Mount Tzouhalem (pronounced "zoo-hay'-lum"), situated
Bay, is named after Chief Tzouhalem of the Cowichan First Nations
and, for thousands of years, has been traditionally known as Quw'utsun
Smeent and is considered very sacred in local folklore.
All of Mount Tzouhalem and the ridge that protrudes over Cowichan
Bay has a number of recreational uses including hiking, mountain
biking and horse riding. The ridge is made up of a number of overgrown
forestry roads and trails dating back to the mid-1990's when the
slopes were logged off, mainly of Douglas fir.
To get here from Duncan,
follow Trunk Road (Chevron Station) east to where Tzouhalem Road
starts near the turnoff for Maple Bay Road in North
Cowichan. Take Tzouhalem Road towards Cowichan Bay and look
for Providence Farm, then the St. Ann's Catholic Church. You can
find a small parking lot located on the south side of St. Ann's
Catholic Church on Tzouhalem Road and the start of one trail situated
on the south side of the gravel lot.
at Your Own Risk
The at 'your own risk' myriad of trail systems is representatives
of various groups including local First Nations, Parks Canada, private
landholders, the Municipality of North Cowichan and local-end users.
The trails are not maintained and do have various hazards associated
with use including roots, loose gravel, and steep, sharp cliffs,
drop-offs and ridges.
Unfortunately, there are no organized signs on any of the trails
and travellers must observe the odd bit of surveyors' tape hung
off the odd branch of a tree at trail junctions and use common sense.
Also, there are no pit toilets, picnic tables or any other facilities
on the trail network or along the Mount Tzouhalem ridge.
The Providence Trail involves going up a fairly steep hike, climbing
for about an hour to around 427 metres (1,400 feet) to where there
is a viewpoint next to a metal cross on the side of a steep ridge.
From the cross, there is an unrestricted spectacular 180-degree
westerly view of Quamichan Lake, Mt. Prevost, Duncan,
Cowichan Valley, Cobble Hill and Cowichan Bay.
From the cross, the trail continues along the ridge, climbing only
slightly going towards the south to reach the summit which is directly
across from Cowichan
There are a number of approaches up Mount Tzouhalem, including from
Genoa Bay, Maple Bay and Cowichan Bay. A favourite includes coming
up the east side of Mount Tzouhalem where there are some views of
the shoreline along Sansum Narrows with some good bird watching
Tzouhalem Ecological Reserve
Also situated on Mount Tzouhalem is the Mount Tzouhalem Ecological
Reserve where you can find a rare Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) meadow
woodland. Managed by BC Parks since 1984, this 18-hectare (44 acres)
ecosystem is found just situated south of the Kaspa Drive trailhead
and is home to a number of species of different wildflowers, grasses,
reptiles and birds roosting along the rock faces.
Ann's Catholic Church
For more exploring and interesting things near Mount Tzouhalem you
can view the mainly aboriginal parishioner St. Ann's Catholic Church.
The church founded by Father Rondeault in 1903 and erected by the
sisters of St. Ann is a historic landmark along Tzouhalem Road.
St. Ann's Catholic Church still holds church services today and
has a historic graveyard along the grounds.
Another property and facility worth viewing adjacent right to the
church is Providence Farms, originally St. Ann's School. Still owned
by the Catholic Church, Providence Farms operates as a private facility
for innovative programs and procedures for Horticultural Therapy
with other vocational training in agriculture.
Mount Tzouhalem, besides having good walking trails and mountain
biking, also serves as a running course as part of the Frontrunners
GutBuster series. The annual race offers spectacular views on both
a 5 km (3 mile) and 12 km (7.5 miles) course along some amazing
trail systems boasting up to 600 metres (1,970 feet) in elevation
Official Mt. Tzouhalem Web Site
There are some unofficial maps that have been produced on Mount
Tzouhalem and fortunately are constantly being upgraded mostly for
mountain-bike use and runners. The trails do have local names but,
unfortunately, signs are not posted so be aware of that before going
onto the trails, especially in foggy or changing weather. Perhaps
the best maps with names can be found on mountain biker, Heavy-J's
Official Mt. Tzouhalem Web Site.
on Mount Tzouhalem