For over a year, we’ve all been dreaming of getting away, and perhaps Island adventures will once again be possible in the summer of 2021. If so, put the village of Gold River, on the edge of Nootka Sound, on your list. Here, you can breathe freely, walk amid the giants of old growth, and experience some of the best outdoor recreation in the region.
Gold River is located a couple of hours from the Comox Valley. To get there, head towards Campbell River, then turn onto Highway 28, which will take you through 89 km of beautiful lakes, rivers, and mountain scenes. You’re sure to want to snap a lot of pics along the way, but sooner or later you’ll turn left at the big boot and arrive in Gold River. Stop at the tourist info centre first for a friendly welcome, maps, and details about the local attractions.
In the village, you’ll find restaurants, cafes, a post office, liquor and grocery essentials, a pottery gallery and studio, a regional library, retail shopping, and accommodations.
It’s all about the outdoors in Gold River. There are many short, reasonably challenging hikes accessible from the village or the nearby Scout-Antler Recreation Area. There’s a pretty nine-hole golf course, and at nearby Star Lake and Muchalat Lake recreation areas, you can peacefully fish, paddle, picnic, or swim. There’s camping at Muchalat Lake, too.
If you’re feeling fit and adventurous, the trailheads for Crest Mountain and Elk River/Landslide Lake trailheads—two steep, challenging all-day hikes—are just a quick jaunt back along Highway 28. Or drive along Head Bay Road to check out Upana Caves, which even non-cavers will enjoy exploring using a map from Gold River’s info centre.
Nootka Sound, just beyond the village, is definitely worth a look. You can rent kayaks at Get West Adventures to explore the inlet. It boasts a myriad of fishing lodges and abundant wildlife, access to the Nootka Trail and Hesquiat Peninsula Provincial Park (both suitable for experienced, hardy outdoorspeople), and the gorgeous boardwalk leading to Hot Springs Cove. To access these more far-flung locales, you’ll need your own boat, or you can book passage with a local water taxi service or Air Nootka.
A delightful way to explore Nootka Sound is to take a day trip on board the MV Uchuck 111 with Get West Adventures. You’ll see spectacular rugged beaches and visit small communities along the outer coastline of Vancouver Island as the boat drops off passengers and supplies. Note that sailings will be limited in 2021 due to COVID.
Gold River is situated in the traditional territory of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, only a few minutes from the Mowachaht/Muchalaht community of Tsaxana, off BC-19 N. Further along this gravel road is the Muchalat Lake recreation site, with the communities of Woss and Zeballos beyond. This is a remote drive along a logging road, so a reliable vehicle with good tires is recommended.
Or you can take the Tree to Sea Drive to Tahsis by going west from Gold River on Head Bay Road. This is another remote, but stunning, road that grants access to more fishing lodges and great waterfront camping at Moutcha Bay, Cougar Creek, and the Conuma River.
One of the main reasons to visit Gold River is to take in all the natural beauty the town has to offer. Summer is a wonderful time to visit, when the temperatures usually range from 25° to 30°C and the rivers and lakes are refreshing. Accommodation choices include two hotels, the luxurious fishing-oriented Lodge at Gold River, the golf course campground (for golfers only), and the municipal campground along the beautiful Gold River. (Please note that hookups are not available in either campground at this time.)
Whether you’re a hiker, boater, paddler, golfer, cave explorer, camper, or swimmer (or any combination thereof)—or you just like to kick back with a pint and a beautiful view—Gold River delivers the goods. Grab a picnic lunch and enjoy exploring everything this off-the-beaten-track treasure has to offer.
Check out the Gold River Chamber of Commerce for more information. Please do not travel against the recommendations of the Provincial Health Officer.