Qualicum River, Vancouver Island
The Qualicum River is a beautiful small river that runs from Horne Lake down to its mouth at Qualicum Beach on the east coast of Vancouver Island. There is an amazing hatchery on this river. There is a 10 km portion of river above the hatchery that you can fish with access by hiking from the big Qualicum hatchery parking area. Fishing is usually heavy in areas near the hatchery, but lightens up in the upstream stretches. Fishing the river downstream from the hatchery is restricted.
In addition to the steelhead fishery, the Qualicum River provides some good fly fishing for coho salmon, with good fall runs of chinook, coho and chum salmon, cutthroat trout are also present.
You can park at the hatchery and hike up the river on a good fairly level trail that takes you almost to Horn Lake. This trail starts at the Big Qualicum Hatchery and follows the 10 km-long, gravel hatchery service road the length of the river. Amble along under the riverside tree canopy, explore the Fisheries and Oceans Canada hatchery complex and catch the action when the salmon spawn in the fall. You can see plenty of wildlife here along with a variety of birds.
I have always enjoyed walking along this river in the fall, seeing black bears, black tail deer, roosevelt elk along with plenty of smaller animals like raccoons, pine martins and squirrels, the river is beautiful in the fall, when the trees turn color. In this color you will see so many birds going about their business of being birds. The old rail trestles that cross the river high above your head are quite the sight as well. All in all, this is such a great place to take a walk.