Vancouver Island is packed with gorgeous hikes with views of ocean harbours, Islands, mountains and valleys. From the top of Mount Tzouhalem you can see it ALL.
Featured image courtesy of: Lawrenceherzog
We woke up to the most beautiful November morning with blue skies and full sun.
On a Vancouver Island Autumn day like this, you just have to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
“Kids get your coats on! We are going outside!”
If you are in the Cowichan area on Vancouver Island and looking for a quick access hike to beautiful viewpoints, this is it. This trail will add so much to your day because you accomplish something amazing so quickly and then you can be off to the next adventure.
Read on and I will share all I know about this local gem of a mountain. Most all the locals know about this trail, and now you will too. Sorry locals!
The trailhead is only about a 10-minute drive off the Trans-Canada highway (The main Island highway that connects Victoria to Nanaimo and beyond). Directions can be found at bottom of post.
The hike to the most popular lookout (The Cross Summit) is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from the parking lot if you keep a good pace.
If you are hiking as a young family (my kids are 8,7 & 5) and anticipate any of the following… plan for a good 2 hours up to the second lookout and 45 minutes down.
- If you’re going to stop and have a leisurely lunch at the first viewpoint and explore around in the ecological reserve.
- If every member of the family stops to go pee and one of your kids will go for a surprise #2.
- If after discovering the garden of rock cairns, your kids decide they must play with them… and your dog knocks over several that you must rebuild.
- If each one of your kids biffs it at least once on their face.
- If your kids decide they must carry a large 6ft branch with them up the mountain… and then stop periodically to sweep the leaves off the trail.
- And last but not least, if you anticipate something going wrong with your vehicle… like say discovering that your car radiator has sprung a leak in the parking lot and you have to deal with that. Yes, that happened to us.
I always have lofty dreams of my kids smiling, dancing and holding my hand ALL the way up the mountain. As soon as I modify those expectations, the hike always goes much better. Don’t miss the small moments, friends. With kids especially, it’s the journey that matters the most and not the end destination.
Mount Tzouhalem is on one of the largest municipal forests in North America. At over 5,000 heactares of forestland, it makes for one massive area for hiking, mountain biking and forest exploring.
The main hiking trail will take you to the top of rock bluffs at over 500 meters high. On a beautiful day like we had today, it makes for one amazing lookout.
If you are a wild flower lover, you are in luck! In late April the Mount. Tzouhalem Ecological Reserve protects the finest examples of woodlands and wildflower meadows in in all of B.C.
Once you are standing in the Mount Tzouhalem parking lot you have a choice to make as to which way you start off on your hike. You can either head to the yellow gate with the more established fire access dirt road, or you can head off in the direction we did on the other end of the parking lot and start off on more of an established footpath. 15 minutes into this hike you will come to the entrance of the Ecological Reserve.
You can see a beautiful vista of mountains and a couple lakes inside the ecological reserve or hike a few more minutes up the trail. You can’t miss it!
Lookout #2 (The Cross Summit)
Finding this lookout can be a little trickier for first time hikers on Mount Tzouhalem. One of the reasons is because there are many roads and offshoot trails once you pass the first lookout. The other reason is that there are no signs! I’m afraid we aren’t going to be much help to you on giving you specific directions to the second lookout. We can tell you though once you are at the cross you are there! (Sometimes it blows over though…but usually it’s up there!)
Our general rule of thumb that we stuck with was to take the path going up when possible and stick to the path most travelled and leading towards what you believe is the rock bluff cliff. As it was autumn, there were lots of leaves on the trail so that made it a little more difficult.
We almost…and I mean by inches… made it to the second official lookout .
With the sun starting to go down, our kids getting tired and our van with a leaky radiator waiting for us in the parking lot, we decided to go back down Mount Tzouhalem just steps away from the second viewpoint. Ah nuts! Next time!
One definitive direction we can give you on your Mount Tzouhalem hike is to choose the “Branch D” path on your right when you see that sign nailed to a tree. At that point you will be about 25 minutes from the second lookout (The Summit Cross).
We loved this hike! The beautiful forest walk, the small running brooks of water, the wide easy trail, and the gorgeous views made for one amazing hike.
Have you been on the Mount Tzouhalem hike before? Got any helpful hints to add? Start the ball rolling and comment below!
Directions To Mount Tzouhalem Trail Head & Parking Lot
FROM the Trans Canada Hwy. Turn east onto Trunk Road. Follow Trunk which turns into Tzouhalem Road. Stay left at the “Y” junction and you will be on Maple Bay Road. Follow Maple Bay for 3 kilometres, then turn right onto Kingsview Road and follow it up to Chippewa Road. From here follow direction signs to the Mount Tzouhalem Ecological Reserve. Turn right onto Chippewa and follow it to Kaspa Road. Turn left onto Kaspa and follow it to the end where a narrow paved road leads to the parking area by the water tower.