Hemer Provincial Park, located in Nanaimo, offers visitors a lake and a marsh popular among bird watchers.

  • Features: Mature second growth forest; lake; marsh
  • Park Size: 109 hectares
  • Trails: Approximately 11 km of developed trails throughout the park
  • Suitability: walking, hiking, horseback riding, wheelchair accessible trails
  • Hazards: The smell from the pulp mill is extremely strong at this park, which might be off-putting to some
  • Park Use: Day-use only
  • Washrooms: Two pit toilets near the entrance of the park
  • Pets: As this is a Provincial Park, dogs must remain on a leash at all times
Forested trail at Hemer Provincial Park. Vancouver Island View

A Bit of History

Since 1890, the Hemer family owned farmland in Cedar. In 1981, John Delbert Hemer and his sister, Violet, donated the farm to the Provincial Government, creating Hemer Provincial Park. A few remains of the farmstead can still be found throughout the park.

This day-use park now protects a mature second-growth forest with a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees. The protected area also includes access to important wetland habitat and Holden Lake, one of only two lakes on Vancouver Island containing the Peamouth Chubb.

Marsh at Hemer Provincial Park. Vancouver Island View

The Marsh

Approximately 1 km from the parking area, you can access the viewing platform perched over the wetland. From there, you can often spot Trumpeter swans, various ducks, Canadian geese, turkey vultures, Bald eagles, and, if lucky, beaver.

Although the viewing platform offers the best vantage point, a few trodden paths also lead down to the marsh shoreline full of bullrushes and lilypads.

Holden Lake. Vancouver Island View

Holden Lake

Holden Lake is home to Cutthroat trout, smallmouth bass, minnows (mainly Peamouth chubb) and sculpins (bullheads.) With an appropriate fishing licence, anglers are permitted to fish for these species. And although found year-round, peak months are April through to June, September and October.

This lake would also be a beautiful spot to canoe or kayak. Motorized boats are not allowed on this lake.

Tree tunnel near Holden Lake. Vancouver Island View
Tree tunnel found on the trail that runs parallel to Holden Lake

Hemer Provincial Park Trails

There is approximately 11 km of maintained trails within the park. The upper trail that skirts the wetland area is a multi-use trail. This wide and relatively flat hardpacked trail is suitable for hikers, strollers and wheel-chairs, horseback riders and bikes.

The trail that parallels Holden Lake is narrow and bumpy due to exposed tree roots and is designated as a walking-only trail. If you were to follow this trail outside the park boundaries, you’d be on Morden Colliery Regional Trail. This approximate 2.6 km Regional trail leads to the Cedar Plaza parking area on Cedar road.

The trails within Hemer park are beautiful and connect at various spots along the way via offshoot trails. Please note, however, these offshoot trails are for hikers only. No matter where you are in the park you are walking among mature second-growth trees primarily of Douglas fir, big-leaf maple and red alder. There are a number of benches along the way to invite you to sit and enjoy the view.

Horseback riders, as well as dog walkers, are expected to pick up after the animal and dispose of any excrement in an appropriate manner.

I’ll leave you with two maps to help with navigation:

Holden Lake. Vancouver Island View
Fall scene at Hemer Provincial Park

Getting There

  • From Hwy 1, take the Cedar road turnoff
  • Stay right to continue on Cedar road
  • Turn left onto Hemer road (directly after the Mahle House restaurant)
  • The parking area for Hemer Provincial Park is at the very end of Hemer road

Alternately, you can park at the Cedar Plaza gravel parking lot, located on Cedar Road, and walk 2.6 km along the Morden Colliery Regional Trail to Hemer Park.

While in the Area

Both Cedar and Yellow Point (a small community south of Cedar) offer many attractions. You can read about them here: The Best of Yellow Point and Cedar.

Further towards Duke Point (near the ferry terminal), one can find Jack Point park. A spectacular park full of unique sandstone formations.


Have you been to Hemer Provincial Park? Let us know about your experience in the comment section below.

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