This is the first in our 4-part series of Spring walks that include insider details and activities to pair with some of our favourite trails around the region. Check back in every Sunday in April for a new walk and some fun tips to get the family outside enjoying the season together.
We first discovered MacDonald Wood Nature Park by mistake.
Last Spring, we’d driven by the sign at the corner of Balmoral and Croteau in Comox so many times that I just pulled over one day when we were in need of a new scene for our walk.
This thin slice of protected shoreline forest proved a most excellent score in the curious tiny person department. Its Summers are green and full of wildlife. Falls are spectacular with the Cottonwoods and Aspens in all of their colourful glory. But Spring, whoa, this time of year is when MacDonald Wood shines.
Enter the path at the main trail head and, within about 25 meters, white trillium begin to dot the sides of the trail. Trillium are one of the first signs of Spring here, and I always look for them. This spot is one of the few where you are practically guaranteed to see this island native.
This flat, well-groomed trail has all kinds of treats for the curious – from giant mushroom blooms on ancient tree stumps to cool patterns of lichens, tons of sticks and pine cones for collecting and LOTS of opportunities for bird spotting including Robins, Eagles, Woodpeckers and Chickadees.
Keeping on the main path, you’ll pop out at the end of Croteau Road. Make sure to keep going on the path down to the beach! There, you’ll discover a gorgeous wood-slat path over the Great Comox Midden (a 3,000-year-old First Nations archaeological site) to wander along and admire that slice of Comox Harbour before heading over the driftwood and onto the beach.
Big tip: Check the tide charts to turn this short walk into an afternoon adventure.
Make your way under the old dock and hop back up on the path to walk along the shoreline.
Big tip: Just past the dock is the entrance to Mack Laing Nature Park. Keep going on the trail past the entrance to a spot where there’s a grove of trees and a fair whack of driftwood on the shoreline. There you’ll discover a Pan-and-the-lost-boys-like space in the grove for tree-climbing, fort building and free playing. It’s a super fun, secure spot where kiddos can have some fun while parents chat, take a rest or set up for a picnic.
The shoreline part of this walk is a great chance to turn over some rocks for crab discovery (they are everywhere) or check out the amazingly diverse number of smaller snails that inhabit this stretch of beach.
Some days, you even luck out with some truly incredible discoveries like Lewis Moon Snails (We found 14 the other day)
I recommend going as the tide is headed out because, if timed right, you can walk along the shoreline all the way to The Filberg in explorer mode.
This combination of forest and beach also gives you the super cool option of getting your creative groove on by collecting a few items from the natural world to take home for an afternoon crafting project. We chose magic wands.
- Sticks from the forest
- Shells from the beach
- Dried grasses from the shoreline
- Wool or yarn
- coloured raffia
1. When out, look for shells that have an opening that will fit on the end of a stick, like snail shells.
2. Take the stick and the shell. Glue the shell on the end of the stick.
3. Take the grasses and wrap them around the shell to secure it even more onto the stick. Do this as well with the wool. We used three lengths (from arm to arm) of wool per wand.
4. Tie a bit of coloured raffia (you could do this with the grasses too) at the top of the stick for a bit of a streamer effect.
That’s it. A simple magic wand project that’s fun, pretty cool, and all about nature to remind everybody of an excellent day, spent together, outside.
About the Author (Author Profile)Robin Rivers is Our Big Earth’s Publisher and Sr. Partner. Able to survive on coffee alone. Often can be found leaping tall buildings with the help of great friends. Predisposed to odd hats and the color orange. In love with imagination, her kids and that crazy guy who married her.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Year In Review - Top 10 Valley Nature Spots for 2008 | Our Big Earth | January 3, 2009
- Kids Crafts - Recycling Roundup | Our Big Earth | April 20, 2010