Mt Tzouhalem from Genoa Bay

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If you are hoping to do a hike with great views of are not interested in driving logging roads and would rather instead a drive through idyllic bucolic landscapes, consider hiking Mt Tzouhalem. The hike is an easy one, with a max elevation somewhere around 475 metres it gives amazing views of Cowichan Bay and Genoa Bay.  On a clear day a hiker can see several small towns and some of the gulf islands.

View of Cowichan Bay, Duncan
The month of November has been very kind to the folks of Vancouver Island. The weather has not turned on us, in fact a few days of heavy rain not withstanding, it has been very dry. Though there have been several days as cold as -5 Celsius, the cloud cover has been limited and there has been plenty of sun. The forecast for November 16th was for sun and good visibility. Excellent conditions for this hike.

GPS Topo image
GPS Route with Photographic Annotation

Total Distance: 10.5 km
Starting Elevation: 6m
Max Elevation: 490 m
Total Elevation Gain: 898 m
Time: 5 h 35 m

We met at 8 am at the Southgate Tim Horton’s and traveled south, taking a left at Herd Road, and eventually working our way down Genoa Bay Road. In my opinion Genoa Bay is the only way to hike this route. Though many do the hike from the Old Stone Church, those folks, in my opinion, are destination seekers. Conversely, starting the day from Genoa Bay gives spectacular views and is better for folks who believe in the mantra, the journey is the destination.

Eight hikers in total, including my 17 month old son Hemingway and my friend’s 6 year old daughter, hiked a modified version of the Cowichan Bay Route, we eventually cut back to the Ridge Route. Though the elevation gain to achieve the ridge is only about 350 metres, the ascent is over a short horizontal distance, and mostly all at once.  If one can make the first big hill, the rest of the hike is a piece of cake because at the top of the mound the route rolls through mature second growth forest.

Climbing the hill to Tzouhalem’s monument

Climbing the hill to Tzouhalem’s monument

I’d love to say that I did a great job at leading. I have done this hike several times before. However, I tend to take a wrong turn at Albuquerque . This trip was no different. Tzouhalem has a a vast network of trails, with less than 1 km to the monument, we took a right and we should have went left. To add insult to injury, we literally went in a circle as we backtracked, looking for the correct route. I’m sure we wasted 30-45 minutes. My apologies again to my hiking friends.

Matthew Lettington and 17 month old Hemingway
Father and Daughter

After finding the correct route we approached our destination, the monument on Mt. Zhouhalem. As we moved near,  we could hear many large ravens and eagles cawing and screeching. We speculated there was some carrion below. There were 6-10 bald eagle and as many as a dozen large ravens. They were soaring …. right at our eye level and in some cases we could even look down upon them.

We ate lunch at the monument, a white cross. Normally the monument is standing tall at the edge of the cliff. Today, the cross was leaning against a rock, some distance from the edge. A recent windstorm has blown it over. Volunteers have retrieved it and carried it back up to elevation, leaving it to rest against the rocks.

After lunch we returned along our route, there were no issues returning along the route.  Once descending the hill toward the car, we diverted to pass by the giant boulder. We paused here for a rest and we posed for some photos.

giant boulder
Photo by Mojgan

We returned to he car by 2:45.The hike was a bit longer than posted, due to the circling. Regardless everyone enjoyed the hike.

View full album of 19 photos here: 

Flora, resting at a viewpoint on the hill

Photo by Mojgan
Photography by Mojgan

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