The small community of Mesachie Lake is located on the south shore of Cowichan Lake on Southern Vancouver Island. Mesachie Lake was a mill town from 1942 to 1968, and has since been transformed into a tranquil country lifestyle community, surrounded by mountains, waterways, and rural woodlands. Mesachie is the Chinook word meaning bad or evil, with Mesachie Lake meaning Lake of Spirits. The Cowichan First Nation believed that an old man – called the Mesachie Man in legends – lived in the lake and that anyone trespassing on his territory would be drowned in the lake’s waters.
Whether you come for the pristine waters of Mesachie Lake, Cowichan Lake, Nitinat Lake, or the Cowichan River, or whether you visit the ancient forest of the Carmanah Walbran, or hike the West Coast or Juan de Fuca Trails, you will find it easy to satisfy your desire for adventure in this area. Excellent fishing, swimming, kayaking, and boating are all at the community’s doorstep.
The area is the gateway to some of the most spectacular camping and hiking available on Vancouver Island. Other communities such as Lake Cowichan, Honeymoon Bay, Skutz Falls, and Youbou are within easy reach by road. All have access to scenic Cowichan Lake, one of the largest fresh-water lakes on the island. The south arm of the lake is a heat trap, boasting the highest average summer maximum temperatures in Canada – over 24 degrees Celsius!
Location: The community of Mesachie Lake is located in the Cowichan Valley, 5 km west of the village of Lake Cowichan. To get to Mesachie Lake, turn west off the Trans-Canada Highway onto Highway 18 (Cowichan Valley Highway) just north of Duncan and continue to the village of Lake Cowichan, 19 miles (31 km) west of Duncan (20 minutes). Continue on South Shore Road for 5 kilometres to Mesachie Lake.
Visit a working forest and learn about forest management at the Cowichan Lake Forest Research Station on Forestry Road in Mesachie Lake, established in 1929 by the BC Forest Service. Over 200 examples of “international” trees imported from all over the world are studied here, and the experimental station has become renowned for its work in forest genetics and tree physiology.
Bear Lake Park offers a peaceful and picturesque setting under mature trees at diminutive Bear Lake, complete with picnic tables, lawn area, fishing docks, and a boat launch.
Cowichan River Provincial Park is a 750-hectare area stretching almost 20 kilometres, from the village of Lake Cowichan to Glenora, just south of Duncan. This spectacular Provincial Park protects significant stretches of the Cowichan River, known as a first class recreational corridor. The park is internationally recognized for its wild salmon and steelhead trout, and for the historic Cowichan River footpath that winds through dense Douglas-fir and Western Hemlock forest.
Stroll along the Cowichan River Footpath in Cowichan River Provincial Park, a sensational 20-km hiking trail following the scenic Cowichan River from Glenora to Skutz Falls. Originally built for anglers, the Cowichan River Footpath is now a popular spot for hikers and naturalists.
River viewing points at Skutz Falls and Marie Canyon are prime locations to watch spawning salmon in the fall. Marie Canyon day-use overlooks the Cowichan River as it surges through a spectacular sheer rock canyon. Skutz Falls offers magnificent views of river rapids and a man-made fish ladder. Skutz Falls is accessed from Riverbottom Road, or from the Cowichan Valley Highway. The trail leads downstream into the sheer-sided 2-km long Marie Canyon.
Stoltz Pool has a picnic site overlooking the Cowichan River from a grassy area nestled in a grove of old big leaf maple trees. The Burma Star Memorial Cairn, a replica of the Kohima Monument in Myanmar (Burma) is located here. The cairn was erected by the Burma Star Association to commemorate and tell the story of Major Hoey and the Allied Second World War campaign in East Asia.
Gordon Bay Provincial Park: The rewards for visiting Gordon Bay Park in April and May, in advance of the summer crowds, include having your choice of campsites, and witnessing the spectacular display of wildflowers that begin blooming in April.
Golf: March Meadows Golf and Country Club on South Shore Road in Honeymoon Bay offers a challenging semi-private nine-hole course and the original home of Canadian LPGA golfer Dawn Coe-Jones. Par 36, rating 71.4, slope 123. Vancouver Island Golf Vacations.
Hiking: Mesachie Mountain Trail is a 1-hour easy hike one way, providing excellent views from the top. To reach the trailhead, go north on Forest Road and cross bridge. The trail to Mesachie Mountain is to the right.
Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park is home to some of the world’s largest spruce trees. Take a side trip to this old-growth forest, located southwest of Mesachie Lake, and view first hand the pristine wilderness that has made British Columbia so famous. The Carmanah Valley is accessed from various directions via the Caycuse River Bridge, and can be reached by vehicle from Lake Cowichan and Mesachie Lake.
The Honeymoon Bay Wildflower Ecological Reserve, with a small circuit of easy walking trails reveals an abundance of spring wildflowers such as pink fawn lilies, bleeding hearts, violets and white trilliums from April through to the end of June.
The nearby village of Lake Cowichan is the gateway to some of the most spectacular camping, hiking, and fishing available on Vancouver Island.
The Cowichan Valley ranges north across the Malahat Ridge from Victoria through the Cowichan and Chemainus Valleys to Nanaimo, including a cross-island trip to Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park.
The Pacific Marine Circle Tour is an excellent way to explore the historic West Coast of Vancouver Island. The wilderness route traces the coastline from Victoria through Sooke and Port Renfrew, continuing onto the Cowichan Valley and looping back down the Trans-Canada Highway via Duncan to Victoria.