Nanaimo has a lot to offer in terms of running. There are so many different places to go and run all within a short drive or walk from each other. You can head down to the seawall for a nice job along the water or head up near Mount Benson for a great trail run around Westwood Lake, Morrell Sanctuary, and Colliery Dam. Whether your favorite place to run is along the trail or the road, there is a beautiful place to do it.
Places to Run in Nanaimo
The 20km paved trail along the Nanaimo Parkway is a perfect place to run if you don’t mind the noise of the traffic. These days it’s almost impossible to run somewhere completely away from the noise of the cars and trucks and the parkway trail gets you off the road and on to a nice paved track. The trail winds it’s way all the way from Chase River in Nanaimo’s south end to near Woodgrove Mall in the north. Run the entire thing if you want or hop on and off at intersection points along the way. Popular intersection points are at Jingle Pot (near Westwood Lake), Northfield road and Mostar Road.You can see the Parkway Trail and other great paths on the Nanaimo Parks and Trails map.
The E&N runs along a section of the old Island Highway through Nanaimo. It’s a paved track off the side of the highway similar to the Parkway trail. If you live in an area that the E&N Trail runs through it’s an excellent place to run without having to get on the road.Check out the E&N Trail and other places to run on the Nanaimo Parks and Trails map.
The Nanaimo Seawall runs 3.5 Kilometers from the Cameron Island complex downtown Nanaimo north to the Brechin Boat Ramp. The scenic trail runs along the water the whole way and intersects a number of roads and other paths that run down to the water. Run the entire length or just take in a small piece of it. Either way, you won’t be disappointed with the fabulous views and fresh smells along the way.
The largest forested area within Nanaimo, Linley Valley and Cottle Lake is a hidden treasure inside the city limits. Enter off Rock City Road, Linley Road off Hammond Bay, or Burma Road off Lost Lake Road and wander through the beautiful forests and well kept trails. Nearer to the Rock City entrance is Cottle Lake, a small lake home to many birds, a few fish and some other woodland creatures. If you’re looking for a wooded area with smooth trails for a run, this is one of the best areas in Nanaimo to do it.
One of Nanaimo’s most popular lakes and walking destinations, Westwood Lake is perfect for all your outdoor pursuits. Walk around the lake and take in the views or ramp it up a bit and job around the 6km loop around the lake. Afterwards, cool off in the lake itself, at one of 2 or 3 different swimming areas around the lake. If you need something different or slightly longer, head across the powerlines behind the lake into the dog offleash area and Westwood Ridges. The Ridges overlook the lake and down onto Nanaimo for some beautiful views. For the adventurous, turn off onto the adjoining trails near the south end of the lake and head into Morrell Sanctuary for a longer run. One of the routes to the top of Mount Benson starts at the Westwood lake. This route is longer and slightly more complicated than the one from Witchcraft lake but is less steep.
Another beautiful off-road area right in Nanaimo, Colliery Dam is one of the sources of water for Nanaimo. You can find the park at the intersection of Wakesiah and Sixth Street near downtown Nanaimo. There is plenty of parking and information at the entrance to the park. For the adventurous continue on the trails right up to the Parkway Highway and continue underneath to find a great selection of mountain biking and trail running trails on the other side. Continue along the power lines over to Morrell Sanctuary or head back into Colliery Dam park.
Referred to multiple times above, Morrell Sanctuary is right next door to Westwood Lake park and can be reached from Colliery Dam as well. You can head straight through Morrell and across the power lines to reach one of the routes up Benson or the entrance to K2, a favorite mountain biking trail that runs parallel to the power lines. Just wandering through the well-maintained single and double track through Morrell is a treat in itself all times of year. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear in the wetter months. There can be a considerable amount of mud on some of the trails!
Bowen Park is home to the beautiful Millsteam river that actually seems some salmon run during the season. Take in sights of the river over a number of bridges in the park. The steam eventual runs out in the Nanaimo Harbour right next to Mafeo Sutton Park downtown. Most of the trails are paved in the park but it still gets you away from the sounds and smells of the traffic nearby.
One of the few tracks in town, Caledonia track and field area is a great place to run if you need an offroad place to run but can’t travel too far. The field is well-maintained during the year and sees soccer, football and ultimate teams playing and practicing almost year round.
Running Stores in Nanaimo
FrontRunners and Running Room are two of the best running stores in town but there are a bunch of others that carry running shoes and the required gear for getting out on the trail. Find more outdoor and running stores in Nanaimo, Victoria, or Tofino.
Westwood and the trails up Benson are my favourite places to run. Love K2 and the ridge. Westwood running group starts up the day after day light savings time. Free membership!
I hear ya! K2 is a wicked trail to hit up in there. Is the group through Westwood Running Club, Jason, or do they have their own group? I know Runner’s of Compassion run there a lot on Saturdays.