A little snow won’t stop me from breathing the fresh mountain air. In fact, the scenic winter wonderland motivates me to get outside during the winter months. The snow covered trees and glistening icicles are magical. Even with the little amount of snow we get here on Central Vancouver Island, you don’t have to go very far to experience it.
There is an extensive network of trails along Westwood Ridge (Mount Benson) in Nanaimo. Many of the trails are used by mountain biking enthusiasts and hikers. Access points include Westwood Lake and Witchcraft Lake.
Westwood Ridge offers stunning views of Mount Benson and leads you to a beautiful lookout of Nanaimo and the coastal mountains. This hike takes less than an hour. Most of the trail is through the forest, but as you ascend, it becomes a little more exposed. The lookout is a great picnic spot.
Along the way, there is an incredible memorial site of two young men, one who died in a cabin that burned down in 2008, and the other who had helped build the cabin. Not far from the memorial site is a covered BBQ station that was built in their memory.
Snow shoes weren’t required on this hike as half the trail didn’t have snow and closer to the lookout the snow was packed down from previous hikers. The snow at the top was about four inches deep (as of December 29, 2015). I prefer hiking the trails when the snow is packed down – you’re less likely to trip over a tree root and puddles are infrequent. You may want to check the weather conditions beforehand.
This is a great little winter hike that doesn’t take up much time in your day and the view is almost as good as the Mount Benson summit. Watch for little signs on the trees. They’ll point you in the direction of the summit trail…. or shenanigans.
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