In our quest to find great hiking trails by rushing rivers and/or waterfalls, we hit the jackpot today with a fantastic 7km hike on the Skutz Falls Trail along the Cowichan River. Contrary to the name, we did not see any falls, (they are further upriver) but that didn’t matter.
With its headwaters in Cowichan Lake, the river makes its way to Cowichan Bay where it forms a very large and ecologically important estuary. In the summer the river flows well but is gentle enough to support a very vibrant river tubing industry. It also reported to be one of the best trout fishing rivers in BC but Derek has yet to make that come true. In the fall, the salmon make their way up to spawn and then die along the banks, providing lots of food for seagulls and wildlife, as well as adding a certain aroma into the air which was not pleasant! In the fall/winter, as we saw it today, the volume of water is much higher and made for some spectacular vistas.
The best feature of this trail is being able to walk along the river’s edge and then making your way up 30+m and seeing the river from up high on the banks. This undulation, and with stretches through the woods make it a very memorable walk.
The water was flowing very fast, and created some mini rapids in places and was squeezed into some canyon-like stretches that reminded us of Barron Canyon in Ottawa. Watching it was mesmerizing and listening to the sounds of rushing water was soothing and energizing at the same time.
The other star of the show was the vegetation. I loved seeing all the different tree shapes, most of them covered with very thick moss, in varying shades of green. Sometimes we were sure the Ents were tracking us. But we made it safely back, thankful for the blue skies that graced us most of the way and the rain that held off, making it a delightful walk in the woods.