When autumn makes its presence known, you might be busy planning for all the upcoming holidays that seem to parade in and take over our domestic lives. But don’t give up on time with nature. Take some time to get out and enjoy the outdoors before you have to scrape your windshield in the morning.
One notable natural place is the mighty Mount Maxwell on Salt Spring Island. It is a provincial park, and therefore protected and maintained. Included in the park are picnic tables and a pit toilet. You cannot camp here, so planning your day early is important unless you are planning to stay in one of the many B&B’s here on the Island.
Mount Maxwell’s History and What to Expect during your Visit
The history of the park extends back about 3,000 years ago, judging by the middens found around the base of the mountain near Burgoyne Bay. Cowichan First Nations calls it “Hwmat’estum”, which means “bent over place”. Past visitors have reported feeling a sense of spiritual splendour there, and that’s a great reason to go, see, and feel for yourself.
The park covers 231 hectares of land and has expanded to include Canada’s largest Garry Oak meadow. Next to the park is an ecological reserve that helps endangered species such as turkey vultures, various types of bats, and Peregrine falcons; all of them find refuge here. Today, it is one of the largest protected areas on the Southern Gulf Islands.
How to Get to Mount Maxwell, plus a few Safety Tips for Exploration
Once you make the long bumpy ride up here, there will be a few different routes to take depending on how energetic you feel or depending on the company you are with. From casual strolling to vigorous hikes, you will be covered. The trails are about 6 km in total and all start in the parking lot.
Dogs should be on a leash and that is because some of the trails run close to the edge of the cliffs, so extreme caution should be used. There will most likely be some wildlife sightings while hiking, such as Blacktail deer or wild sheep and goats. Black bears have also been sighted here too; not so nice unless you’re at a far distance out of danger. It may be wise to bring a smart, well-behaved dog with you and a walking partner to stay wary of the larger, more dangerous animals. After all, this is supposed to be a fun day out!
Try out this Local Eatery for a Meal or for Picnic Food on the Way
I can honestly say that stopping at Barb’s Bakery and Bistro on Salt Spring Island is a great idea. It’s located on 124 McPhillips Road, about 22 minutes away from Mount Maxwell by car. You can try eating at the bistro end of it first, then procure some picnic food for the hike. What better food for a picnic than handmade, fresh, healthy, high-quality dishes? Great ideas for picnic food are the amazing bakery bites, hearty soups and chowders, power-packed salads, and of course some desserts to savour.
Plan a picnic up on Mount Maxwell and go for a hike to the top. The views are breathtaking, and well worth the long bumpy road.
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