For unique sandstone formations, sea caves, and incredible ocean views, head to Jack Point and Biggs Park in Nanaimo. The trail gives you excellent views of the Nanaimo River estuary, downtown Nanaimo, Protection Island and Gabriola Island. And while exploring the point, you may also have the opportunity to see some ocean wildlife too!
Quick Park Facts
- Park Size: 32 acres
- Trail / Park Features: Unique sandstone formations, sea caves, wildlife opportunities, a mature second-growth forest of Douglas fir and plenty of Arbutus trees
- Length: This out and back trail is 2.5 km from the parking lot to the point (5 km total)
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (Moderate only due to the three set of stairs)
- Hazards: Exploring the sea caves and sandstone formations along the shore requires watching the tide
- Suitability: hiking/walking only due to stairs; the first 300 meters of the trail is paved and accessible
- Bike Trails: no
A Bit of History
Jack Point covers the tip of the peninsula you reach if you continue along the trail to the end. Biggs Park is where the trail to Jack Point is located and named after John Biggs, a Nanaimo carpenter and miner who pre-empted the land.
The point is named after Jack Doholt (1819-1905), a man who supplied Nanaimo with milk and hay and a resident of the point for 40 years. Before being connected to Duke Point and Biggs Park, the point was an island at high tide.
Jack Point and Biggs Park Trail
Truth be told, the starting location of this trail may deter a lot of people from exploring the area. You start in a busy industrial area, and oftentimes the smell of the nearby pulp mill and compost facitlity is enough to knock you over. However, once you go through the tunnel towards the ocean, all of that seems to slip away. So forge on!
The trail winds its way along the shoreline, giving you views of the unique sandstone formations along the way. When not along the shore, you’ll walk through groves of Arbutus trees and large Douglas fir. At several key viewing spots, you’ll find benches allowing you to sit and enjoy your surroundings.
The trail has a few interpretative signs where pertinent, giving you a bit more information about what you are seeing. There are three significant staircases along the trail, with the last one having approximately 60 stairs. However, if you can manage this last staircase, the views at Jack Point are incredible and more than worth it!
Many people spot otters, seals, sea lions, eagles, and even harbour porpoises off Jack Point. It’s also an amazing location to watch the sunset.
When on the point and looking towards the ocean, the terminal you see on your right is the Duke Point Ferries.
If exploring the sandstone formations is more what you are after, please keep reading.
Sandstone Formations at Biggs Park
Viewing and exploring the carved-out and sculpted sandstone is what brings many to this park. Doing so, however, is tide-dependent. It needs to be a low tide to explore the shore, and it’s best if the tide is going out, as it’s easy to get ‘trapped’ if the tide is coming in. Read Nanaimo’s tide chart to help you figure out the best time to go.
To explore the unique sandstone formations, you will head down the small dirt path just before the first set of stairs. If you are on the right path, you’ll see a large cave-like formation almost immediately (image below). Keep walking along this shore to explore and view some incredible sights, including honeycombed rocks, peek-a-boo holes, sculpted caves, and more.
To continue along the trail to Jack Point, you’ll need to head back the same way you came. Again, please observe the tide carefully, as it comes up incredibly fast. The shoreline and sand you walked on to explore the sandstone formations may not be there on the way back!
The official address is 501 Duke Point Highway.
Follow the signs to Jack Point and Biggs Park after taking the Duke Point Highway exit (BC 19 E ramp towards the BC Ferries).
If in doubt, follow these directions:
- From Hwy 19 (Duke Point Highway), take the exit towards Duke Point Industrial Park/Cedar
- Continue on Maughan Road
- Turn right onto Jackson Road
- The parking area for Jack Point and Biggs Park is at the end of Jackson Road
- Make sure not to leave anything of value inside your vehicle!
While You are There
If you are looking for a few other great spots in and around this general area, check out:
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