Nanaimo might have a metropolitan feel to it, but one doesn’t have to go far to experience the Canadian wilderness.
Situated just outside of city limits, but within an approximate eight-minute drive of downtown, sits the Nanaimo River.
It’s a place that Nanaimo-based realtor Kim Rhodes knows well and visits on a regular basis.
“There are lots of great swimming holes and lots of great trails,” she said.
Rhodes, who lives just minutes away from Nanaimo River Road, has been visiting the river with her four children for years.
“My kids have been coming to the river since they were born,” Rhodes said.
Nanaimo River provides plenty of places to swim, tube, and ride the rapids. It’s also a great place to take the kids for a nice, relaxing swim on a warm summer day.
“You definitely want to make sure that your kids are strong swimmers and you put those boundaries out on where your kids can and can’t go and you can trust that they will have fun,” she said.
And there are seemingly endless trails that slither up the banks of the Nanaimo River. Among them is a fairly popular one known as the Darkside, which can be accessed with an SUV or pickup truck at the end of Riverbend Road.
The Darkside is a short trail that carves its way through trees and requires individuals to manoeuvre down a series of ladders.
Once at the bottom, individuals are only a few metres away from enjoying the refreshingly crisp and clean water of the Nanaimo River.
Other popular spots along the river include access points by the Cedar Road Bridge and the Trans-Canada Highway bridge and the Nanaimo River Regional Park.
“I used to go to the Cedar Bridge, but it has gotten too populated,” Rhodes said. “For me, with the kids, I like to go off the beaten path a little bit.”
Nanaimo River Regional Park is maintained by the Regional District of Nanaimo and is home to one of the last natural forests along the lower portion of the river. The park also includes multiple conservation areas, a well-maintained multi-use trail, parking and kiosks.
There are also countless other access points along Nanaimo River Road, which Rhodes says allows people to have their own favourite private spot on the river.
“The river branches into so many different directions that it makes it so that you can get your own private swimming spot,” she said.
For Rhodes, one of the best parts about the Nanaimo River is it allows her to spend quality time with her children and be surrounded by natural beauty.