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5 Ways to Soak in Shoulder Season in Campbell River

While fall for many is the time of year for pumpkin spice lattes, spooky movies, and getting cosy by the fire; for others, fall is a welcomed change of pace to soak in their favourite activities. Whether it’s camping, hiking, or sipping in local spirits – the cooler temperatures of fall, and absence of crowds, is a great excuse to change the pace, but still do the activities that you love.

Here’s a few activities to add to your ’to do’ list this fall that may not have been on your radar (with a sprinkle of the classics of course). 

1. Hike Ripple Rock Trail

Hike Ripple Rock Trail

Photo Credit: Bluetree Photography

Less crowds? Check. More parking? Check. Cooler temperatures? Check! Ripple Rock in the fall is not only beautiful and scenic with the changing leaves (perfect for your fall photo-op), but also for the increase in space from other hikers, and the cooler temperatures that make an afternoon hike much more comfortable. 

About Ripple Rock Trail – This popular hiking trail overlooks the site of the famous 1958 Ripple Rock blast, which was the largest non-nuclear explosion in the world at the time. While the detonation was dangerous, the trail is the opposite. At about 4 kms long in each direction, this moderate hiking trail provides scenic viewpoints overlooking Menzies Bay and the Seymour Narrows. The hike in total, depending on your speed, can take up to 2.5-3 hours from start to finish.

Location – The trailhead is off Hwy 19 about 16km north of Campbell River. The parking lot itself does not have a sign, but there are signs before the trailhead. 

Another classic hike for fall scenery is the Canyon View Trail. The Canyon View Trail follows the banks of the Campbell River. In the late summer and fall it is likely that you will see people fly-fishing for salmon and you may even spot some swimming upstream on their way to spawn. If you would like to view Elk Falls and the suspension bridge, you can add the Millennium Trail on to your adventure, which would add an extra 3.5km (return) to your journey. For more information on Elk Falls Provincial Park, click here. 

2. Explore Strathcona Park

Explore Strathcona Park

Photo Credit: Tyler Cave

Is exploring the backcountry of Strathcona Provincial Park on your list of things to do, but you don’t want to fight the summer crowds to do it? Let us introduce you to our friend “fall.” Fall is a great time of year to explore Strathcona Provincial Park at a slower pace. Strathcona Park has been attracting hiking enthusiasts and alpine explorers for many generations for good reason. It’s home to an abundance of natural wonders. From the highest peak on the Island (Golden Hinde) to the tallest waterfall in Canada (Della Falls) to the remarkable wildflowers that grow next to turquoise alpine lakes (Cream Lake). The vast network of trails that criss-cross through Strathcona’s ecological diversity beg to be admired.

Location – Strathcona can be reached by two main access points: Highway 28 to Buttle Lake or Strathcona Parkway to Forbidden Plateau. It is about an hour drive to the beginning of Buttle Lake, the gateway to Strathcona, and an additional half hour to the end of the lake. Buttle Lake is nestled in a valley surrounded by high peaks, providing spectacular views right from the road. There is a wide range of hikes around Buttle Lake, ranging from short waterfall walks to multi-day backcountry expeditions. The Forbidden Plateau area of Strathcona makes the subalpine accessible with ease. It is about a 45-minute drive from Campbell River to the Raven Lodge parking lot, where you will embark on your journey through the meadows.

Is exploring Strathcona Park your passion, and want to learn ways to help preserve it? Check this out here. 

3. Watch the Salmon Spawn

Salmon spawning in Campbell RIver

Photo Credit: Maxwel Hohn

Nestled on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island where smaller islands cluster at the narrowing of Discovery Passage, Campbell River shows off a unique spot where rivers meet ocean, and proves to be a quintessential spot to view the salmon spawn in the fall. Locals and visitors alike, deem the salmon spawn as a favourite fall activity.

Quinsam Hatchery 

The Quinsam Hatchery has been in operation since 1974. Located just off of Highway 28, the Quinsam Hatchery is a great place to observe juvenile salmon all year, or returning salmon from end-of-July to mid-November. Self-guided tours are open to visitors seven days a week from 8:00am to 3:30pm. Significantly boosting returns, the hatchery plays a vital role in restoring natural spawning runs to the Campbell/Quinsam Rivers as well as assisting production of other systems such as the Puntledge and Oyster rivers. Each year, four species of Pacific salmon and two species of sea-run trout return to the Quinsam and Campbell Rivers to spawn. Generally, the salmon spawn in the fall and the trout in the spring. The preferred time to observe salmon is from August to November. Adult salmon can be found throughout the river, but the largest concentration can usually be found just below the counting fence in the Quinsam River.

Visitors can observe returning salmon from the end-of-July to mid-November and juvenile salmon year round. The facility and surrounding river and streams present outstanding prospects to view salmon in their natural habitat and to observe the processes of a successful, effective hatchery. There are many walking trails to enjoy branching off along the river and many are wheelchair accessible. Caution is to be exercised in the fall months as it is not unusual to encounter black bears on the trail that are also very interested in salmon.

Location – 5km from downtown Campbell River: drive west onto Highway 28 (towards Gold River) and you won’t miss the “Fish Hatchery” sign as you turn left onto Quinsam Road.

4. Head to the Pumpkin Patch

Halloween at Holly Hill Farm

Photo Credit: Erin Wallis Photography through Holly Hill Farm

Without a trip to the pumpkin patch – does fall truly exist? This may not be the most strenuous activity but it sure is a lot of fun. If you want to hit the pumpkin patches this fall be sure to check out:

Holly Hill Farm – Pumpkin Patch & Halloween Activities

Holly Hill Farm is an interactive local petting farm located in the heart of Campbell River. During the month of October they turn up the fall festivities with a u-pick pumpkin patch and some of the animals get into the season with Halloween costumes! Have you ever seen a goat dressed up as a pirate? There’s nothing better! Check out their Facebook page for more up to date information. 

Location – 2311 Ida Rd, Campbell River

Coastal Black Pumpkin Fest 

Is there a better way to celebrate fall than launching pumpkins hundreds of metres using a three story tall trebuchet?  If your answer is no, then we have an autumn event for you. Taking place at Coastal Black Estate Winery, the Coastal Black Pumpkin Fest features hay wagons, barnyard animals, a pumpkin photo booth, pumpkin picking, and that giant, have-to-see-it-to-believe-it, pumpkin launcher.  We told you that fall in the Campbell River area wasn’t boring! Starting September 24th. Want more details? Visit their website here.  

Location – 2186 Endall Rd, Black Creek

Shamrock Farm Pumpkin Patch & Halloween Display

Placed on a gorgeous and fruitful plot of land in Comox Valley, there isn’t much Shamrock Farm doesn’t do in the fall.  A full on seven-day-a-week pumpkin fest for all of October is a headline event for this special outdoor playground.  At the farm, you can browse for locally grown garlic, organic apples, heirloom pumpkins, squash, lavender, greenhouse starts and handmade soaps in the on-site shop or pull your own pumpkin right off the vine in the fields.  If picking pumpkins isn’t enough to get you in the Halloween spirit, the famous haunted barn at Shamrock Farm just might do the trick (or treat). Be sure to check out their website for more information, here

Location – 2276 Anderton Rd, Comox

5. Local liquor tastings at Shelter Point Distillery

Shelter Point Distillery

Photo Credit: Bluetree Photography

What’s better than sipping on local spirits while the leaves change, the weather gets cooler, and the smell of pumpkin spice everything is in the air. If you’re a lover of local spirits, we know just where you should go this fall.

Shelter Point Distillery 

After a day of adventuring, warm up in the cozy interior of Shelter Point Distillery and delight your palate with a whisky and vodka tasting. A visit here is both an education and a tasty treat. Listen in as passionate distillers tell you the story of how they became stand out Canadian whisky producers in a remarkably short time. Hint: the secret is local barley and ocean air! They’ll even give you a backstage peek into the meticulous processes if you’re lucky! Purchase a bottle or two for your next special occasion and to remember your fall trip to Campbell River, and keep an eye out for their newly released gin offerings. Enjoying being on Island time? Take a moment to stretch your legs in the inviting Oyster River trails that surround the distillery. For more information, check out their website here

Location –  4650 Regent Rd, Campbell River, BC

So, as the leaves begin to change and the pace of shoulder season sets in, be sure to soak up that shoulder season bliss while it lasts! While you’re enjoying your favourite fall activities in Campbell River, be sure to use #TheRealCampbellRiver for your chance to be featured.