We are always looking for new places to hike, especially areas with a reputation for being pretty spectacular, and this is 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 Cumberland Potholes are located in an area that is not very big; however, 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, pools carved out by the flowing water, unique shapes, deep colours, and 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 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). Many more hiking and biking trails surround the area if you wish to continue.

Wheelchair / Stroller Accessible?

While most of the trail is uphill, it is a well-maintained, very wide path that makes it stroller-friendly. However, please note, that walking around the Cumberland Potholes 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 dog-friendly. A sign at the trailhead states dogs must be on a leash, but many people ignore 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 pretty 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 in 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 regular 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, but it also brought great heartache. Two major mine explosions happened in the early 1920s. 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.

If you want to keep this post for future reference, don’t forget to save it to Pinterest!

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


  1. Thank you so much for the detailed and accurate directions on where to park and how to get there!! We are from Vancouver and went there for a visit. We were having trouble finding the place thanks to Google map and found your site which saved us from wandering around in circles. 1000x thanks! Will mention your site when writing my Google review. It was absolutely worth going!! The china bowls are so cool.

  2. We arrived to a closed road and had to change the plans in the last minute – went to Mt. Washington.

  3. Pingback: Destinations :: Cumberland, British Columbia - Expedition Portal

  4. Pingback: Best Nature Spots on Vancouver Island - Van Isle Marina

  5. Hey everybody, please note that if you are visiting the ‘Cumberland potholes’ during the summer months they are definitely not ok for swimming. The creek is fish bearing and the water is very low during the summer. Anyone entering the water would potentially be damaging a very sensitive water system. Enjoy the view!

  6. Jill Brown Reply

    I am dyslexic ! – Did you mean Comox LAKE road ?! thanks, I love your fa
    bulous site!!!

    • Yes, I would say Cumberland Potholes is more child-friendly than Trent River. There are no roped trails to contend with like there is at Trent River. The trail to the Cumberland Potholes is a nice easy trail. The only part you will need to be concerned with are the potholes themselves, as they can be very slippery. However, with a bit of extra caution, totally doable. We typically always hike with our kids, and they really enjoyed this one. (They would have been approximately 9 and 7 at the time we did this hike).

  7. In your ‘Getting There’ to the Cumberland potholes you mention “At the corner of Royston Road and Sutton Road, ” . Should it not be Dunsmuir and Sutton?

    • Royston turns into Dunsmuir, so you are quite right. By the time you get to Sutton, you are indeed on Dunsmuir. Thank you for the catch! I’ll update the post.

  8. Gwen Curry Reply

    Your site is beautiful. Under the title ‘While you are in the area’ you mention shipments of ‘high grade steam’. How can steam be shipped?

    • Ahhh! That would be a typo! There isn’t supposed to be an “and” in there. Thank you so much for noticing. It is all fixed up now.

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