Quadra Island, near Campbell River on Vancouver Island’s east coast, is off the radar for many people. Thank goodness. Quadra’s natural beauty and low-key vibe are heavenly. While the sheltered bay at Rebecca Spit is popular with boaters, the rest of the island, particularly its great hiking trails are amazingly peaceful. After 6 days of kayaking in the Broughton Archipelago we were ready for landlubber activities. The photos and descriptions below are just a tiny sample of Quadra’s trails.
In my obsession about getting a good workout by slogging up a peak, we nearly dismissed this little seaside gem. Our host at the lovely Chipperfield Hollow B&B pushed Shellaligin Pass and I’m so glad we heeded his advice. I’m not sure why the word “pass” is used because the trail is an easy-going loop along coastline and through forests with minimal elevation gain. The 3-5 km trail (depending on whether you do the short or long loop) is packed with stunning coves and beaches, and glorious views. Like other trails on Quadra Island, Shellaligan Pass was all but deserted.
If you’re on Quadra, don’t miss this beautiful trail, and don’t rush it (plan on 2-3 hours). It is marked as #15 on the trail map at the end of the post, accessed via Valdez Rd. The trailhead is about a 25 minute drive from Heriot Bay where our B&B was located.
We still had time and energy so we decided to continue on to Surge Narrows Provincial Park, about a 20 minute drive from the Shellaligan Pass trailhead. The 3 km coastal trail (#16 on the map below) is easy and leads to a series of rocky overlooks. During high water flow, the passage is transformed into roaring tidal rapids. As you can see from the photo, we didn’t time it quite right, but it’s still a beautiful spot. Next time we’ll check the tide tables, bring a picnic, and enjoy the show.
On our second day, I satisfied my craving for aerobic activity. Beech’s Mountain, part of the Chinese Mountain trail network, provides a good workout and a scenic geography lesson of the convoluted waterways and islands surrounding Quadra Island. The 5 km trail gains about 460 m through pleasant forests and many gorgeous open bluffs with views to Vancouver Island on one side, and the Strait of Georgia and Coast Mountains on the other. We sat for a long time admiring the view and watching a group of turkey vultures soaring overhead. I never realized these birds are so beautiful in flight. Beech’s Mountain can be combined with the two Chinese Mountain peaks for a rewarding 4-5 hour hike. It is identified as # 9 on the map, and is about a 15 minute drive from Heriot Bay.
We were sweaty after our hike and decided to head to Morte Lake (# 10 on map), just a 5 minute drive from the Beech’s/Chinese Mountain parking lot. The hike into the lake only takes about 30 minutes, and there are a couple of small pebbly beaches that provide good access to the water. The lake is beautiful with crystal clear water. A refreshing dip was just what we needed. The trail continues all the way around the lake and also connects with the much longer hike to Maude Island and the Seymour Narrows…next time.
I wouldn’t classify Rebecca Spit as a hike, but it’s a wonderful place for a stroll, particularly at sunset when many people have left for the day. The narrow, 2 km spit has pretty, drift-wood strewn beaches on both sides—the perfect setting for a bottle of wine, and burgers from Terry’s Take-Out.
IF YOU GO:
- Quadra Island is accessed by a 10 minute ferry crossing from Campbell River, Vancouver Island.
- For folks visiting from Vancouver and the lower mainland, Campbell River is about a 1.5 hour drive from the Nanaimo ferry terminal, and a 3 hour drive from the Swartz Bay (Victoria) ferry terminal.
- Campbell River also has regular air service to and from Vancouver (about 40 minutes).
- Quadra has a selection of lodges, B&B’s and campgrounds. I like staying near Heriot Bay, which provides good access to both the north and south sides of the island. Chipperfield Hollow B&B is a great spot and good value.
- Check the map below and www.quadraisland.ca for trail locations and descriptions.