Shelly Creek Park and Rail Loop: 4.25 km
Coffee Loop: 4.02 km
Total Distance Walked: 8.27 km
Total Walking Time: 2 hrs
Shelly Creek is a tributary to the Englishman River. It begins on Little Mountain and flows into the river near Parksville’s Orange Bridge. Shelly Creek Park is the last healthy riparian section of this 5.6 km creek, which is Parksville’s last fish-bearing stream. It is home to a small population of Coastal Cutthroat Trout as well as Coho Trout and fry. Currently, trout migration is severely limited due to man-made obstructions. During the low waters of summer, the fish remaining in Shelly Creek Park live their lives in this confined space.
Numerous studies, and volunteer hours, have been put into supporting and revitalizing this creek. Owls and raccoons, amongst other wildlife, also call this area home.
Shelly Creek Park contains less than .7 km of trails. It provides a quiet, forest escape for local residents. Moreover, it includes much interpretative signage to help park visitors learn what they can do to improve this habitat, especially in terms of water balance and preventing stream erosion. You can read more about Shelly Creek here, here and here.
Parksville’s E & N Rail Tracks lie directly behind Shelly Creek Park and provide one of the park’s access points. The recent installation of a water supply transmission main along this railway corridor has expanded the surface beside the tracks making the area perfect for walking or biking. This unsanctioned rail-trail has long been the subject of controversy regarding the future direction of this defunct train line. In the meantime, it is another of Parksville’s hidden gems. Shhhh, don’t tell!
Our Experience: To complete this creek-rail loop, we ducked out near the old train station (now a pottery studio) and ventured onto flat, wide and peaceful Wildgreen Way. This quiet street is lined with small acreages, making it the perfect route to continue a tranquil stroll. A few forest friends came out to greet us.
As the above hike took us just over 4 km, we decided to add a coffee-shop loop. In the early months of COVID, we walked this second loop daily. Since our hiking challenge began, we have only walked it one other time. It greeted us like a beloved, long-lost friend. Despite our exciting hiking adventures this past month, we had greatly missed this simple walk. There truly is no place like home.