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Tucked in behind the Civic Centre complex at Qualicum Beach is one of the loveliest off-leash dog parks you could hope to find.
A lengthy network of wide, sun-dappled forest trails meanders through several unfenced acres of quiet, pristine woodland, offering cool shade on hot days and a partial respite from rain and whatever else the elements throw at you at other times.
The trails are accessed from the paved Civic Centre parking lot. A large noticeboard with a peaked roof acts as a bulletin board for everything "doggy", as well as bits and pieces of information about other stuff. There is a dispenser that is kept stocked with poop pick-up bags, which visitors are expected to use - and dispose of - themselves. There has been some consternation in the village in recent months over the fact that while some dog owners bag their pets' excrement, they leave the filled bags sitting at the side of the trails, where paid village employees have been picking it up. In an effort to keep expenses under control the town council is considering dispensing with the "poop patrols", so please ensure that you dispose of your dog's droppings in the garbage container located at the entrance to the trail system.
The trails are very well maintained, with wood chips underfoot. There are numerous markers located throughout the system so that you can figure out where you and your dog are, where you want to go, and how to get back to the entrance to the system. If you take the time to explore the entire trail network you can stretch your walk out to 45 to 60 minutes. Be aware, though, that at one point the trail bends off to the left and a big-running dog could end up on the Laburnum Road bypass, which can be fairly busy with cars moving at considerable speed. Be sure to study the trail system and keep tabs on where you are to prevent any mishaps with traffic.
There is also the possibility that you may encounter wildlife - bear and deer are not unheard-of, although we have never seen either. The trails are quite heavily used and I suspect that the proliferation of off-leash dogs is enough to encourage wildlife to hang out elsewhere the large majority of the time. It's also not a great idea to be at this dog park in windy weather - much of the forest is old-growth and fragile, and it's not unusual to see downed trees on a walk.
Dog walkers also need to note that there are both off- and on-leash areas in this park - as you draw nearer to the adjoining playing fields you are expected to leash your dog, or endure the embarrassment of having him frolic in the midst of a soccer or baseball game.
“ If you take the time to explore the entire trail network, you can stretch your walk to last 45 to 60 minutes. ” Shirley Culpin
There are codes of conduct posted at the entrance to the trail system, for both dog owners and walkers and joggers; make sure to read them prior to entering the trail system so you know what is expected of both you and other trail users.
Also at the trail's entrance is a fenced area for small dogs or those who may be unreliable off-leash but still enjoy a good leg-stretch. Both the fenced area and the trails have benches for owners to rest on. There is no water available at this park so be sure to pack a water pail and water from home for your canine companion, who will no doubt be in need of liquid refreshment after investigating all the wonders of this most delightful place.
To get to the entrance to the off-leash area, enter the parking lot at the Civic Centre and veer off to the left. The Civic Centre is located at 747 Jones Street, Qualicum Beach.
N 49 20.703 W 124 27.059
This is a guest article by Shirley Culpin. Check out her Vancouver Island Beyond Victoria Blog to learn about more unheralded nooks and crannies on Vancouver Island.
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