I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
Mount Benson Regional Park in the Nanaimo Area
Mount Benson Regional Park is near Nanaimo, British Columbia. This park is accessible via the Nanaimo Parkway, Jingle Pot Road, and Kilpatrick Road. It is in an area that is loaded with trails of different lengths and types. Furthermore, Westwood Lake is also in the larger area and it is connected to Mount Benson Regional Park via trails. You really could go into this area and enjoy a full day of hiking if you were so inclined.
The parking lot for Mount Benson Regional Park seemed really new and modern, there was a lot of parking, and there was a clear trailhead area when I visited this park in August of 2020 (the last video shows the parking lot a little and the trailhead map). I went to the area without much of a plan except to spend 2–3 hours hiking. I was looking for a couple of hours of difficult exercise and the Witchcraft Trail featured in this.
For those that are looking to get to the summit of Mount Benson, the parking lot's trailhead marker offered advice. It said that it would take 5–6 hours of hiking. This surprised me a little because the mountain didn't look that high, however, perhaps the route is a winding one.
Mount Benson Regional Park
Witchcraft Lake and the Witchcraft Trail
Witchcraft Lake, a stop on my hike, was disappointing. When I looked at it on Google Maps, I wasn't sure what to expect. I could see that it wasn't that big but I was still hoping for a swimming area. I didn't find one, unfortunately, but that still left hiking to do.
The Witchcraft Trail had an easy segment to it alongside the lake. There were basically just gentle changes in elevation and not much of a challenge. For a time, it was more of a leisurely walk than a calorie-burning hike.
However, when I took a turn on the trail up the mountain, the path at that point didn't really resemble a planned trail. Furthermore, I wasn't exactly sure what trail I was on, although I thought I was still on The Witchcraft Trail. For certain, I was in the vicinity of Witchcraft Lake. It was only after getting back to the parking lot that I was able to figure out the route I took.
But I knew I was on a marked trail the entire time because the trees had orange markers on them that kept me oriented. These were nice to have because they assured me that I wasn't just walking through the forest aimlessly. This part of my day hike was difficult, it had a lot of loose rocks for footing, and I would note it as difficult terrain for the area. I only came across one person during this section of the hike. In the following video, I lament a little about the difficult trail conditions but at least I was burning calories.
A Trail Near Witchcraft Lake in Mount Benson Regional Park
Early Viewpoint Part Way Up the Mount Benson Trail
The difficult and unstable portion of my day hike up Mount Benson from Witchcraft Lake took me about an hour. The footing was difficult, it was slow going, and I was happy that I had my hiking stick for balancing at time.
I certainly did not get anywhere close to the summit, however, that was not my goal for the day. I did come to a nice viewpoint that was on the Mount Benson Trail, a viewpoint which I made a video of. If you are looking for a short hike, then you can use the Mount Benson Trail to get to this viewpoint.
Viewpoint Part Way Up Mount Benson
Final Thoughts on My Day Hike
The route I took was about 2 hours and 20 minutes but I was a slow hiker in 2020 at about 260 pounds (I've since trimmed down—no doubt thanks to hiking). The route was well shaded, the only freshwater source for pets was at Witchcraft Lake, and the viewpoint was satisfying.
If you want to duplicate the route I took, then watch the final video. In it, I narrate a little about my day hike but at the 2:20 mark, I come back to the parking lot and film the trailhead map. At that point, I highlight the route that I walked. I used the Witchcraft Trail and the Benson View Regional Trail.