It’s been quite a while since we’ve required the use of a stroller in this house. However, getting out of the house when my kids were young was an absolute must. And trail walking was something I really enjoyed. Plus, enquiries about stroller friendly trails is a frequent request from our readers. And I aim to please!
Please read on for a list of more than 10 stroller friendly trails in Nanaimo.
Roberts Memorial Provincial Park
Location: Yellow Point
Park entrance is off of Yellow Point Road.
Length of Trail: Approximately 1 km (in one direction)
Follow the trail through second-growth Douglas fir all the way to the beautiful Stewart Channel. The ‘beach’ you end up on is a collection of large and rather unique rock formations. It’s a great location for wildlife viewing.
The trail is relatively easy with only a few steeper sections on the way back up. It can sometimes be muddy, though.
We used to live near Roberts Memorial Park and walked this trail frequently when my children were young (and in strollers).
Nanaimo River Regional Park
Location: South Nanaimo
Park entrances are located on Fry Rd (off Nanaimo River Rd, off Hwy 1) and Frey Rd (off Emblem Rd, off Thatcher Rd, off Main Rd, off Morden Rd, off Hwy 1).
Length of Trail: Approximately 2 km (in one direction)
This is a groomed flat level trail that follows along the Nanaimo River. The park is one of the few remaining examples of a mature coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem along the lower reaches of the Nanaimo River. It’s a beautiful place to walk on a warm sunny day.
Hemer Provincial Park
Location: Cedar – at the end of Hemer Road
Length of Trail(s): 11 km’s of varying trails
Approximately 11 kilometres of easy walking trails weave through the park along Holden Lake and through the marsh areas. The trails are forested, primarily with mature coastal Douglas fir, red alder and big-leaf maple (it’s a beautiful park in the Fall). Trails are not marked but are easily identifiable and well maintained.
A viewing platform over the marsh, approximately 1 km from the parking lot, provides the opportunity to observe various types of ducks, Trumpeter swans, Bald eagles and turkey vultures, as well as beavers.
Cable Bay Trail
Location: Cedar – Parking area and trailhead can be found at the end of Nicola Road.
Length of Trail: Just under 2 km – one way (although you can cross the bridge and continue on to Dodd Narrows if you wish for more)
Cable Bay Trail is a good one if you are looking for a great workout, as it’s quite steep on the way back up. I put it on this list because the trail is well maintained. It also provides amazing views at the bottom and is a great place to spot sea lions – something kids love. It’s also one I frequented with my stroller strapped children while living in the area, and it never got old.
Cable Bay Trail is one of Nanaimo’s designated dog off-leash parks. So if you have both dog and baby, this trail is a must!
Morrel Nature Sanctuary
Location: Central Nanaimo – 787 Nanaimo Lakes Road
Length of Trail(s): There are approximately 11 km’s of trail systems within this park
Morrell Nature Sanctuary has two great trails that are stroller friendly. The shorter Yew Loop is a designated wheel-chair accessible trail that also provides visually appealing gnomes for children to gawk at. There is also a larger loop which follows the old fire lane and takes you to the lake and back. Please note: the longer trail is gated, so will require you to fold up the stroller to get it through.
Location: Mid Nanaimo – Westwood Road (off the south end of Jingle Pot Road)
Length of Trail: 5.5 km loop
The well-maintained trail that circles around the outer edges of Westwood Lake is a relatively easy walk, even with a stroller. However, there is one steeper section near the west end of the lake that may have you huffing and puffing. If you are looking for something less strenuous, head to the south end of the lake and take the shorter loop.
For those with dogs in tow, there is an off-leash area underneath the power lines. You will find this area about half-way around the 5.5 km loop. Unless in that designated off-leash area, dogs must remain on a leash at all times (it’s strictly enforced).
Location: Off of Jingle Pot Road – the main entrance is on 2nd Street, but there is parking available off of Buttertubs Drive as well.
Length of Trail: 2 km loop
Buttertubs Marsh is a bird and wildlife sanctuary just minutes from downtown Nanaimo. Spend an hour or so meandering along the flat and easy gravel trail, making sure to stop every once and a while to enjoy the view. There is usually lots of activity here to keep your little one(s) occupied with plenty of birds to view. If you are lucky you may even spot turtles and frogs.
Please note: there are narrow entry gates to prevent motorized vehicles from entering the marsh. These gates might make it difficult to enter and exit with a stroller, if not foldable.
Location: Mid-Nanaimo (500 Bowen Road)
Length of Trail(s): Varies
Meander through a series of interpretive trails along the Millstone River. Along the way make sure to see the ducks at the pond, view the scenic waterfall, fish ladder, and resting totem poles, and maybe stop to admire the grand rhododendron grove (when in season).
This one has no particular length, as it is a series of varying trails. Spend an hour or an afternoon! There is always something to see and do here.
Location: Access points (and parking) at Maffeo Sutton Park as well as the parkade located across the road from the Bastion Hotel.
Length of Trail: Can be up to 5 km long (see below)
The waterfront walkway takes you along a paved path that follows Nanaimo’s harbour. As you stroll past waterfront condominiums, dockyards, and small stores and restaurants, you have views of both Newcastle and Protection Island.
To make this an approximately 5 km loop, park your vehicle at Maffeo Sutton Park and walk to the Yacht Club and back. Then follow the walkway towards downtown Nanaimo and walk all the way to (and around) Cameron Island. Then head back to your vehicle at Maffeo Sutton Park.
Location: Various access points
Length of Trail: 20 km
This is a paved, multi-use trail that runs along the Parkway Highway. The trail provides access to Colliery Dam, Morrell Sanctuary, Westwood Lake, Vancouver Island University, Buttertubs Marsh, Bowen Park, and Millstone River.
The 20-kilometre paved path connects South Nanaimo near Extention Road in Chase River to North Nanaimo near the “Welcome to Nanaimo” sign at Mary Ellen Drive. Here and there, it explores forested areas surrounding the parks mentioned above and also dips under and over the highway through tunnels and via bridges.
A great mid-way access point (with good parking) can be found near the Northfield Exit at the Visitor Centre. From there you can walk the trail in either direction.
Location: North Nanaimo – at the end of Morningside Drive (off Hammond Bay Road)
Length of Trail: Approximately 1.5 km
The outer loop at Neck Point is wide and well maintained and perfect for strollers. While you are walking through the forested area, make sure to point out the fairy houses to your little one(s). The trail leads towards a beautiful beach area. Unfortunately, in order to continue walking along the shoreline, there are several boardwalks with stairs, as well as rocky knolls to contend with. So unless you are up for the challenge, I suggest heading back the same way you came.
It’s a beautiful shaded walk that is especially welcoming during the hot summer months.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I haven’t had to seek out stroller friendly trails in quite some time. So if you feel I have missed a great one in Nanaimo, please let us know in the comments section below.
For similar trails in the Parksville and Qualicum Beach areas, read this article: Easy Trails in Oceanside