Cowichan River Provincial Park, on southern Vancouver Island, provides a variety of recreational pursuits as well as protecting a significant stretch of the Cowichan River, renowned for its wild salmon and steelhead fishery. Designated as a Provincial Heritage River, it is also one of only three BC rivers that have Canadian Heritage River Status. CHRS is Canada’s national river conservation program that ensures that Canada’s leading rivers are sustainably managed.
Tourists and locals flock each year to the Park to go camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, tubing and canoeing in and along the river corridor. Scuba diving has become more popular in the clear river as it offers great opportunities for fish viewing. Sightseeing from the restored 66 Mile and Holt Creek Trestles offer spectacular river views and the opportunity to imagine back to a time when log laden traincars would thunder along these tracks high above the Cowichan River. At the 66 Mile Trestle, the Trans Canada Trail can be accessed.
The Cowichan River Footpath connects all the river’s parks and makes for an excellent scenic hike along the river’s shoreline. Originally constructed by fishermen, it is approx. 20 km from end to end and takes about 6 ½ hours to hike. CAUTION – Drop offs can be steep; please stick to designated trails and respect all signs and railings.
The Stoltz Pool Campground opens with full service on March 30th to September 30th. There are 39 drive-in sites and 4 walk-in sites and 27 of the sites are reservable starting January 12th. Reservable dates are from May 12th to Sept. 9th. The campground is situated in a second growth Douglas Fir stand and all sites are well spaced with easy access to the river. From the campground visitors can enjoy tubing, swimming, picnicking and fishing. A portion of the campground is open year round with a winter rate from October 1st to April 30th. There are two group sites; Stoltz Pool and Horseshoe Bend which can be reserved 12 months in advance of your arrival date within the Operating Season and up to two days prior to your arrival.
Stoltz Pool Group Site – Maximum 50 people, incuding children. There is a shelter with two wood stoves inside and picnic tables inside and out. Water is available at a water pump at the site and beside the group site, there is a communal fire ring surrounded by benches. There is no field area at this site but instead, there are 16 tent pads with trails leading to each one. Parking is located nearby at a large gravel parking lot between the river and the group site. CAUTION – The river runs alongside the group site area and can run high and fast during the Spring and Fall. Be cautious of children in this area.
Horseshoe Bend Group Site – Maximum 100 people, including children. There is a shelter with a sink and two wood stoves inside and picnic tables inside and out. Water is available at a water pump at the group site. This site is very private and beautifully situated. There are 11 tent pads and parking is available above the site in a gravel parking lot. Campers and RVs can camp in the parking lot. Vehicles are only permitted to drop off their equipment at the shelter and return immediately to the parking lot. CAUTION – Watch small children as the river can be dangerous certain times of the year; especially in Fall, Winter or Spring.
There are 4 day use areas at Cowichan River Park. Stoltz Pool day use is located adjacent to the campground and includes a boat launch, riverside trail, a picnicking area with tables, parking, pit toilets and a grassy field nestled amongst the Maple trees. 66 Mile Trestle day use is located near the 66 Mile Trestle and offers picnic tables, an information shelter, parking and pit toilets. Marie Canyon day use is located East of 66 Mile Trestle and offers breathtaking cliffside views of the river canyon and rapids. There are also spots for fishing and picnics. Skutz Falls day use is located at the Western trailhead of the Cowichan River Footpath and offers pleasant walks, fishing, picnicking, great swimming and tube runs. This site also provides access to the Skutz Falls section of the river, where visitors can view spawning salmon in the Fall, river rapids and a man-made fish ladder.
There are three main access points to Cowichan River Provincial Park:
Skutz Falls Road (Western Access), located off of Hwy. 18, Skutz Falls Road provides access to Skutz Falls and Marie Canyon day use areas, Horseshoe Bend Group Site, Marie Canyon day use area and the trailheads of Skutz Falls Circuit and the Cowichan River Trail. Follow signs from Skutz Falls Road via Cowichan Lake Road and Mayo Road to Riverbottom Road.
Hwy 18 Connector (Middle Access), located off of Hwy. 18, it provides access to the Stoltz Pool Campground, Stoltz Pool Group Site and day use/picnic areas. Follow signs to Riverbottom Road.
Robertson Road (South East Access), located on Robertson Road in the Glenora area south of Duncan. To access this point, proceed West on Glenora Road, turn right on to Vaux Road and continue down Vaux Road, as it leads into Robertson Road. This provides access to the Glenora Trailhead of the Cowichan River Trail.