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Lake Cowichan

(4.4/5 based on 200+ reviews for 7 attractions)
Things to do: adventure, parks, trails
Lake Cowichan,, is a town located on the east end of Cowichan Lake and, by highway, is 27km west of Duncan, British Columbia. Lake Cowichan is a growing community. The town of Lake Cowichan was incorporated in 1944. The Cowichan River flows through the middle of the town. Lake Cowichan is well-known throughout Vancouver Island for its outdoor recreation, which includes swimming, kayaking, boating, and camping in and around Cowichan Lake, British Columbia's second-most pristine lake, tubing down the Cowichan River, one of Canada's only Heritage Rivers, also known for its world-class trout and salmon fishing, and for serving as the main gateway to the Pacific Coast of southern Vancouver Island, providing easy access to seaside communities such as Bamfield and Port Renfrew, known for their beautiful beaches with turquoise waters, as well as Nitinat Lake, which is home to some of the highest-rated windsurfing in the world, and Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, home to the world's largest Sitka Spruce trees. Lake Cowichan is only three hours from Vancouver, two hours on the world-renowned BC Ferries ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, and a one-hour drive from Nanaimo to Lake Cowichan. Lake Cowichan is also close to Canada's best known hippie destinations; the surfing capital of Canada, Tofino, home of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, and Salt Spring Island, the art and gay capital of Canada; both of these communities are known to be the homes of very open-minded people. Lake Cowichan is surrounded on all sides by the Pacific Northwest Temperate rainforest, which is the most rare ecosystem on Earth, containing the largest, tallest, and oldest trees in the world outside of California. This ecosystem also has the warmest climate in Canada. For this reason, Lake Cowichan is often visited by hikers who enjoy trekking through the rainforest any time of the year up the high mountains which surround both the lake and the community, offering spectacular views of the ocean and Mount Baker, a volcano located in Washington. Lake Cowichan is located within a fifteen-minute drive of the Garry Oak ecosystem, which is the only region in Canada with a subtropical Mediterranean climate. This climate experiences the warmth of the Pacific Coast, but without the immense rainfall that most of Vancouver Island endures, as the Olympic Mountains and the mountains of Vancouver Island, known as the Insular Mountains, block most of the rain from falling in this area, creating a rain shadow effect. This Mediterranean ecosystem, which has temperatures similar to coastal California, exists on the eastern side of Vancouver Island from Campbell River south to Victoria, the Gulf Islands, and the Sunshine Coast. Lake Cowichan is home to the western end of the Trans-Canada Trail, which is by far the longest network of trails on the planet. Lake Cowichan is full of flourishing, unique businesses, as well as a notable art scene, giving the town a laid-back atmosphere, which attracts visitors from all over the world, although, fortunately, it never seems to feel too crowded, even during peak season. Youbou, a small community located fifteen minutes northwest of Lake Cowichan, is home to North America's only remaining hand-set bowling alley. The Cowichan Lake Region is also home to some of the most reasonably-priced real estate in British Columbia, which is a major factor in bringing families into the community, whose children can attend Lake Cowichan School, which has an alternative approach to learning, being among the first schools on Vancouver Island to adopt a self-paced curriculum.
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