- Meg Cuthbert
Mount Benson - A Vancouver Island Hike
This is one of my 12 Vancouver Island bucket list hikes for 2019. Checkout the full list here.
Access: 2761 Benson View Road, Nanaimo
Distance: 8ish kilometres. There’s a lot of trails to choose from
Difficulty: Moderate to mildly difficult
Highlights: Panoramic views of Nanaimo and the Salish Sea. Also, when we went, there were Whiskey Jacks.
Mount Benson is the backdrop to the city of Nanaimo. The trails to the summit are located in the Mount Benson Regional Park — it’s a 213-hectare plot of forested mountain slopes.
We started from the brand new parking lot (equipped with outhouses) and took the steepest route up the mountainside (here's a map). The path is a combination of old logging roads (that are looking more like trails every year) and single track trail. To climb to the 1,019-metre summit in two hours, you better believe that it is steep in some sections (but not ridiculously so).
The signs at the parking lot say to plan for 5-7 hours on the trails, we completed the out and back hike in four hours. However, I can see that if you wanted to finish a loop or explore more trails, you would definitely need the extra time.
The summit of Mount Benson offers spectacular views of Nanaimo and the surrounding areas. It feels like the mountain is the gate between the city on one side and the expansive wilderness on the other. It was a bright, blue skies day when we hiked up, and we could see all the way to Mount Baker. The only wildlife we encountered was the playful Whiskey Jacks. There were dozens of them up there playing in the wind and checking us out.
The trek down was fast. A downside (pardon the pun) of hiking in the winter is the limited daylight. With the Mount Benson trails being in the shadow of the mountain, the forest gets dark fast. A lesson learned for next time was to start trekking earlier in the day.
It’s a great day hike. Summit views are always a good reward for grinding up a trail, and Mount Benson doesn’t disappoint.
Other Vancouver Island Hikes