The Children’s Forest lands, at the heartland of Cortes Island, are ecologically significant and contain the provincially designated sensitive ecosystems: riparian, wetland, herbaceous, woodland and old growth. These forests are home to many rare plant communities and species that are listed on both the provincial and federal species at-risk lists. The biologically diverse James Creek watershed provides extensive wetland and riparian habitat that supports cutthroat trout and spawning salmon. This heartland represents vital wildlife corridors and protects the beauty and wildness of the northern parts of Cortes Island.
Access: Off Carrington Bay Road in Whaletown.
Estimated Walking Time: A variety of walks available. ~1.5 hr – 4 hours.
Local’s Tip: Maps are posted at most junctions, and trails are well-marked and easy to follow.
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Explore Cortes Island Hiking Trails
Easily accessible from Whaletown Road, the Whaletown Commons offers several short loop hikes through dense, verdant forest populated by several beautiful old growth cedars along Whaletown Creek. It’s the perfect place for an easy walk, especially with children.
A broad swath of land across the northwest of Cortes Island, the Children’s Forest stretches from Whaletown to Carrington Bay. It’s lined with logging roads and hiking trails — quiet and perfect for a half-day walk (or even longer).
Grandmother Grove sits at the southern end of Carrington Bay, where the sand disappears into the mouth of a stream surrounded by tall spruce and dense ferns. One of the most beautiful and accessible of Cortes Island’s day hikes.
Kw’as Park, stretching between Hague Lake and Gunflint Lake, has more than 170 acres of hiking trails through old growth cedar, spruce groves, and bluffs with pine and manzanita. Wildlife is often spotted in the park. With so many trails, Kw’as Park is the perfect forest to explore.
The Siskin Lane Forest is a 13 acre park that was donated to the Comox-Strathcona Regional District, to be managed in partnership with the Cortes community. A conservation covenant held by The Land Conservancy of BC prohibits any timber harvesting or development to protect the park’s ecological values in perpetuity. A network of well-kept trails runs through the park, a perfect spot to walk and explore.
This undeveloped marine wilderness park encompasses lakes, estuaries, a salt water lagoon and the old-growth forest Coast-Salish First nations call “Ha’thayim”. Wilderness camping is permitted and the area is popular with cruising boats seeking remote tranquility in this beautiful area. Opportunities for wildlife viewing, camping, hiking and exploration exist in this rugged park, which features reversing tidal rapids, steep-sided fjords and tidal flats within its boundaries.