Hiking in Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park
A variety of viewpoints can be reached from the main trail, which leads up and down Carmanah Creek from the Carmanah Valley Trailhead. A junction 1.3 km from the Trailhead offers visitors the opportunity to travel upstream toward August Creek, or downstream toward the Randy Stoltmann Commemorative Grove.
- Coast Tower: Length 1.2 km. Average one-way hiking time: 20 minutes from the Trailhead. This easy day hike on a maintained gravel trail brings hikers to the Coast Tower, a massive Sitka spruce located at the base of the trail leading in the lower Carmanah Creek Valley. This giant tree used to be 92 metres in height until the top 30 metres blew off in winter storms in 1997. A viewing platform is located at the Coast Tower, which is the first big spruce you come across in the Valley. Note: The viewing platform is closed due to public safety reasons.
- Junction: Length 1.3 km. Average one-way hiking time: 25 minutes. From the parking lot, this is the junction of the trail. From here hikers can head upstream or downstream. Turn left to go to the Upper Valley Trail, which heads toward Three Sisters, Grunts Grove, Paradise Pool and August Creek. Turn right to head downstream toward Heaven Tree and the Randy Stoltmann Commemorative Grove.
- Three Sisters: Length 1.5 km. Average one-way hiking time: 40 minutes upstream from the Junction. An elevated viewing platform at Three Sisters provides visitors with a unique perspective of three breathtaking Sitka spruce trees, all growing from the same spot. These trees are approximately 78-79 metres high. Wilderness camping is allowed here on the large sandbar beside Carmanah Creek. Pit toilets are located here as well. The boardwalk portions of the trail end after Three Sisters.
- Grunt’s Grove: (Please note that the trail is not maintained beyond Three Sisters.) Length 4 km. Average one-way hiking time: 1.25 hours from the Junction. Continue past Three Sisters to Grunts Grove, where you will find a majestic stand of Sitka spruce with adjacent camping on gravel bars. A great number of spruce seedlings can be found growing on the sandbars, which is where spruce trees typically start their life in Carmanah. There are also some large logjams on the creek near Grunts Grove.
- Paradise Pool: (Please note that the trail is not maintained beyond Three Sisters.) Length 5.5 km. Average one-way hiking time: 2 hours from the Junction. Paradise Pool is a small crystal clear pool where the creek drops slightly. The clear waters are home to tiny Cutthroat trout and the occasional crayfish. Cougar tracks can often be seen in the mud on the trail where a cougar has come down to drink the cool fresh water. The pool is quite deep in places and has a nice sandy bottom. It might look like a nice place to swim, however the water in Carmanah is very cold - even in the hottest and driest of summers.
- August Creek: (Please note that the trail is not maintained beyond Three Sisters.) Length 7.5 km. Average one-way hiking time: 3.5 hours from the Junction. August Creek is a small intact watershed that flows into Carmanah from a high reverse valley. It is the largest creek that flows into Carmanah. Backcountry camping opportunities exist on the sandbar just downstream of the confluence of August and Carmanah Creek. There are no pit toilets here. This is the most upstream campsite in the valley; maintained trails end at August Creek.
- Heaven Tree: Length 1.0 km. Average one-way hiking time: 30 minutes downstream from the Junction. This impressive Sitka spruce is approximately 77 metres tall and is one of the broadest spruce trees in the Valley with a diameter of 3.5 metres.
- Randy Stoltmann Commemorative Grove: (Formerly Heaven Grove) Length 1.3 km. Average one-way hiking time: 50 minutes downstream from the Junction. The impressive stand of Sitka spruce trees in this grove range in size from approximately 75 – 89 metres in height. These trees all compete for light and are growing tall as they reach for the sun. A kiosk at this site offers information about the Carmanah and Randy Stoltmann. This site is the terminus of the downstream trail.