraining his ankle was our first challenge. Thankfully some meds and a quick taping of the ankle seemed to do the trick. Our pace slowed from here on out but we were in no hurry. Stopping was not really an option due to the bugs. Murray Meadows, as beautiful as it was, makes for a great bug breeding area.

The reprieve from bugs came as the trail took us through a forested area between Panther Lake and Johnson Lake. That gave us an opportunity to refuel and continue our run to McKenzie Meadow and McKenzie Lake. 

What are the odds of spraining your ankle again? Yip...seems Joel has bad luck. That little set back had us hiking for a bit but we were back running in no time. Not much stops my guy :)

Likely the best part of the run was making our way across McKenzie Meadow to check out the campsite at McKenzie Lake. At this point we were still avoiding water and puddles but once your feet get wet, it does not much matter anymore. Lots of laughs as we continued to slosh our way back out. 

From McKenzie Lake to Wood Mt. parking lot is 11km. Things went well for the next 4km as we passed Drabble Lakes and it was about here when things started to take a toll. I could tell Joel's ankle was bothering him based on the way he was running. Blisters were starting to cause me discomfort so a quick blister busting treatment was required. 

The afternoon rain that was in the forecast did indeed begin and things were suddenly not so fun anymore. We trotted along for about another 3km and on the final descent from the Mt. Becher connector trail to the parking lot we hiked because running was too painful. The rocky rough trail down was not well liked by Joel's ankle, our knees, or my blisters. But we made it and even through all the discomfort in the final km's we ended with smiles on our faces and had the most amazing time sharing it all with each other. 

What we packed:

We each had our own 2L hydration bag and pack, raincoats, tech type long sleeve shirt and t-shirt, running shorts of our choice, hat or buff, emergency blanket, headlamp, cell phone, trail running shoes, and one of us had the proper kind of running socks. May explain why I got blisters...but mine looked cooler! ;)

In our packs - a life straw, water treatment tablets, battery charger, gopro, inReach device, spare batteries for headlamps, pocket knife, lighter, tylonel and ibuprofen, tensor band, medical tape, gauze, bandaids (but not enough. Always check and restock before hand. Whoops) some other basic first aid supplies and a whistle.

Food - cliff bars, shot bloks, chocolate bars, dried fruit, fruit bars, nut bars, peanut butter and honey wrap, and boiled mini potatoes drizzled in butter and salt. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Guest Post - Making the Transition from Backcountry Wanderers to Camping Parents - Matthew Lettington

I am so excited to be sharing my first ever guest blogger here at On The Beaten Path.  I have followed Matthew Lettington online for a few years now; finding inspiration in his solo adventuring pursuits and then to see his adventures continue as he entered into parenthood.  His images are simply amazing, his passion for exploring Vancouver Island is inspiring and he writes a pretty sweet blog that blends the two together.  Matthew and I speak regularly via social media and we have met over coffee where adventure and blogging were the topics of conversation. I look forward to many more chats over coffee and friendship. I know you will love his blog, his trip reports, his candid take on adventuring with kids, and his passion for bushwhacking. (I swear it is one of his passions)

You can find Matthew Lettington at explorington.com
On Instagram @explorington
On Twitter @explorington

I asked Matthew to share a bit about how he made the transition from adventuring without kids to adventuring with kids. He shares some great information. Enjoy the read!

I’m outdoorsy. There, I’ve said it! I frequently smell of pine needles and sodden earth, and I accept this as a result of my love for the outdoors. I’ve had an active outdoor lifestyle for a long time, and my body is permanently changed from my activities: I have scars from bushwhacking, knee pain from the time I dislocated my patella on the Juan de Fuca Trail, and various other marks from sticks and rocks hitting me. When my first child arrived, I was worried that my outdoorsy days were done - but I’m stubborn: I worked to find ways to include my growing family in my adventures. Below, I’ve collected a few of my strategies to share with you.

A Willing and Forgiving Partner
The single biggest secret to my backcountry success is my wife! She enjoys camping and backpacking, though not as much as I do. We work as a team, and we need each other more on the trail than we do at home. We rely on each other to help get backpacks on and off, give snacks to our son while he is in the carrier, and pick up dropped items. I can’t imagine heading into the backcountry without her support.

The Right Location
I enjoy my personal adventures, and I’m not averse to hiking 30 or 40 kilometres in a day to get the job done. However, this isn’t a realistic expectation when carrying a child. Instead, I seek backcountry routes that offer the out there experience, combined with a short approach.
There are numerous adventures on Vancouver Island that offer this; my two favourites are Keeha Bay and Tapaltos Beach. They are close together, and offer excellent beach adventures and opportunities to explore. Flores Island’s Wildside Trail is another great option: it’s mostly beach walking, so you can stop almost anywhere to camp!

Pick locations where you can have a fire. Not only is campfire time an awesome bonding experience, but it allows for fun traditions such as s’mores and cooking on a stick! Also, you’ll want the warmth of that fire when it comes time for changing diapers.

The Right Backpack
If you pride yourself on your sixty-five-pound backpack, the transition to camping with a child is going to be a big struggle. I gave up that nonsense a few years back; now I follow a pack-light philosophy. Even on my solo adventures, my kit weighs under 25 pounds for a seven-day coastal adventure.
With my son, we use a combination backpack carrier. I can pack for two nights and load him into the backpack, while keeping the weight under 55 pounds. I know that’s a lot, but we bring a few luxuries with us, and we plan our adventures around frequent stops, snack times, and the goal that Hemingway will walk some of the easy sections.

Tip: tie a toy to the backpack. It gives him or her something to play with or chew on. The string will be a blessing for you because you can just haul on the string to retrieve the toy when it is inevitably dropped.

Bring lots of fun snacks. We eat all kinds of foods on the trail that we would never eat at home; it becomes part of the tradition of camping. Heading out into the backcountry and eating chocolate-covered granola bars gives kids something to look forward to! Those processed snacks offer a real feature, too: the packaging! It may not be environmentally friendly, but having individually-wrapped snack bars means you don’t need to worry about water or dirt getting into your food. If you want something less processed, try nuts with yogurt chips. Hemingway loves them!

Tip: Have your snacks at the ready. Kids get hangry!

Goodnight to Bedtime
I give up on bedtime while we are camping. At first we tried to keep our at home routines, but this didn’t work. Now, we wait until dark and go to bed together. There’s less complaining, and no worrying about our son unzipping the tent and wandering off into the woods.

Camping is in tents
You’re going to need three tents, but not all at once. Buy a light three-person tent, first. Although it may only take one person to change a diaper, it’s a lot more challenging in a tent. Be a team, lend a hand! If you have two children, they may not co-sleep well. If this is the case, consider bringing two 2-person tents. Each parent can share a tent with one child; as the family matures, the kids can bunk together.

It’s all in the bag
There is an entire philosophy around sleep systems. When teaching my son to sleep in a tent, I use the philosophy I follow myself: don’t get inside your sleeping bag. Whatever you use for your cover-up, be it a blanket, a sleep sack, or a proper down bag, just lay it on top of yourself. The most important thing to know is that pee flows with gravity. Not only is a blanket underneath him or her doing nothing to keep them warm, it’ll get wet.
In the summer we don’t even need a sleeping bag, just a child’s fleece blanket. But when it comes to camping in the shoulder season, we bring a proper sleeping bag rated for zero-degree weather.

Tip: Leave the onesies at home; bring fleece pants and sweaters. When the temperature drops, you don’t want a naked baby when you’re changing a diaper.

A Crappy Topic
There’s no getting away from it: camping with children means diapers. We follow the “pack it in, pack it out” philosophy, but used diapers get heavy! Fortunately, we found a solution: compostable diapers. Look for ones that are made from natural products, as they burn better. Whatever you do, do not put the diapers into the pit toilet. They require mechanical agitation to decompose.

Tip: Free-willy! It’s okay for small children to go bottomless as they run in the sand. Just make sure to put sunscreen everywhere!

Feeding the Milk Monster
Our little guy needs his milk! Camping with an infant was easy, as Mom brought the milk. But now that breastfeeding is finished, we’ve switched to cow’s milk. At first we tried powdered milk, but it has a different taste; it took a few weeks of trying it at home to get him used to it. Although we still use powdered milk for our long trips, now we bring small cartons of milk and cut it with water to double or triple the volume. As a note, two 250ml containers works better than one 500ml container.
Tip: don’t forget to bring a nip-clip! We use a bulldog clip from home to clip the nipple. That way when the bottle falls over, the milk doesn’t leak everywhere.

Bring Some Toys
Bringing an assortment of toys and books gives little ones something to do if weather rolls in. Hemingway transitions between activities quickly, and he needs lots of options for play. He’s obsessed with toy cars, so we bring a few each time we go out. He always finds creative ways to use the toys at the campsite.
A good set of collected stories has saved our bacon more than once! It’s tiring work chasing our little guy down the beach, and the only time we get to sit is when we are reading stories. It’s definitely worth the effort!
There are certain times where we just need Hemingway to sit. It may be when we are lost and trying to navigate, working to help each other out of a mud pit, or dealing with a crisis. When we need him to just sit and focus on something, we have a complement of photographs for him to look at on our phones.

Have Patience
It’s going to get tough. You’ll be hot, tired, and thirsty – and so will the kids. Remember, be patient! A little love goes a long way. Work with your child’s strengths, and play with them. Every kid is different!

The Harsh Reality
It’s not going to be fun all the time. There is going to be crying, probably in your ear. Stuff is going to get wet, and maybe even pee-soaked. Get used to dirt, because everyone is going to get dirty. Lastly, remember: it’s a work in progress. Reflect on your successes, and improve in areas that gave you frustration.

If you don’t think backpacking is for you and your kids, consider kayaking or canoeing! My suggestions still apply on the water, but it’s a more relaxing environment. Kayaks offer amazing storage capacity, and there is no need to fit everything into a backpack and haul it around.

Matthew Lettington

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Rosseau Route to Mt. Cokely - Family hike to finish off 3rd summit in the Arrowsmith Biosphere Region

Hiking to the summit of Mt. Cokely as a family marked the third and last peak within the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region to cross off our list.  It was way back in 2013 when we hiked up Mount Moriarity and then in 2014 to the summit of Mt. Arrowsmith via Judges Route. Each offer something different and are three Vancouver Island peaks that should be on your list of hikes to do!

Summit of Mount Moriarity with Mt. Arrowsmith (center) and Mt. Cokely (further back and right) far off in the distance.

Top of Mt. Arrowsmith with beautiful views of the Strait of Georgia and BC's Coastal Mountains in the far distance.

We chose to hike Mt. Cokely via the Rosseau Route but there are other ways of reaching the summit, which I will mention shortly. We found this route to be both challenging and fun.  It offers an up-close and personal view of Mt. Arrowsmith, has some scrambling with exposure, and panoramic views while hiking for that added wow factor.

The always stunning Mt. Arrowsmith seen from the summit of Mt. Cokley

Distance: 3.2km trailhead to summit (total distance approx. 6km)
Time: We made it to the summit in 2 hrs 50mins but that was with plenty of time spent playing in the snow fields, snowball fights, snack breaks, and just taking in the views.  It can easily be done faster but why rush the experience? Enjoy the rewards along the way.

Trail Use: The Rosseau Route is moderate hiking with some class 3 scramble.  What is Class 3? The Yosemite Decimal System rates difficulty of hikes and climbs. Class 3 is defined as scrambling with increased exposure. Handholds are necessary. A rope should be available for learning climbers, or if you just choose to use one that day, but is usually not required.

Ropes are not required but we took the opportunity to practice.

You can also hike up the Saddle between Mt. Cokely and Mt. Arrowsmith (trailhead just before Rosseau Route) and scramble up to the Cokely ridge and return via Rosseau Route.  Nice loop and about the same distance as in and out on the Rosseau Route.  Both routes are accessible year round (pending snow conditions and gate closures) and crampons, snowshoes, and ice axe may be required.  You can also access Mt. Cokely summit via the CPR trail at Cameron Lake up the north slope of Mt. Cokely.  For winter and early spring, ice axe, crampons/snowshoes would be required.  This route would be aprox. 20km round trip.

Trail Prepardness: In the past few years, access to Cameron Main and Pass Main logging roads have been closed due to dry conditions during the summer. Highly recommend hiking the Rosseau Route in early spring or in the fall. Check Island Timberlands blog for updated gate closures.

There is cell coverage along the entire route but that should never take away from being prepared with the 10 essentials in your pack. Check out North Shore Rescue on what to bring. Mountain weather can change faster than what usually happens at home. For this type of hike, both Joel and I carry packs with the 10 essentials plus more. Ben and Liv also carry their own packs with most of the essentials and know how to use what they have. If for some reason any of us were to become separated from the group, the items in our pack are there just in case.

On this hike I played around a bit with some videos and put together a short clip that really shows off the beauty of this hike. The music is a bit corny, work in progress. (click on video to open or play)

Trail Description: Gaining 675m elevation in just over 3km to summit.  Beginning of the trail is a single track dirt path up through trees and follows along the base of a cliff. Within about 1km you will begin scrambling up the ridge where full views of Mt. Arrowsmith, Alberni Valley, mainland mountains and the ocean surround you.  The route has three areas where the scramble has some exposure but has plenty of good hand and foot holds to get you through it. Once on the ridge, the trail is easy to follow with rock cairns or flagging tape to guide you. The route is pretty straight forward – keep to the middle of the ridge.

Route follows the ridge on the left, above the snow line, and to the far left peak.

One thing to note, when reaching the ridge after the first scramble (when you are scrambling out of the trees and into the open). Look around and pay attention where you are coming up from.  There may be a tree marked with blue flagging tape (was for us) and this is where you need to scramble back down in order to return via the forested trail. If you continue past and keep walking back along the ridge, you will find yourself either having to back track or negotiate some steep cliffs.

Trip Report: What else can I say about this hike? The hike had the added challenge with the scrambles, the weather was perfect - warm and clear. Conditions were ideal and being Mother's Day just made the day more special. I asked Joel and the kids to tell me what their favorite part of the hike was. Their take on the day goes as follows:

Ben was a big fan of the snowfields. Ever patch we came upon sparked yet another snowball fight.
Liv loves to climb so it was no surprise that she enjoyed the scrambling. Here she is motoring up the first scramble.
Open views early on and the added challenge of scrambles on the hike is what Joel liked best. He seems to like capturing our pain as well.
My favorite moment is capturing our usual family shot. I never know what kind of mood we will be in but always love the family shot. Memories I will cherish forever.

Trailhead Directions: Access Loon Lake Main just before Port Alberni (travelling west) on Hwy 4. Follow Loon Lake Main to Cameron Main and turn left. Then turn left on to Pass Main. About 8km up Pass Main is where you want to park. There is an old "getting to be grown over" road on the right that is the trailhead. Note: The Saddle Route trailhead is just before the Rosseau Route trailhead. The logging roads are all well used and manageable with most cars. As with most logging roads, there are rough spots but steady as she goes will work just fine. 4x4 not required. We drove in a Hyundai Santa Fe. 

Trail Map: 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Trail Spotlight - Explore Nanaimo's Colliery Dam and beyond

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive commission if you make a purchase using a link.

A while back I had written a blog about 17 waterfalls along the East Coast of Central Vancouver Island and was blown away with the positive response from outdoor enthusiasts who found it to be a great resource for places to hike and explore. If you read that blog you will know that there were a few of the waterfalls on the list that I had not been to myself so I figured it was time to get out there and go see them firsthand.

I have lived in the Nanaimo area for over 9 years now and like so many other locals, have not been to Chase River Falls, just west of the official Colliery Dam Park trail system. So often I seek out areas to explore outside my own backyard to fulfil my desire for adventure and to immerse myself in the beauty of Vancouver Island but found this little afternoon stroll to be just as rewarding. Beyond the usual beaten paths are trails to explore and treasures to find. Worthy of a Trail Spotlight.

Trail Use: Easy Hiking and Trail Running

Description: The trails are a mix of paved, groomed gravel, boardwalk, bridges, and single track. Forested trails around two lakes and close to 3km of trail in the park. The trails within Colliery Dam Park are easy to travel. Past Chase River Falls the trail is more of a single track with roots and some elevation but overall is quite easy.

Directions: Parking lots off of Nanaimo Lakes Road and corner of Wakesiah Ave and 6th St. Can also park on the side of Harewood Mines Road.

Maps: Parts of Colliery Dam Park is an off leash dog area. Check out the Colliery Dam Map for trails and off leash areas within the park. Trail to Chase River Falls and beyond not part of map. To see more trails and how Colliery connects with Morrell Nature Sanctuary, Westwood Ridges, and the Abyss (Extension Ridge) try Trail Forks - Westwood Mountain Bike Trails map. Possibilities are endless.

Our Trip Report: I spent an afternoon exploring Chase River Falls and beyond, outside of the parks trail system, for a couple hours at a leisurely pace. Perfect for when time does not permit out of town day long hikes. What I found most appealing about exploring Colliery Dam Park was the fun factor for the kids. It is not a grand hike as far as elevation or a technically challenging trail but it does reward the kids with "cool to them" features along the way.

Kids love tunnels. To get to the Chase River waterfall you have to cross under highway 19.

Everyone loves waterfalls, even the kids.

Stunning landscape features.

Wild playground

Forest critters

Things to pack: For a leisurely city hike like this I suggest plenty of snacks or a lunch just to extend the experience a bit further, something I like to call fresh air feasting.  Trail side lunches are my favorite! Wondering about footwear? I recommend KEEN.

Check out a few of our favorite KEEN's over the years.

Disclosure: I am a Brand Ambassador for KEEN Canada and receive free shoes from them to try. I like the durability and function of their hiking shoes for both me and the kids. Opinions are my own.