Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Hiking along the Comox Bluffs

   by Keith and Heather Nicol
     On Monday June 11, we joined Norm Reynolds for a hike into the Comox Bluffs area near Courtenay, B.C. Norm has been into this area many times but his last visit was several years ago so he was keen to re-check this place out. The Comox Bluffs are along the north side of Comox Lake and we have paddled our sea kayaks along this shore so we had seen this area from the water’s edge.  We knew that it was a south facing area with open moss covered rocks and lots of plants that like dry, rocky conditions. Trees like arbutus are common along this area where as they are pretty rare in the rain forest environment of the Comox Valley. We parked at the edge of the road at 49 38.544 N 125 05.882 W after crossing the bridge where the Puntledge River drains out of Comox Lake. 
The Bluffs offer fine vistas of Comox Lake and have open rocky areas featuring arbutus trees
  We immediately found a trail right in front of the car so Norm said “lets take this one” and we were off. It was soon apparent that there are a maze of trails in this area which are used by both hikers and mountain bikers and it is a challenge knowing which fork to take. Norm’s philosophy was “if it keeps climbing up we will take it” and after about 1.5 km we had reached our first bluff which showed views of Comox Lake. We continued on along a trail that crossed other rocky outcrops when we came across an access road just below us. This route – Boston Main- led down to the main road which on this day had active logging trucks running on it. 

Keith looking down toward Comox Lake
 From there we walked up the road to access the Tomato Creek trail which is on the lake side of the road. The coordinates for the start of this trail are 49 38.294 N 125 07.668 W. This trail has numerous spectacular views of the lake and had the clouds not built up we could have seen the Comox Glacier. We also entered an ecological reserve along this trail and we came across a sign showing some of the unusual plants associated with this scenic area. The Tomato Creek trail also has numerous forks but we figured most went back to the parking area and after 2 hours we had covered about 7.5 km which included time for lots of pictures and side trips to lookouts.  The Comox Bluffs are well worth checking out  but it helps to go with someone who has been in there before so you don’t get twisted around on all the trails. If you head out on your own a GPS with a tracking function wouldn’t go astray.  We will certainly be back to explore this area again. 
Norm checking out a sign showing some of the unusual plants in this area 

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