- Meg Cuthbert
Cowichan River Footpath - Vancouver Island Hike
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
This is one of my 12 Vancouver Island bucket list hikes for 2019. Checkout the full list here.
Access: Western Trailhead is Skutz Falls (where we started). Eastern Trailhead is the Cowichan Fish and Game Association Clubhouse.
Distance: 20 kilometres
Difficulty: Mild to moderate.
Highlights: Marie Canyon, Mile 66 Trestle, river access
The Cowichan River Footpath trails alongside the Cowichan River for 20 kilometres from Glenora to Skutz Falls. The Footpath was constructed by the Cowichan Fish and Game Association between 1960 and 1969 and provides river access to fishermen (and swimmers and hikers). Today the Footpath is located within the Cowichan River Provincial Park that was established in 1995.
The Cowichan River Provincial Park covers 1,414 hectares of land around the Cowichan River. The Footpath meanders through this area, but the Great Trail also runs through this park. The Great Trail and the Footpath join up at several locations making nice loop options for people who don’t want to hike the whole trail or don’t want to double back (there’s no going back).
The Cowichan River is at the heart of this area. Flowing 47 kilometres from Cowichan Lake to Cowichan Bay, it transects almost the entire region. The river is designated as both a BC and a Canadian Heritage River for its outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational heritage values.
The Footpath provides access to the river in several locations, but also runs high on the ridge of Marie Canyon. It connects with The Great Trail at the Mile 66 Trestle that spans across the canyon.
Take caution around the Cowichan River, especially in the winter when the water is high and fast-moving. Ongoing trail maintenance may cause closures, so check trail updates before heading out.
Other Vancouver Island Hikes