Carmanah Valley has always felt like a bit of a magical place to me, where else can you walk among giant trees that have been standing for several hundred or even a millennium. Just trying to think back to what was going on in the world when those trees had started growing is a fascinating experience. The sad truth when it comes to this is that these trees and habitat are extremely rare. There is less than 2% of this type of old growth habitat still left in BC, and the rough and bumpy road required to access this park winds through the swathes of clear cuts that demonstrate the immense scale of the forest industry.
While there is not much of this habitat left we are lucky to have what we do have as it is truly specular. Spending time amount these living giants is not something that can easily be described and is best experienced for oneself if at all possible. Other than access being a little tricky due to the fact you are required to travel on rough logging roads for about 2.5 hours (one way) to gain access to the park. Once reached the park offers easy walking and lovely camping if desired with some of the most spectacular views I have experienced on Vancouver Island.
While there is a trail much of it is no longer maintained and some of the boardwalks and wooden structures are starting to show the side effects of being located in a rainforest.
One of the more famous attractions of the park is the “three sisters”, a trio of huge sitka spruces arranged in a triangle with a platform that allows for visitors to gain a unique perspective of these huge trees.
Looking up between the “three sisters”
If you are planning a visit there are some great camping opportunities if you are will to hike down to the gravel bar that is near the three sisters. What more can you ask for, camping among ancient giants next to a lovely river.
Carmanah is a unique jewel and will leave a lasting impression on visitors, if you are able to make the trip out that way you will not be disappointed. The only downside is that after seeing these giant trees “normal” trees just don’t have the same impact they once did.