However small the town of Parksville is, we are incredibly lucky to have so much green space to explore. This article showcases Parksville’s best parks and trails.
Rathtrevor Provincial Park
Marked as one of Vancouver Island’s premier vacation destinations, Rathtrevor is definitely a Parksville gem. This beachfront property has 5.5 km’s of trails to meander. You’ll find majestic old-growth trees, beautiful ocean views and a wide sandy beach that recedes almost a kilometre at low tide.
The Rathtrevor Beach Path is a 4.3-kilometre level out and back trail. Or, you can make a full 3.5 km circle route by walking back through the campground. Dogs are able to use this trail but must be kept on a leash. The flat trail is accessible to wheelchairs and/or strollers of all sizes.
To find out more about this park, read: Rathtrevor Park
Rathtrevor Park is conveniently located off of Highway 19. Take exit 51 from the Inland Island Highway (Hwy 19) and follow signs to the park. The official address is 1240 Rath Road.
Top Bridge is one of my favourite areas to explore (especially because it’s so easily accessible from my house). The magnificent suspension bridge spans the beautiful Englishman River and connects many fantastic walking and biking trails, all in varying lengths. It’s also the perfect place to just sit and enjoy the view, swim in the many refreshing pools, or fish for salmon in the river.
There are so many trails at this park, that although we’ve been countless times, I still end up finding something new each time we go. And the unique topography in the park never ceases to amaze me.
If you love geocaching, this park has a ton!
Head towards the weigh scales on Highway 19A, and continue past the four-way stop which puts you onto Kaye Road. Turn right onto Chattel Road and continue to the end. You will see the suspension bridge from the large parking area.
Englishman River Regional Park
This lovely park along the beautiful Englishman River is attached by a trail system to Top Bridge (above). However, in order to walk from the start of one park to the end of the other is approximately 10+ km. Instead, start in the middle or the end of Englishman River Park for a whole new vantage point!
The RDN states access to this park is off of Allsbrook, which it is…however, this puts you very close to Top Bridge. If you are starting at Allsbrook and head left, you’ll come to the suspension bridge. So I advise going right instead and following the river upstream.
Better yet, head into Errington and park at the end of Middlegate where you’ll find many trails that surround the Englishman River. Again, this is a great area if you love geocaching. If this is the place you choose to park, please don’t block any resident access road or driveway.
Please note: this regional park is not to be confused with Englishman River Falls. That Provincial Park can be read in this article: Natural Wonders of Oceanside
Englishman River Estuary
At the mouth of the Englishman River, you’ll find this beautiful estuary teeming with birds and other wildlife. Along the trails of this park, you will have views of the river, salt marshes, the estuary, forested areas and the ocean.
There are several different loops around the park varying in length. As well, the park can be accessed from either side of the river, each with its own highlights.
The main access point is at the end of Shelly Road. Along these trails, you will find viewing areas, interpretive signage, mature second-growth forest, and, of course, a variety of birds. Another access point, with a viewing platform, can be found off of San Malo Crescent.
For a detailed description of the entire estuary, please read Englishman River Estuary.
With sweeping views like this, it’s easy to see why we feel this is one of Parksville’s best parks and trails. You can either drive up to the top to see this expansive view, or better yet, hike for even better viewpoints.
A full description of the hike can be found here: Little Mountain Hike
- From Hwy 19 take the second Parksville exit (Exit 51) and turn left onto the Alberni Hwy (as if you were going to Errington/Coombs).
- Turn left onto Bellevue Road
- Take another left onto Little Mountain Road
- Drive the winding road to the top and park
- You’ll find the view spot directly behind your parked vehicle (take a short stroll towards the clearing)
Shelly Creek Park
Shelly Creek is a tributary of the Englishman River and flows from the base of Little Mountain all the way to its exit point near Parksville’s Orange Bridge. The park is home to the last healthy riparian section of this 5.6 km stream.
As it’s the only fish-bearing stream in the City of Parksville, a new footbridge was installed in the park to protect this key natural asset. During the summer, when the water levels are low, the few remaining trout make their home in what’s left of the stream and can sometimes be seen from the footbridge.
While the park contains less than 0.7 km of trails, it does provide a beautiful forest escape. And there are plenty of interpretative signs explaining more about the sensitive habitat and stream erosion. The beauty of this area is one of the reasons we feel this little gem should be included in the list Parksville’s best parks and trails.
If you are keen on making your walk longer, Parksville’s now defunct E & N Rail tracks can be found directly behind Shelly Creek Park and make a great ‘trail’ to walk along.
Shelly Creek Park is located at the very top of Corfield Street. On one side of the road, you will find a playground and a grassy area perfect for picnics; and, on the other side, the forested trails.
Additional parking and an alternate access point to the park can also be found off Hamilton Avenue (off Corfield).
Parksville Community Park
Located in the heart of Parksville, this community park is loved by both locals and visitors. It’s a place you can spend an entire day because it has so much to offer. The 39-acre park is the site used for many great events and festivals which happen throughout the year, including the well-loved Sandcastle Contest and Kite Festival.
The parks recreational facilities are sure to satisfy the whole family. At this park you can find:
- Splash Park
- Playground (a huge playpark)
- Horseshoe pits
- Kite field
- Lacrosse Box
- Tennis / Pickelball courts
- Picnic shelters, benches and gazebo
- Skateboard park
- Sports fields and ball diamonds
- Beach Volleyball courts
- Outdoor gym equipment
- A beach boardwalk
For a full list of what the Community Park offers, please visit the City of Parksville.
Location: 193 Beachside Drive
Home of Parksville’s primary sports field, Springwood Park is a 21-acre parcel which provides facilities for everyone to enjoy. There are four baseball diamonds on the sports field, and two additional diamonds on either side of the six available tennis courts.
As this park is located adjacent to Springwood Elementary School, children and youth delight in being able to use the school’s playground equipment and outdoor basketball court.
This park is also equipped with an off-leash dog area. The fenced exercise area has grass and some trees for shade. You will also find running water for thirsty dogs, waste bags, garbage cans, benches, and a shelter with picnic tables for owners. (For many more dog parks in the area, read: Off-Leash Dog Parks on Vancouver Island )
Springwood Park is the site of a perimeter trail system connecting to the Parksville Wetlands trail system (mentioned below) as well as the Coombs to Parksville Rail trail. – A 7 km hard-packed gravel trail connecting Parksville to Coombs.
To access Parksville Wetlands via Springwood Park, you would head right at the top of the gravel road and follow the wood chipped trail. To access the Rail Trail you would follow the gravel path to your left.
Location: 450 Despard Avenue
Trails weave through and around this scenic wetland and wooded area of Parksville, an area of great importance. Not only does this location provide key migratory bird habitats, but it’s also a watershed resource for eastern Vancouver Island.
In 2017, the City purchased the 97-acre parcel formerly owned by the Ermineskin Cree Nation. The trails that were added now provide visitors with a 1.14 km walking loop through the park. The Wetlands offer one of the best birding areas on Vancouver Island.
To make the walk longer, trails also connect through to Springwood Park along the ‘Cold Water trail’ (see details about Springwood above).
Access points to the Wetland trails are at the foot of Despard Avenue (near Springwood Park); at the southern intersection of Magnolia Drive and Chestnut Street; and, at the far end of Hirst Ave W. (watch for signs).
How many of these locations have you been to? Would you add any other area to this list of Parksville’s best parks and trails?
To save this article for future use, please pin this image on Pinterest: