Nanaimo has so much to offer the outdoor-minded. Every direction you turn, another trail leads off into the bush or the beach looks perfect for a kayak launch. Westwood Lake and Mount Benson are two prime candidates for those wanting to see the wilderness around Nanaimo without travelling too far.
Travel just a little further south and you’ll bump into Nanaimo River. A fantastic way to beat the summer heat, it first runs through the 4 Nanaimo Lakes; First, Second, Third and Fourth. The large undeveloped area around the lakes offer a refreshing view into the scenery the island has to offer, even it has been partially logged.
There’s so much you can do in the area. You could spend weeks exploring. There’s places to camp on a couple of the lakes, beautiful spots to swim on the river before and after the lakes and exciting trails to hike on the surrounding hills.If you want to stay more than one day, there’s a number of campsites you can stay at.
http://nlcampsite.com/ has the official information for the sites in the area. Recently it’s been $17.50 per night to stay in the area, although this can change without warning. It was only $15.00 at the beginning of the summer.
Keep in mind that the campsites and hiking tails are on private land owned by Mosaic (Timberwest). They control this land and can close it at any time if they run into problems. In the past the entire area was closed after some equipment was damaged. There is one gate before First Lake and one at Second. They can be closed sometimes. Treat it with respect and it will be open more often.
Hiking near Nanaimo Lakes
A lot of the Nanaimo Lakes area has been logged. This has it’s advantages and disadvantages. The active roads give really good access to the remote areas around the Nanaimo Lakes. The very reason the roads are there though, is to give the loggers a way in to remove many trees from the hills. Clearcuts aren’t the prettiest thing to look at. Areas that have had a chance to grow back and still have logging roads running through them make for really good places to hike.
As soon as you enter the Nanaimo Lakes area you’ll be surrounded by medium-sized mountains. Second Lake is straddled by Mount DeCosmos at 1531 meters just to the north and Mount Hooker at 1263 meters just to the south. As you get past Second lake you’ll start to see Mount Moriarty to the north. Drive a little further and turn south you’ll end up with Green Mountain, Gemini Mountain and Butler Peak to your left.
Fishing on the Nanaimo Lakes
If you have you’re own boat of some sort, you can do some fishing in one of the Nanaimo Lakes. Each of the lakes has a boat launch for anyone to use. First and Fourth Lake are stocked with Rainbow and Cutthroat trout each year. A few other species have been found in the lakes as well.
Swimming in the Nanaimo Lakes
The Nanaimo Lakes are perfect for swimming in during the warmer months of the year. There are many different places to access them but most is through the campsites. Some of the lakes have smaller access points as well that make for great places to cool down during the summer.
Skiing near Nanaimo Lakes
If you’ve got ski touring gear or snowshoes, you can make use of the hills around the Nanaimo Lakes area. For years, Green Mountain was a community run ski hill. They ended up shutting down a while ago but the ski runs remain and are still a great place to get some turns in. You just have to get yourself to the top!
Getting to Nanaimo Lakes
Nanaimo Lakes can be reached by travelling south from Nanaimo and taking a right onto Nanaimo River Road. You can also reach them by travelling south on Nanaimo Lakes Road off of Wakesiah Ave in downtown Nanaimo. Check out a Google map out of how to get to Nanaimo Lakes.
I highly recommend checking out the Nanaimo Lakes area. It’s a beautiful area so close to Nanaimo and is rarely busy like the pretty spots in town. This post is only a taste of the places you can go and things you can do out there. I’ll be updating this post when I find new and exciting information so check back often!