I am finally getting around to putting together a ‘get-to’ guide for one of my favorite hikes on Vancouver Island. This is the hike with the famous rope swing at the peak.
There have been multiple comments on the All Trails App that this particular hike is on a private property, I cannot confirm nor deny this, however as far to my understanding and based on the signs around the foot of the trail the hike is not located on a private property, otherwise I would have not proceeded with it.
This trail is located in the area of Shawnigan Lake, located approximately 45 minutes drive from Victoria or 1 hour from Nanaimo and it should not take you longer than 1 Hour round trip hiking.
The mountain peak you are looking for is the Old Baldy Mountain Loop. The hike itself is very easy and short, however it has a decent incline throughout – partly through small rocks, partly through gravel. As can be expected, there will be a line to get a video/photo on the swing, therefore I’d strongly advise to go first thing in the morning or during weekdays, where you might have less individuals hiking.
To get to the entrance of the trail, the easiest way is to type St. John’s Academy Shawnigan Lake into your GPS/Google Maps. Once you approach St. John’s Academy (it should be on your right) continue driving until you see an overhead bridge, pass the bridge and take the next right which is going to be McKernan Road; take a right once again to Gallant Road. Shortly thereafter you will reach an intersection at which you should take a left onto Baldy Mountain Road. Following the road, take right onto Hawkins Road. This road turns into Strathcona Heights Road after couple hundred meters. Follow this road for about 750 meters and you should notice some cars parked on the side of the road (there is no designated car parking).
Once you see a yellow steel barrier on the left, you know you are at the bottom of the trailhead. Referring to my previous comment above, you will see that there are Private Property Signs nearby, however they are only located on the land to the left of the trail (the trail head is actually like a road). Therefore in my understanding it is clear the property is only private outside of the road.
This would be a nice half day trip for anyone from Victoria or a nice stop over on your route elsewhere on the island and its definitely children and pet friendly. The Shawnigan Lake itself is a beautiful spot to swim in the summer time.
I am making a list of other potential ‘Hidden Gems’ across BC – Vancouver and Vancouver Island primarily. If there is a place you would like me to check out or can recommend, please let me know in the comments below.