Hiking, Vancouver Island

Day 29: Shelly Creek Park and E & N Rail Loop, Parksville

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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#30hikesin30days

30 thoughts on “Day 29: Shelly Creek Park and E & N Rail Loop, Parksville”

  1. Hi Donna, I really appreciated this beautiful walk. We enjoy eating fresh trout, although, like you say, limited sometimes to man-made obstructions. Parksville is definitely a beautiful place to call home. Shhhhh.😁💕

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  2. You have done such a great job with this month-long hiking challenge. We have a fairly gentle hike up to “Aztec Caves” that always feels like an old friend. I like knowing or at least having some idea what to expect on a trail. PC likes to just hop off the path and blaze our own trail which never starts well but we always seem to manage to find our way back to the parking lot where we left the car.

    We never seen ferns or moss. Or trees – ha – for that matter!! It is fun to compare the area where you walked to ours. I remember reading a story to my students about moss and having virtually none of them know what moss was. So, PC and I went up to the New Mexico mountains and gathered moss to share with the kids.

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    1. Hi, Leslie – It’s interesting to compare different hiking environments. I truly can’t imagine not having moss. The Alltrails App (free) is awesome for helping to ensure that you don’t get lost on your hike. Just press ‘record’ wherever you are, and Alltrails will map your way so you can easily find where you started from!

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  3. Hi Donna – those early railway routes are so useful to Islanders today – great trails they make … while the coast to coast one across Canada is quite extraordinary: I’m not suggesting you attempt it! It’s only 9,320 miles long!! It’s great you’re going to be meeting up with friends soon to do some of these again … take care and nearly there – Hilary

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  4. I hope that the trout creek gets thoroughly revitalised – wonder why they’re called cutthroat trout? Lovely post Donna thank you … ah the old railroad track which always brings up fleeting memories of travel by train.

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    1. Cutthroat Trout received their name from a red slash that occurs below both sides of the lower jaw. Westslope Cutthroat Trout have small irregular-shaped spots along their back and fins. Their scientific name is Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisis. In British Columbia, this species is listed as being of ‘special concern.’ In nearby Alberta, this species population is listed as threatened. Now this is probably more than you were asking for! 😀

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    1. HI, Ally – This particular hikes in one of my favourites. I really did think it was an unofficial, off-the radar hike, that ‘officials’ did not realize that locals were regularly using as a recreational trail. Yesterday, I noticed a wooden Parks and Recreations sign, invited all to visit the”Railway Gardens”. Although it was a beautiful and inviting sign, I prefered when this trail was more of a secret! 😀

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  5. Donna, as you know, I have walked this trail. However, I didn’t know that Shelley Creek is Parksville’s last fish bearing stream. That is very sad. The Englishman River was once a great fishing river, made famous by Roderick Haig-Brown. Now, very few salmon return to spawn each season.

    Jude

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