Englishman River Falls, located in its namesake provincial park, is one of the locations in the “Amazing Places” Geotour on Vancouver Island. (Photo courtesy of Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region)

Englishman River Falls, located in its namesake provincial park, is one of the locations in the “Amazing Places” Geotour on Vancouver Island. (Photo courtesy of Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region)

For Treasure Hunters, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region is a True Find

UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves are model regions for sustainable development

This article was produced as part of a collaboration between Vacay.ca and the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region.

You may not realize it but as you’re making your way around Vancouver Island there’s a good chance you’re in precious territory.

The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR) covers 118,582 hectares on the east-central coast between Qualicum Bay and Nanoose Bay, and from the highest peak on Mt. Arrowsmith (1,817 metres, or 5,961 feet) to 300 metres (984 feet) into the Salish Sea. The MABR is roughly six times the size of Salt Spring Island, the largest of the Southern Gulf Islands, and is one of 18 biosphere reserves in Canada as well as one of only two in British Columbia (Clayoquot Sound near Tofino is the other).

A UNESCO designation, biosphere reserves attain their status because they are model regions for sustainable development. They aim to find “a balance between the needs of humans and nature,” according to the MABR’s mandate. The Amazing Places project is just one of the many ways in which this is achieved.

The project connects 10 of the region’s most beloved natural places through interpretive signage and fun outdoor activities. Whether you’re a resident, frequent visitor, or first-time traveller to the region, the Amazing Places are a fun and interactive way to enjoy the outdoors.

A visitor expresses admiration for one of Cathedral Grove’s glorious residents. The attraction is part of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region. (Vacay.ca photo)

Cathedral Grove is a must-stop destination for visitors. Marking the entrance to MacMillan Provincial Park, Cathedral Grove is filled with towering cedar, spruce and Douglas fir trees, some five times as old as Canada. A hike among these giants takes as little as 10 minutes and is restorative and calming, soothing you with each fragrant breath of fauna and earth.

Cathedral Grove is on the western edge of the MABR. On the way, travellers will want to stop into the biosphere region’s other natural highlights, including three more premier provincial parks: Little Qualicum Falls, Cameron Lake and Englishman River Falls. All have easy hiking trails, picnic areas and lots of opportunities to photograph and enjoy their stunning natural water features. You might even discover why more than 1,200 people have recently logged into a mobile app featuring the Amazing Places.

Not only will you find stunning views at MacMillan Provincial Park all year round, you can even come across geocaches that are part of the Amazing Places project. (Photo by Kaitlyn Hwo)

The project has partnered with Geocaching.com to offer the Amazing Places Geotour. These interactive activities connect users of digital technology with the environments they explore. The Amazing Places Geotour includes not-so-buried treasure in eight locations as well as an informative field guide to help find them. To participate, treasure hunters download the Geocaching app for free and follow the instructions in the guidebook to locations in the Amazing Places, solve for geoclues, and find the geocaches. Upon completion, participants can redeem for a prize.

Travellers venturing to eastern Vancouver Island have the chance to find geocaches and even mistletoes this winter. The Amazing Places Geotour includes 10 locations with finds that can lead to a souvenir geocoin. (Photo courtesy of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region)

In 2020, the Amazing Places geocaching challenges expand to include month-long mini-adventures that take place from January through March. During each month, midweek visitors who participate in these Geocaching.com Adventure Labs will have the chance to enter into a draw for prizes if they complete the tour, which includes using the app to answer questions and earn a “proof of find.”

To celebrate the holiday season, the Amazing Places Geotour is offering a Mistletoe Trail, scheduled to run from now until Dec. 27. It features five mistletoe balls dangling in picturesque locations to add festive enchantment to the great outdoors.

The boardwalk in Parksville leads to the Beach Club Resort on eastern Vancouver Island. The town is one of the attractions that comprise the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region. (Photo courtesy of Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region)

MABR explorers also have an urban centre to enjoy. The seaside communities of Parksville and Qualicum Beach are notable components of the biosphere region. Two of British Columbia’s most family-friendly destinations, Parksville and Qualicum Beach are recognized for their languid shorelines along the Strait of Georgia, peaceful beach culture and easygoing residents. They also include three more Amazing Places — Rathtrevor Beach, Heritage Forest, and Parksville Community Park. A fourth, Notch Hill Park, lies at the southern boundary of the Biosphere Region in Nanoose Bay, just a short drive south. Travellers to these areas will be treated to incredible scenery of the ocean and coastal mountains, as well as some intriguing sea life. Noisy steller sea lions can be heard barking on rocks off-shore and kayakers have the chance to observe tiny bioluminescent creatures swimming in the water during evening paddles.

From underwater spectacles to majestic forests and a few manmade surprises, the 10 Amazing Places have plenty of riches to entice you to explore and learn about the natural wonders of Vancouver Island.

The historic Milner Gardens & Woodland has hosted notable celebrities over the years and is now part of Vancouver Island University. Stop in to see these beautiful grounds and enjoy tea with the view. (Photo courtesy of Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region)

More About the ‘Amazing Places’ Project

Get Started: Visit the Amazing Places website to learn more about the project and its initiatives. Although the field guide is not essential for your quest, having one will be helpful. It can be downloaded on the website for free, or you can purchase a hard copy for $10 at either the Parksville Chamber of Commerce or the Tigh-Nah-Mara Resort Gift Shop. Anyone who completes the tour can redeem for a customized Amazing Places geocoin.

Mistletoe Trail: Check out the mistletoe balls in these Amazing Places: Notch Hill, Heritage Forest, Qualicum Beach, Parksville Community Park, and Milner Gardens & Woodland. Tag your social-media photos with #amazingplacesmabr, #mypqb, and #explorebc for a chance to have your mistletoe images shared. The trail runs until Dec. 27, 2019.

More About the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region

Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism can help assist with your travel plans. Visit their website for tips on where to stay, places to dine, and other activities to enjoy during your stay.

Tourismtravel

Just Posted

Tofino’s library is currently located in the basement of the Tofino Legion building but talks are underway to build a brand new facility. (Andrew Bailey photo)
The District of Tofino has put new restrictions in place around alcohol at public events. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino puts new restrictions on alcohol at public events

Town’s council adopts Municipal Alcohol Policy.

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED: Vancouver Island paddle boarder’s orca encounter brings joy and outrage

Woman’s ‘best day’ criticized for disturbing the whales

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Tofino expects to elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Nomination period begins for Tofino byelection

Tofino is set to replace former mayor Josie Osborne, who is now the Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

RCMP officers provide policing for 63 B.C. municipalities under a provincial formula based on population. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. communities warned of upcoming RCMP unionization costs

Starting salaries for city police officers are 30% higher

(Pxhere)
B.C. nurse suspended after using Tensor bandage to trap long-term care patient in room

Susan Malloch voluntarily agreed to a three-day suspension of her certificate of registration

Abbotsford’s Skully White (left), who donated his kidney in December, has started a campaign to find other recipients and donors. The first candidate is retired police officer Gavin Quon. White owns and operates a hotdog stand, Lullys Food Experience, out of the Abbotsford Canadian Tire parking lot. (Facebook photo)
After donating his kidney, Abbotsford hotdog king starts donor campaign

Skully White donated his kidney to customer Tim Hiscock in December

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

(File)
Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

(File Photo)
Interior Health says COVID positivity rates in Fernie area actually 10-12%

IH say the rates are not as high as previously claimed by the region’s top doctor

Most Read