Covid lockdowns may be challenging and you may feel confined both by your face masks and need to remain physical distanced. However, there are so many wonderful places to safely explore outdoors which can improve your mental health by promoting some much needed exercise, and connecting you to nature.

Hiking and exploring the Trans Canada Trail around south Nanaimo

Today’s blog post will explore one small section of the Trans Canada Trail!

Click the photo to Learn about Exploring the Trans Canada Trail

The section of the Trans Canada Trail we are exploring today is located in the Regional District of Nanaimo (Vancouver Island) which includes Extension Trail and the mysterious Abyss and spiritual Labyrinth.

The Regional District of Nanaimo map illustrating our days hiking excursion route.

The photos on this blog post reflect two separate hiking excursions–both occurring during autumn (October 8th and November 5th). This is a lovely time of the year to go hiking around Vancouver Island as the weather is a bit cool, there are usually very few annoying flying insects, and snow and ice have not yet arrived.

The Extension Ridge Trail. My friend and I perched on the lookout stumps named “The Thrones”.

The deciduous trees have started dropping leaves which provides colorful surrounding foliage. Sometimes it can be a bit wet or muddy in sections; but if you wear good hiking boots and use walking poles (optional), this is a fun way to connect with nature, breathe fresh air and get some exercise!

In addition to coniferous trees (Cedar, Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Pine), there are great quantities of Arbutus often shedding their reddish bark along this trail.

There are extensive trail options to explore. It is a fascinating geological area as the Nanaimo region has an extensive history of coal mining and is also in an earthquake zone.

There are signs indicating “Keep dogs on leashes” posted around the Abyss.

The “Abyss” is a famous natural landmark on this trail. The origin of this substantial deep crack is attributed to a combination of underground coal mining and more recent earthquake activity. In spite of its obvious safety hazard, nearly every year rescue personnel are called to try and save dogs that have fallen down into the deep crevice!

My HCNC Hiking Group checks out the depth and length of “The Abyss” crack!

This following blog post from Tourism Nanaimo offers additional information about these trails and their history.

Click the photo to learn more about The Abyss from Tourism Nanaimo

Continuing along the Extension Ridge Trail past the Abyss, you will encounter more Arbutus forests and stunning views of the ocean and surrounding islands. There is a lookout spot with two large stumps which the locals call “The Thrones”.

The “Thrones” and beautiful views of the ocean and surrounding islands.

When you arrive at the “Fairy Circle” junction you can select your next path choice. If you head left, you will discover “The Labyrinth” where you can quietly walk through the maze and meditate or contemplate life.

The Fairy Ring and The Labyrinth on Extension Ridge Trail

This interesting moderate level hike takes about 3-4 hours to explore. There are lots of adjourning trails so your adventure could easily continue much longer if you wished.

Future blog posts will share more beautiful hiking locations around Nanaimo and trips exploring southern Vancouver Island.

Keep safe and keep optimistic. Cheers. S