Rathtrevor Park in Parksville is one of the best camping picnic areas on Vancouver Island. Giant old-growth firs, an incredible sandy beach with campsites located in the mature Douglas fir forest. There are many campsites in this forest along with trails throughout the park. All campsites are within a 5-min walk of the beach. There is plenty of parking and it’s free.
There are plenty of great trails to walk about on, great play parks for the kiddies, and day-use picnic areas for those who wish to spend the day here.
At low tide, the ocean goes out for almost a kilometer and this gives visitors a chance to walk on endless sandy beaches. I walked these beaches many times, and they are almost endless.
Bird watching is popular in March and April when the herring spawn is occurring and Rathtrevor park is very famous for its return of the migrating Brant Geese. The black brant goose is a small, stocky, dark sea goose about the size of a mallard duck, with a blackhead and a short black neck. There is an irregular-shaped white patch around the neck that meets in the front, it has a blackish-brown belly and breast, and a white rear end. The wings are dark, long and pointed, and contrast with its white marked flanks. The legs and feet are black, and it has a black bill.
The towns of Parksville and Qualicum Beach host a Brant Festival every April. The geese stay for a month or more, feeding and resting. Then, flock by flock, they leave on for the next leg of their long journey north.
Rathtrevor Park was named after the William Raft family. Mr. Raft, a gold prospector from Ireland arrived in the area in 1886, William built a farm on the land that is now the park. He first built a log cabin for his wife Elizabeth and their young daughter, then over the next number of years, more structures and children were added to the farm, when Mr. Raft passed on in 1903, he had built a fine farm and had 5 children.
Elizabeth took over running the farm and did very well at it, eventually, she turned the site into a family-owned campground where folks from the city of Nanaimo would come to get away, its reputation grew with people coming from all over the world, and Elizabeth and her family lived quite well. It was called Rathtrevor Campground, I can still remember coming here before it was turned into a provincial park in 1967. It is now the Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.