The Hike that Took My Breath Away

Sleepy-eyed on a morning after the day it snowed (after the weekend I was on the beach with my t-shirt on), my neighbour invited me to hike up Maple Mountain. She raved about a new trail that she’d discovered the week before and wanted to share it with me.

We easily found the Orange trail head (all the walks on Maple Mountain are colour-coded) off Arbutus Road. We headed straight up for about 10 minutes along a squishy mud trail with enough rocks in it to stop us from slipping down on our knees. I was well awake by the time we got to what my neighbour described as “just a walk in a lovely park”.  Moss-covered rocks and tall arbutus and fir trees were spaced just enough to stream the sunlight in.

Another five minutes along this path and we walked out of the forest and into a meadow of wrinkly old Garry Oaks. To our left was a view of the Cowichan Valley that took my breath away. Slightly embarrassed by the fact that I was nearly moved to tears by something so simple (it was early!), I put some distance between me and my neighbour.

I felt like I was standing inside a panoramic picture in a Cowichan Tourism brochure. I looked out to a full 180 (maybe more) degree view that included Maple Bay, Mount Tzouhalem, Quamichan Lake and Mount Prevost.

After inhaling deeply, as though I could somehow breath in the beauty beneath me, I caught up to my neighbour who was pointing the way to a side path. “Come see the most amazing part of this whole walk,” she said. We hiked up to a mossy platform upon which sat a gorgeous wooden bench from which we could sit and take in the valley view.

“Who put this here?” I asked her as I sat down on the dewy plank. “They did,” she replied. “They?” I asked. “Yes, They,” she said with a smirk. They, we guess, is the Municipality of North Cowichan, to whom we are grateful.

I thought about including a picture here, but a picture can’t capture the impact of standing on top of where you love to live. You’ll just have to go see it for yourself.

You can find a map and directions on the Maple Bay Ratepayer’s website.


  1. Great blog, Maeve. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm and discoveries. I consider myself a newcomer to the region even after two and half years of living here. So many trails yet to hike, winding roads yet to venture down/up, views yet to gape at, shops yet to wander, and purveyors of fine food and drink yet to visit…. Maple Mountain will be soon!

    1. Thanks Georgina. So much to do and a lifetime to do it! And endless things to write about. Enjoy Maple Mountain when you get to it.


  2. Beautiful description of this hike Maeve, we just got back with a group yesterday and will get photos up soon. This hike is in my top three on the Southern Island for hikes next to East Sooke Park and Gowlland Tod ridgeline trail.

    There’s also a gem of a hike along the Cowichan River we love to do during hot summer days. There are a few “hidden pools” past the trestle that are just lovely.

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