THE TRAIL – COWICHAN RIVER FOOTPATH :
The Cowichan River footpath was developed by the Cowichan Fish and Game Association between 1960 and 1969, with the co-operation of government, industry and private individuals. The clubhouse is at the eastern trailhead of the Cowichan River Footpath. The Footpath is a historic 20-km trail that winds its way along the scenic Cowichan River, from Glenora to Skutz Falls. Although originally constructed and used by anglers, the Cowichan River Footpath connects all the river’s parks and makes for an excellent scenic hike along the Cowichan River through Cowichan River Provincial Park. The lower part of the footpath, from the clubhouse to Skutz Falls, is well-marked (blue and white markers) and brushed out seasonally. The bridges are in good shape, and there are some steep sections. This is the most used section of the footpath, beautiful at any time of the year, with many excellent picnicking spots.
The section from Skutz Falls to Old Cowichan Lake Road receives less maintenance, but it is regularly used by anglers. In some places erosion of the river bank, forces hikers to detour by road or along the old railway right-of-way. This section is on level ground and fairly close to the river, with several good swimming spots along it. In summer the trail can be rather overgrown in places, and a little bit south of the Mile 71 CNR trestle the trail becomes less obvious.
Trail users should note that no emergency aid is readily available over much of the path. There are no washrooms other than in the Skutz Falls area. Please pack all trash out as there are no garbage cans. Also, be aware of wildlife in the area. No vehicles are allowed on the footpath. Observe all notices about private property, the lighting of fires and camp only on crown land. As with much of Vancouver Island this area has its fair share of bears. Wolves have also known to be in the area so keep your dogs in check. The Cowichan River can be very treacherous. Swimmers, tubers, canoeists, and kayakers should be aware of the dangerous sections.
There are some very good fishing opportunities on the Cowichan River. Please check a recent version of the regulations before throwing your line in.
HIKING DISTANCES :
From Founders Hall to Holt Creek return on circle route: 1.5 miles/2.4 km
From Founders Hall to Mile 2 return on circle route: 4 miles/6.4 km (good picnic spots)
From Founders Hall to Skutz Falls one way: 12.5 miles/20 km (allow 6-1/2 hours)
From Skutz Falls to Old Cowichan Lake Road trailhead one way: 9 miles/14 km (4.5 hrs)