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Photo by: Sam Vandervalk
Photo by: Sam Vandervalk

Parksville

If you want to relax along the peaceful coastline, Parksville can be an ecapist’s paradise. Often featured as one of the premier locations to be visited in Vancouver Island for young families, Parkville’s natural, laid back culture, along with its easy accessibility and central locations will make you want to come back again and again.
Parksville enjoys one of the finest climates in all Canada. There are six provincial parks located within thirty minutes drive for easy and moderate walking. A popular destination spot for tourists during the summer, Parksville’s spectacular views of the Strait of Georgia and the Vancouver Island Mountain Range, capped with snow even on a hot summer beach day, only adds to this quiet communities charm.

Fast Facts


population icon 33

Population: 

Approx. 11,977


Location: Parksville can be found 12 km south of Qualicum Beach, 37 kilometers north of Nanaimo on Highway 19; 150 km north of Victoria.


The Oceanside Route Hwy 19A goes parallel to the Inland Island Highway Hwy 19,; this route offers some wonderful sights as it follows close to the beaches and goes through Qualicum Beach and Parksville city.

Brant Wildlife Festival

If you happen to come to Parksville in April, you might think that Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” has become a reality. The annual Brant Wildlife Festival celebrates the migration of nearly 20,000 Black Brant geese from California and Mexico to their summer breeding grounds in Alaska. The beaches between Qualicum and Parksville host the annual migration of thousands of Brant Geese.

The Parksville Sand Castles:

The Parksville Beach Festival, held in August, hosts the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition. Tens of thousands of visitors are attracted annually to this event. The creations are made during early August, but they still remain standing until the end of the month.

Parksville Beach

Parksville summers can be described in three words: sun, swimwear and beaches. It is an excellent location to spot and spend time relaxing on the exposed shorelines. The sand here is like cement, and the long tides makes it perfect for making sand castles.

Rhododendron Lake

Some of the most beautiful and dynamic natural colors on the island can be found on each spring, late May or early June. Pink rhododendrons, growing wild on the shoreline of this beautiful lake are a spectacular sight. Botanists believe these species belong to a strain that survived the Ice Age. Access to Rhododendron Lake and the 5-acre groove is by private logging road. You can find signs posted at the entrance to Northwest Bay Logging Division, located approximately 7.2 km south of Parksville.

Outdoor Activities


Kayaking

The mild conditions and the vast coastline makes Parksville a perfect place for kayakers just starting out. If you don’t have the gear, local outfitters will provide you with everything you need, lessons included. A good place to launch and set out on a treek is the federal dock at French Creek.


Hammerfest

Adventurous mountain bikers will enjoy the challenging trails located at Hammerfest Race Course, which mixes fast logging road with narrow, technical single-track 6.7 miles. An easier challenge can be found at Top Bridge Mountain Bike Park on the Englishman River, where moderate adventuring awaits. To reach the park, turn west off Highway 14, weight scales at Kaye Road, then turn to Chattell Road and follow its end.


Fishing

Several angling options are available around Parksville, depending upon the season.  Salmon are caught in June and July is the waters off French Creek, 5 km north of Parksville on Hwy 19A. The annual Coho salmon run up in front of French Creek  Harbour along the beach in October. French Creek Marina has a  public boat launch adjacent to the federal dock and Lasqueti Island Ferry. For more on Vancouver Island salmon fishing


Short Hikes

Little Qualicum Falls  Provincial Park and Englishman River Falls  provide some meandering trails that will speak to the heart of anyone who enjoys the sound and the feel of nature. A mere walk in the park is needed to enjoy the spectacular views.  Mount Arrowsmith Trail, ascending the lower slopes of Mount Arrowsmith then keeps ascending all the way up to the 1.829-metre summit of Mt. Arrowsmith   is a good location for those who want a little more adventure. At a leisurely pace, the hike is a long day long, a two day overnighter.


Skatepark

Waterfront skatepark is an ideal location for skateboarders, BMX riders, and in-line skaters. This park is regarded as one of the best skate parks on Vancouver Island.


Marinas

Public boat launches are provided at French Creek Marina, located on the Island Highway between Qualicum Beach and Parksville. Marinas with moorage are available in Beachcomber Marina, Nanoose Bay and Schooner Cove. All three are friendly and welcome visitors, offering full services nearby, restaurants included.

Provincial Parks & Caving

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park:

beach iconThe biggest and one of the most popular beaches in the area, offers great swimming conditions, depending upon the season. This beach is one of the vastest expanses of beach sand in all BC, the beach stretching out nearly a kilometer out of the sea when the tide is low. Strait of Georgia waters tend to warm up quickly during summer, as the tide rises over the hot sand making it one of the best swimming locations on the entire island. Plenty of campsites can be found in the park, but they fill up quickly, so calling ahead of time is recommended. The beach gets its name from the Rath family, who once owned the land where the park resides.

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park:

park2 iconThis park is one of highlights of the area is worth exploring in any season. The trails go along the Little Qualicum River and in the warmer months you can bring your swimming gear to enjoy the crystal clear water.

Englishman River Falls Provincial Park:

park3 iconThis park has old and second growth forest of Douglas fir, hemlock, red cedar and western maple.  The waterfall is located south of Errington on the picturesque Englishman River. Tumbling down on a narrow canyon the waterfall is the main piece of this 97-hectare park that has walking trails along cliffed banks of the river.

Cedar Grove

cove iconMacMillan Provincial Park is home to the infamous stand of ancient and resilient Douglas Fir known as Cathedral Grove. Its hundreds of feet tall canopy shelter visitors, leaving them amazed at the magnificence of these Vancouver Island marvels. Some of the Douglas-fir here are 800 years old, attracting and captivating visitors leaving them humbled by their natural enormity. Trails can be found on either side of the highway. The northern trail goes through groves of ancient Western Red Cedar toward the shores of Cameron Lake while the south loop showcases the largest Douglas-fir trees, biggest one measuring over 9 meters in circumference. MacMillan can be found on Highway 4 on the shores of Cameron Lake, 17 miles west of Qualicum Beach.

Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park- Caves

park1 iconAnyone into spelunking? Squeezing, bending, crawling through this unique cave network is not an opportunity to be missed. Seven caves in the Horne Lake Cave system are protected by the park. Tours are available from July through August. There is a small fee, but the friendly and knowledgeable guides from Canadian Cave Conservancy will help you have an unforgettable adventure. As an alternative, self-guided tours are available to Main Cave and Lower Main Cave throughout the year.  Tip: Grab your boots, warm clothes flashlights and headlamps. Adrenaline junkies should t ry the Riverbed Bottoming trip. This is a 3-4 hour guided tour that leads you through a series of vertical pits, deepest one being nearly 19 meters.

>Kulth Music Festival

festival icon Every mid-July, the Kulth Music Fest is a unique venue held in many communities near Qualicum and Parksville. The festival was born as a method to celebrate and protect the natural environment through music and entertainment. It is a great experience for people of all age—artists, international and local are invited performing music in their preferred styles

History

The first Europeans to discover and explore this part of Vancouver Island were the Spanish voyagers in 1791. E & N Railroad built its right of way to McBridge Junction in 1901. Parksville was regarded a village in 1945, town in 1978 and finally city in 1986. It was name in honor of Nelson Parks, its first postmaster.