The Cowichan Valley Trail is a spectacular multi-use trail that is an integral part of the Trans-Canada Trail route on Southern Vancouver Island. From the south end of Shawnigan Lake to the Town of Lake Cowichan, the trail follows the gentle grade of the former turn of the century CN railway line and recently rehabilitated Kinsol Trestle that served pioneer logging and settlement communities. In 2010 portions of the trail through the Municipality of North Cowichan were completed, as well as new sections linking Saltair and Ladysmith to the Nanaimo Regional District. In 2011 sections of the trail were completed from the Town of Lake Cowichan to Sherman Road following the former E&N rail grade, as well as extending north of Chemainus towards Saltair.
To date there is a total of 92 km of constructed trail plus 28 km of road that is currently part of the trail system. Of the 28 km of road, approximately 23 km will be replaced at some point in the future with constructed trail with only 5 km remaining on roads to complete the 120 km Cowichan Valley Trail.
In 2014, under the newly signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Malahat Nation, work began to collaborate on the planning and construction of the trail connection from Sooke Lake Road in Shawnigan Lake, south to the Galloping Goose Trail in the Capital Regional District. This will complete a key section of the Cowichan Valley Trail.
How to Get There
For an up-to-date map of the Cowichan Valley Trail please click here
The main access points ot the Cowichan Valley Trail are listed below and each area has parking and a formal trail head.
Lake Cowichan Staging Area: From the Trans Canada Highway, turn west onto Cowichan Valley Highway (Hwy 18)…follow into Town of Lake Cowichan (Hwy becomes South Shore Road). Left on King George, Right on Wellington…Look for the trail information centre on the right and the trailhead kiosk on the left.
Sooke Lake Road Staging Area: From the Trans Canada Hwy, turn onto S. Shawnigan Lake Road, left onto Sooke Lake Road. The Staging Area is located on the right, approximately two minutes down the road.
Glenora Trails Head Park: From the Trans Canada Highway, turn west onto Trunk Road, left onto Allenby Road (turns into Indian Road), Right onto Glenora Road, Right onto Vaux Road (turns into Robertson Road). The staging area is located on the left near Cowichan River Provincial Park.
Kinsol Trestle South Side: From the Trans Canada Highway, turn west onto Hutchinson Road, Left onto Cobble Hill Road (turns into Shawnigan Lake Road), Right onto Renfrew Road, Right onto Glen Eagles Road, Right onto Shelby Road. The parking lot is located on the left. (note) Public access to the trestle is only from the south side of the trestle along Renfrew Road and GlenEagles Road.
The Kinsol, Holt Creek, Marie Canyon, and McGee Creek Trestles have been restored for hiking, cycling, and equestrian use as part of the rail / trail experience. The historic Kinsol Trestle, reportedly the highest wooden rail trestle in Canada, is now open to the public. Efforts are underway to complete remaining sections of the Cowichan Valley Trail route through the Region, which will eventually connect to the Galloping Goose Trail in the Capital Regional District and to Nanaimo Regional District’s section of the Trans Canada Trail. Once fully in place, the 122 km (75.8 mile) route will link communities across the region as a world-class, uninterrupted trail experience for use and enjoyment by residents and visitors alike.