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We are always looking for new places to hike, especially to areas that have a reputation of being pretty spectacular. This is most definitely the case with the Cumberland Potholes.

Otherwise known as Perseverance Potholes (because they are located on Perseverance Creek), or China Bowls, images of this magical area have been gracing my Facebook feed for quite some time.  It was definitely at the top of my list of places to go.

The Cumberland Potholes is a hidden gem on Vancouver Island one should not miss out on!

What to Expect

The area where the Cumberland Potholes are located is not a very big area to explore (although the surrounding trails are extensive). However, the dramatic landscape and topography of the potholes make the hike so worthwhile.

While you are there make sure to take notice of your surroundings. Notice the smoothness of the rocks, the pools carved out by the flowing water, the unique shapes, the deep colours, and the dark and intriguing crevices. And let’s not forget, the peaceful beauty of it all!

This hidden gem, tucked into the forests surrounding Cumberland, should definitely not be missed.

Images are a much better way to describe the area, which is why I put together this short video.

Getting There

  • Take the Cumberland exit, and start heading towards Comox Lake.
  • At the corner of Dunsmuir Avenue (which is also Royston Road) and Sutton Road, there is a large gravel parking lot (parking for the Cumberland Recreation Centre). You can park here and walk the few hundred metres or so to the trailhead; OR, park just after the 90° corner (where Sutton Road becomes Comox Lake Road) on the side of the road (bringing you closest to the trailhead).
  • Walk through the yellow gate and enter a large system of biking and hiking trails.
  • At the sign, turn right and head up the hill.
  • You will pass through a forested area, as well as a clear-cut area (approximately 1 km from the sign at the bottom).
  • When you get back into another forested area (after the clear-cut), stay right (there will be quite a few trails veering off to your left).
  • When you get to the bridge, take the trail on either side and head downstream a bit.
  • You have arrived!

Length of Trail

The hike to the Cumberland Potholes is approximately 2 km (one way). There are many more hiking and/or biking trails surrounding the area if you wish to continue on.

Wheelchair / Stroller Accessible?

While the majority of the trail is uphill, the fact that it is a well-maintained very wide path makes it stroller friendly. However please note, walking around the Cumberland Potholes definitely requires sure footing. The rocks are very slippery, and there are a few really deep pools. Please watch your children at all times.


The trail leading up to the Cumberland Potholes is definitely dog-friendly. There is a sign at the trailhead which states dogs must be on a leash, but many people ignored this rule. However as mentioned above, once at the Potholes the area is extremely slippery. And if you are continuing downstream, it requires a lot of scampering and jumping across rocks, some of which are quite steep.

More Hidden Gems

If you like this hike, we have many more hidden gems to share with you!

In our Hidden Gems of Vancouver Island e-book, you’ll discover over 20 hidden gems around the Mid-Island. You can check it out here:

Hidden Gems of Vancouver Island E-book

Or, better yet, if you want to explore those areas that are even MORE hidden and off the beaten track (like these potholes), then check out our Exclusive Membership Area.

The Japanese and Chinese cemeteries in Cumberland shows the rich history of the area.

While you are in Cumberland

It would be a shame to be in Cumberland and not wander around the village to take in the local sights.

Founded in 1888, early settlement to Cumberland was due to the coal mines. Miners and their families came from across North America, Europe, China and Japan to reap the benefits of the steady shipments of high-grade steam coal. The area became home to the fifth-largest Chinese settlement in BC.

Not only did the coal mine bring a profit to both the town and its workers, it also brought great heartache. Two major mine explosions happened in the early 1920’s. The first, in August 1922, killed 13 men; while the second, less than six months later (Feb. 1923), killed 33 men.

At the Japanese and Chinese Cemeteries, you can find the tombstones of many of the victims clustered together.

Today Cumberland is a vibrant community built on outdoor recreation, and is known as a legendary mountain biking area. The village is surrounded by many parks and an abundance of trails.

The Village of Cumberland

The storefronts in Cumberland are an eclectic mix of cute shops and restaurants.

To recharge your body after hitting those trails, we recommend the following stops:

The Wandering Moose Cafe is located on the corner of Dunsmuir and Third in what used to be the Old Post Office building. They specialize in coffee, tea, baked goods, gelato, breakfast sandwiches and an assortment of lunch items.  Make sure to try their “B’egg’le”.

Riders Pizza is also located on Dunsmuir (right across the street from The Wandering Moose Cafe), and specializes in pizza (by the slice or whole), salads, and desserts. You can take out or dine in. We tried three different slices of their pizza, and loved them all!

Cumberland Brewing Company is also located on Dunsmuir, and is an absolute MUST when in the area. They have delicious fresh food, and it is the perfect place to gather for a drink after your day exploring the area.

So tell me, have you spent any time in Cumberland? And more specifically, at the Cumberland Potholes? Let me know your thoughts about either location in the comments below.

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The Cumberland Potholes are a unique hidden gem on Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island View