Access: See Introduction

Level: Easy

Distance: 8 km

Time: 2½ hr

Elevation Change: Negligible

Topographical Map: 92 G/6

Click to View Map

Season: Year Round

After disembarking from the ferry go straight up Government Road to Gardena Drive on the right. The historic Union Steamship Company Store here, dating from 1924, now houses government offices. The mock Tudor structure was once the centrepiece of a private resort boasting campgrounds, 180 cottages and a dance pavilion capable of accommodating more than 800 revellers. The concept of "camping" has certainly changed since the "good old days."

The entrance to Crippen Regional Park is just beyond the store. Follow Maple Trail, to the left of the park entrance, but first you may wish to explore the Lagoon or the Causeway. The latter provides picture-perfect views of the mountains above Howe Sound on clear day. After a few minutes Maple Trail will merge into the Hatchery Trail from which both Bridal Veil Falls and a complex network of fish ladders can be seen. Look for spawning coho salmon in the creek every October and November.

Each autumn look for coho salmon returning to Killarney Creek at trailside          

Cross Millers Landing Road to continue through forest along the Hatchery Trail or turn right, following the road a couple hundred metres to find the start of the Killarney Creek Trail. Trails are well-marked throughout Crippen Regional Park. The Hatchery Trail is less direct, following the course of Terminal Creek past a huge, hollowed-out cedar snag before intersecting Meadow Trail. A left then leads to tiny Terminal Creek Hatchery itself while a right leads past an equestrian corral, through an open field dominated by thistles to meet up with Killarney Creek Trail beyond.

Take a left onto Killarney Creek Trail and continue through a stand of towering alder. Soon the trail will split but it matters little which branch you take. This explanation will take the counter-clockwise route around Killarney Lake. Both the Hatchery Trail and Killarney Lake Loop Trail are closed to mountain bike and equestrian users due to the fragile nature of the terrain.

Originally dammed to create a catch-basin for drinking water, marshy Killarney Lake now provides significant habitat for a variety of waterfowl, lesser creatures and their predators. Much of the foreshore is blanketed with lily pads. Watch for tiny insect-chomping sundew plants at the edge of the bog as well. About 1½ km into the loop you'll find a small viewpoint overlooking some swampy sections of the shore. Half a kilometre onward is a boardwalk at the head of the lake: halfway point of the 4-km loop and the perfect place for lunch.

Back in the forest, you'll encounter another boardwalk and a viewpoint before reaching the dam and picnic area at the end of the trail. You can return to the ferry the way you came or follow Mount Gardner Road directly downhill [left from the lake] to complete the circuit.

The End


Horsetails

Horsetails

Some would say the first plant: ever! A gigantic earlier relative of the common horsetail thrived in the Carboniferous era and eventually became our present day coal deposits. Containing silica, horsetails make a natural "sandpaper." On the west coast horsetails and salmon slime were used to polish masks, canoes, bone tools and soapstone pipes. In spite of the rough texture of the stalk, the young plant heads can be eaten as asparagus.

Illustration by Manami Kimura