Picture of low_tide For the purposes of this page, the Arrowsmith region is going to encompass all the provincial parks we visited in the Oceanside area. We started with Rathtrevor beach. Really, this is a beach. It was a particularly low tide when we visited and there are strong tides here to start with so this enormous expanse of ocean floor lies between the actual beach and the water's edge.
Picture of sand_dollars Of course, all this exposed ocean floor means a lot of tide pools which means a lot of sea creatures. The most common were crabs of assorted species and sand dollars like these. The white sand dollars are more recognizable because of the pattern, but alas, they are dead. The purple disks in this picture are live sand dollars.
Picture of whelks There are also a huge number of whelks in the sea grass. When we finally reached the water's edge, there were also partially buried clams. They made themselves more obvious by squirting water at us if we walked too close.
Picture of englishmanriver_above Our next park was Englishman River Falls which is possibly the most impressive. This is the top of the falls the park is named after. It really is just a river disappearing into a crack in the rocks.
Picture of englishmanriverfalls Here's the view from the other side of the bridge. We could not see to the bottom of the falls although the river emerges downstream far below this bridge. It's a short loop hike from the parking lot to the top of the falls and then around to a lower bridge.
Picture of salmonberry Along the way we saw salmonberries like these. There is a campground in the park as well although it's off on a side road so we did not see it.
Picture of swimming_hole The lower bridge has a very nice swimming hole below it. Well.. if you're Canadian or otherwise immune to cold. Mt. Arrowsmith has snow throughout the summer and feeds these rivers so the water is crystal clear but frigid.
Picture of cathedral_grove On the highway to Port Alberni and the west coast of the island is MacMillan Provincial Park. This mostly surrounds a lake in the interior mountains. The highlight is the Cathedral Grove area of primeval forest. There are two hiking loops here, just north and just south of the highway.
Picture of cedar_roots The grove north of the road is focused on giant Cedar trees - this being the root system of one. These are short easy hikes but the forest is very impressive.
Picture of looking_up On the south side of the road are more Douglas Firs. The largest tree in the park (a fir) is located here.
Picture of qualicum_river Little Qualicum Falls is the last park we visited in this area. There is a pleasant well-shaded campground here. Both upper and lower Qualicum falls can be visited on a loop hike of a couple miles (maybe 3 km). This is the river canyon between the two falls.
Picture of qualicum_falls The upper falls is more impressive and there are some complex viewing areas you can reach by scrambling over rocks (all of the viewing areas are well fenced). The falls itself is not easy to see from a single location as there are several drops and a 90-degree turn.
Picture of qualicum_lower Here is the bridge over the lower falls area. There are a few exciting bits of trail in this park where it follows the edge of the gorge. There are quite a few more unofficial trails in this park than there are on the official park map. Some of them are cut-offs and some are spurs to... we aren't really sure.

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