I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
Maple Mountain Forest Reserve Trailhead Area
Crofton, British Columbia is off of the Trans Canada Highway between the towns of Duncan and Ladysmith and not far from the small town of Chemainus (which is also off of the Trans Canada). Crofton is a small town that some will be familiar with because there is a ferry terminal.
You can connect to Salt Spring Island, the largest and most populated island in the Southern Gulf Islands, from Crofton with connections on that island to the mainland or to Victoria, British Columbia. In fact, there is a way to get from Crofton to Vancouver using ferries and transit busses if you find yourself stuck in the area and unable to get to the major ferry terminals.
Hiking and nature enthusiasts will likely know of the hiking-trail network that's just out of Crofton on Osborne Bay Road. I visited this network in the summer of 2020 for what was a first-time visit.
The name of the park that I visited was Maple Mountain Forest Reserve. This was a park that I was not overly impressed with and I would not recommend it for those that don't have a ton of time to spend on Vancouver Island. However, I started out optimistically as you will see in the following video of the trailhead area.
Maple Mountain Forest Reserve Near Crofton
The Trail Network Wasn't Great for a First Timer
I've hiked in loads of parks and I am constantly looking for new adventures. In this park, as a newbie to the network, I had a little bit of trouble staying oriented. This is definitely a park where you will want to be hiking with the assistance of data on your iPhone or cellular along with trail-hiking apps.
I had a goal of getting out to a lake but there were times when I was not really sure which way I wanted to go to get to that lake. There were plenty of trails but there were also logging roads. It was hard to tell sometimes whether the logging roads were part of the trail system or not.
Another criticism I had of this forest reserve, was that it wasn't the most beautiful area. Despite the network name calling it a "Forest Reserve" it kind of looked like the area had been logged. I spent a lot of time on a trail that looked like a logging road. When I was on proper trails, I felt that they were narrow.
Mainly I hiked a trail that was called "Tony's Arbutus." I did find a viewpoint that was named "Mary's View" according to a sign that was posted. There were inukshuks there and a decent view of the area but it wasn't overly impressive. I remember leaving this park feeling like I never got to what I was looking for.
Mary's View in Maple Mountain Forest Reserve Near Crofton
Other Trails and Networks More Recommended
Sometimes writing about travel means advising where not to go. I can't honestly recommend this park for hikers based on my experience yet. I may check out some of the other trails in the future. There were some cyclists in this park and that's a bad thing for hikers when dealing with narrow trails. I did not come across any other hikers so I would say that part of Vancouver Island is not the most popular with trail hikers.
I would recommend a leisurely walk around Chemainus Lake before entering the Maple Mountain Forest Reserve off of Osborne Road and taking Tony's Arbutus Trail. I also liked the Cobble Hill Regional Park better than the trails near Crofton. Lastly, I think tourists in this area will like the trails near Holland Creek in Ladysmith better.
I certainly won't say that I did all the trails near Crofton. However, from what I saw, which was mainly the Tony Arbutus Trail, I can't recommend visiting.
That trail has a 4-star review at Alltrails.com and really, that's not that high. It seems like I may have missed out a little as the top-rated trail in the area from the same parking lot is the Crofton Lake Trail. If you are interested in this park, then have a go at that hike instead.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Shane Lambert