I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
Two Provincial Parks Near Cedar and Nanaimo in British Columbia on Vancouver Island
Hemer Provincial Park and Roberts Memorial Provincial Park are two parks that are in the greater Nanaimo area on Vancouver Island. These parks are each actually closer to a town called Cedar than Nanaimo on the island. However, many tourists might not differentiate between Cedar and Nanaimo itself. If you are looking at the region on Google Maps, then it's to the east of the Nanaimo Airport (YCD).
Neither of these two parks will blow visitors away. However, I think they are complementary. Firstly, they are each small enough that you could visit them both in one outing. That's especially the case since they are not too far from one another. Lastly, each of these parks has what the other one doesn't, in my opinion.
Hemer Provincial Park Near Cedar on Vancouver Island
The town of Cedar and Hemer Provincial Park are both in the same area as the Duke Point Ferry Terminal. This is one point where you can port on Vancouver Island if you depart the mainland from Tsawassen Ferry Terminal. The sign for Hemer is on the route through the main section of town. It will take a very short time to get to Hemer from Cedar using Hemer Road.
The parking can be tight at Hemer. It's not that popular but the parking lot isn't big enough for peak hours. In the following video, I show a lakeside point for Hemer and comment on the trails. I'm not overly impressed with the views in Hemer, which include swamp views, and have found that the trails themselves are the main highlight of this park.
Comparing the Two
What I mainly like about Hemer are the trails themselves. I find that they are wide, clear, and well maintained. However, the park doesn't have that great of a viewpoint at any point. There are some impressive spots when it comes to appreciating the greenery of the forest. But the lake isn't beautiful and there's not a scenic elevated point.
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Roberts Memorial Provincial Park, a park that I have visited dozens of times, does have an impressive viewpoint. You get to a rocky beach area where people are often crab-fishing. This is a very nice spot to take photographs and it only takes about 10-12 minutes to get to from the parking lot, which is in an area known as Yellowpoint.
Furthermore, I have been out there and spotted seals in the water. Starfish of the purple shade are also in abundance and, on one occasion, I spotted an owl in a tree.
The trail to the viewpoint isn't great at all. I've found it swampy at times, slippery on rockfaces that you have to use, and littered with political graffiti. Between Hemer and Roberts Memorial, Hemer is better for someone that wants a recreational walk while Roberts Memorial is better for someone that's motivated by the prospects of getting to a scenic viewpoint.
Other Attractions in the Area
If you aren't satisfied with either of these parks, then consider heading out to the Cable Bay Trail. It won't be that long of a drive and that trail and the viewpoint at the end might be more what you are looking for.
There isn't great swimming in this small area of Vancouver Island. I have seen people swimming at the end of the Roberts Memorial trail but it never looks inviting to me. Additionally, Holden Lake in Hemer never looked great from the angles I viewed it from. If swimming is what you want, then I recommend heading over to Westwood Lake in Nanaimo or Departure Bay for saltwater swimming.
A trip to Cedar and Yellowpoint can include the double destination of Hemer and Roberts Memorial. You will need both to get the best of both worlds: Hemer has the nicer trails while Roberts Memorial has the nicer viewpoints.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Shane Lambert