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……and take lots of photos along the way!

Vancouver Island: Robert’s Roost Trail

Robert’s Roost is one of my favorite local hiking trails.  When I want a quick hike, a little fitness training or just a wander in the woods with a nice view at the end this is my go to trail.

To access the trail park at the Morrell Nature Sanctuary.

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Head straight down the main trail past the information booth.

This section of trail can be stunning in the fall and is a great place to take photos of fall colors.

The main trail through the sanctuary ends at a green gate.  Walk past the gate and out into the open area under the power lines.  Continue directly across the power lines and look for a trail leading into the forest.  Its marked by 2 vertical metal bars.

Within a 100m or so you will come to a fork in the trail.  Go right.

Within a few short meters you will come to another junction.  On the trail to the right there should be a sign on a short stump with ‘K2′ on it [Edit – this sign may now be gone].  Go left (straight where Chase is).

The trail winds its way gently uphill through the forest with plenty of exposed roots to catch the unwary hiker.

Along the way there is plenty of evidence of the working history of this forest.  In some of the large stumps you will see horizontal slats cut in a few feet up.  These are springboard holes cut by loggers before the age of chain saws.  The logger would chop the springboard hole with an axe and shove the end of a long board into it.  They would then stand on the board to chop or saw the tree down.  Using a springboard put them up high enough to avoid having to saw though the thick part of the tree at the base.

In general the trail is fairly easy walking.  Some areas in this lower section can get muddy but there is usually a way through without getting your boots too dirty.

This is typical West Coast rain forest where Mother Nature is busy reclaiming her own.

As you hike further you are treated to views of the tranquil forest.  Slow down, enjoy.

The trail follows a small stream up the hill.

Two kilometers into the hike you will intersect a major trail.  Go left.

About 100m past this you will see 2 trails heading off to the right (as well as you the trail you are on heading straight).  This is known locally as the ‘Crow’s Foot’.  You want to take the 2nd trail to the right.  Look for some blue paint on a tree like this:

This next section of the trail has some nice wetlands off to the right.  They can be quite beautiful if you stop and wander off the trail a bit to explore.

About 300m past the crows feet the trail pops out on a logging road.

Turn right, walk about 20m and look to the left for the trail heading uphill (where Chase is standing in the photo below).

From the logging road to the top of the Roost is the steepest part of the trail.  Shortly after you leave the road there is a short section of rock to scramble up.

There is usually a rope in place to help you.

The trail continues through the forest for another 400m.

Keep your eyes open for Owls in this section.

Just below the top there is another steep section with a rope assist.

When you first get to the top you’ll find lovely views out over Nanaimo and the Salish Sea.

As nice as the views are on sunny days this is also a great location to shoot some moody weather shots.

If you wander over to the other side there are some nice views back up towards Mt. Benson.

The top of the Roost is home to an interesting collection of Manzanita bushes (a cousin to the Arbutus).  Their red bark and gnarly shapes make them interesting subjects for photography.

This is a great hike in any weather.  If you get a chance to try this trail it makes a wonderful few hours.

Trail Notes:

Driving time from Downtown Nanaimo to the trail head: about 10 minutes

Round trip distance from the trail head to the top and back: 6.2km

Hiking time: 2-3 hours depending on how fast you hike and how often you stop.

Starting elevation: 67m

Max elevation: 423m

Trail Difficulty: Easy (with a couple of short Moderate sections)

GPS Track Download: http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=2734141

Suggestions: bring a camera (the views are worth it!), hiking poles are nice but not required.  A printed copy of this guide may help you sort out which turns to make.  There are a number of intersecting trails which may throw you off.

Photo Map (click on any flag to see the photo I took at that location):