The aptly named, Little Mountain provides visitors with sweeping views and is a much loved Parksville lookout. Although you can easily drive to the top, there is also a heart-pumping hike that is highly recommended.
- Trail Features: Incredible views; cool rock formations
- Length: This out and back trail is approximately 2.1 km to the top (4.2 km total)
- Elevation Gain: 120 meters
- Difficulty: Easy – Moderate; the last short section is very steep
- Hazards: No barriers at the top lookout
- Suitability: Due to hazards mentioned above, please be extremely mindful with children and dogs
- Bike Trails: Yes
Little Mountain – The Drive
If you are short on time, or just don’t feel like a hike but still want a great place to explore, then hop in your car! As mentioned, you can drive right to the top of Little Mountain. You get to experience this same stunning view (above) with little to no effort.
The only hard part may be parking your vehicle. There are very limited available spaces at the top. And once you get there, it’s also quite difficult to turn back around (if no spaces are available).
If driving is your plan, here’s the directions to get to the top of Little Mountain.
Driving Directions to Little Mountain
- 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)
Little Mountain Hike
The top lookout gives you sweeping views of treetops and Mount Arrowsmith. And while spectacular on its own, the hike provides even better views.
You drive up the backside of the mountain, but hike up the front. So, this means while hiking you have both forest AND ocean views. I believe we spotted Notch Hill (in Nanoose) from one of the lookouts and also had a beautiful unobstructed view of the ocean in another location.
The trail creators have quite the sense of humour, for there are several signs at various points highlighting certain features. Watch for them and you will see what I mean.
Yes, the views are spectacular, but my favourite part of the hike is the area called ‘Boulder City’ – which was apparently established January 26, 1700 – (a bit of the humour I was talking about).
Length and Difficulty of Trail
The length of the hike, to the very top where you’d park your vehicle if you were to drive, is approximately 2.1 km.
You start out at a gentle incline with the usual roots and rocks to maneuvre around. And then after the first couple of lookouts, you gain quite a bit of elevation to the get to the top. This last section can also be rather confusing, for there is a multitude of trails to choose from to get to the final destination.
Many people like using the Alltrails map to guide them, however, from what we found it only leads you to the first lookout (the ocean view). If you want the full experience, you need to keep climbing.
We passed a few people using the various trails near the top and we all ended up at the same final destination. So don’t be afraid to just pick a trail and stick with it. If in doubt head up!
Once you reach the very top, have a meander around. The trails that lead down the right side of the mountain don’t go anywhere. (We tried to see if we could get back down that way, but couldn’t find a way to do so). So, when you have finished taking in the view, you will follow the same trails and head back down the way you came up.
Directions to Trail
Follow the same driving directions above, however, instead of turning left on Little Mountain, stay on Bellevue Road and follow it to the very end.
The trail starts at the corner of Bellevue road and Matterson. And there are a few parking spots on this same corner.
Head into the trees where the hiking sign is located and follow the trail. In a short distance, you will see another sign on your left-hand side, indicating “Little Mountain Loop – Lower Start”. Follow this sign and stay on this main trail. If in doubt as to which way to go, I do suggest following the Alltrails map to the first ocean view lookout. As mentioned, from there you are kind of on your own to get to the very top. But do…for the reward is worth it!
The hike can be enjoyed at any time of year, but the trails can get quite muddy in the winter. As the top portion of the trail is quite steep, you also wouldn’t want to go during any sort of frost and definitely not when it’s snowing.
Things to Note:
The lookout is wide open, meaning there is no fence or barrier between you and the drop-off. And it’s quite the drop-off. My legs start wobbling even getting near the edge. So if you are planning on bringing little ones or even your dogs, please be mindful of this.
You CAN also hike up the road to the top (although, in my opinion, definitely not as enjoyable as the trail). Please be mindful of vehicles, for the road has many blind curves.
Whether you decide to drive or hike to the top of Little Mountain, I highly recommend bringing a picnic and taking in the view. The area is also great for birding. Hawks are frequently seen soaring the open sky close to the mountain.
I’ve also heard it’s a glorious spot to watch the sunrise. I haven’t done this yet, but I can imagine it would be. If you try it, please let me know!
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Do you realize the significance of that date in the year 1700?
I do now! Thank you!
Excellent description. Wish we were out of COVID bubble and could drive on up to Parksville and hike up Little Mountain. All the years that we lived in the area, we drove up to the top many times, but never hiked your trail.
Thank you, Carolyn! Yes, hopefully, we will be able to travel outside our own town soon.