Hiking, Vancouver Island

Day 17: Extension Ridge (The Abyss), Nanaimo

Trail: Extension Ridge, Part of The Great Trail (TransCanada)
Distance Hiked: 11.76 km
Walking Time: 3 hours
Trail Rating: Moderate

Imports - 1 of 1 The Fissure

Extension Ridge Trail first caught my attention due to its fissure. Throw in a fairy circle, sweeping view of the Salish Sea and a lookout dedicated to the soulful love of a lost animal companion and I was completely hooked. This hike is likely the prettiest that Richard and I have done in this series to date. With leaves carpeting our path, it looked like a warm, clear autumn day.

Imports - 1 of 1 (2) The Fairy Circle

Extension Ridge is approximately 9 km. It links to several other trails, including Creeper Loop and even The Great Trail. In the 1930s, this area was a walking and horseback path for people to commute between Nanaimo and the small mining village of Extension. Stories about the 50cm wide fissure are endless. Some say that it was caused by a mining explosion, others by an earthquake. Either story is plausible. No one seems to know for sure.

Today - 1 of 1 Stunning Sweeping Views

This forested hike has several short climbs and descents, and has rocks and heavy roots along the way. The area is known for cougar and bear sightings (of which we saw none). The fissure is less than 2 km from the trailhead, so it is easy to walk just a short section, and not miss out on the main attraction.

If you do hike the full loop, be sure to have a rest at Astraca’s Look Out. I found it to be very moving.

Imports - 1 of 1 (1) Astraea’s Lookout

“It is not just that animals make the world more scenic or picturesque. The lives of animals are woven into our very being — closer than our own breathing, and every soul will suffer when they are gone.”


42 thoughts on “Day 17: Extension Ridge (The Abyss), Nanaimo”

  1. Wow, such beautiful views, Donna. I also feel oddly connected to your hike as I cycle and walk part of the Great Trail in Ontario, thousands of miles away from BC. We’re fortunate to live in Canada.


    1. Hi, Natalie – Great minds think alike! I thought of you, and friends in Toronto, when I was walking on the Great Trail (4.5 km is shared with Extension Ridge). I fantasized about continuing on to see how far across Canada I could get! 😀


      1. Completing the Great Trail has been on my mind. I don’t know how yet (cycle, motorcycle, walk?) and there is also winter season to think about. I welcome your suggestion or advice.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A hike to my own heart, this one has it all: a decent length, varied footing, beautiful views, fascinating finds, and an animal lover… I can see why this has become one of your favorites, Donna! Congrats on almost being halfway on your personal Camino! 🙂


    1. Hi, Liesbet – Throughout this hike, Richard kept muttering “wow”, “pretty”, “stunning”, “beautiful”. And, yes, he was talking about the scenery, not his wife. 😀 Being born and raised in BC, it takes a lot to impress Richard with scenery. This hike certainly did all of that and more!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a gorgeous looking area Donna! I would love to do this one with the fissure, the fairy circle and the possibility of cougar/bear sightings – what’s not to love?? Fabulous photos and description once again. You could write an information booklet with all your hikes. Thanks for taking us along with you.


  4. I love that there was a fairy circle and lots of forest and then some water views to top it off Donna – sounds like a lovely hike to start the week with.


  5. Hi Donna – what an amazing fissure … fascinating to see – and how interesting to contemplate its origins. Will you one day be able to get up to see the petroglyphs? As you say – it looks a beautiful hike … especially Astraca’s Lookout … lovely thank you – Hilary


    1. Thanks, Kathy – I have never seen a fissure like this before either. And about the Fairy Circle….I had read, ahead of time, that it is good luck to walk around the circle three times. Which I did. I had neglected to read that it was bad luck, very bad luck in fact, to walk directly into a Fairy Circle. Good thing that I did not do that. Phew!


    1. I’m so glad that you’ve said this, Janis. I can’t wait to re-explore these hikes with you. That means that you will need to stay out here for at least 30 days…unless you want to double-up on some of the hikes, which is also doable! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Joanne – I think that you would like this hike…atleast once your foot is healed. It really did have it all! BTW – I just referred Natalie to your blog, Following A Bold Plan, as she is interested in hiking The Great Trail.


      1. Thanks 🙂
        I’m sure she will discover – as I have – that vast portions of the Great Trail are very boring, and worse, not well kept … certainly in Ontario. That’s why I ended up modifying my goal to portions of the trail in each province and territory, especially after Helen withdrew and I was faced with this goal on my own.


  6. I am very curious to see the abyss. I didn’t realize there was a longer hike one could do that included the abyss. I’ll have to pick your brain sometime about where the trailhead is, and the route.



  7. Hi, Jude – It was hard for Richard and I to choose a favourite hike from all of the ones that we have done in this series. If we had to choose just one, we each would choose Extension Ridge. The fissure is quite close to the start of the trail, but it is super easy to continue your hike on for as long as you would like to go. Alltrails gives a great example here: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/canada/british-columbia/extension-ridge-trail-loop. Feel free to ask me any questions that you have about this, or another other hike that I have done. I’m happy to help!


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