Kyla Karakochuk

Kyla Karakochuk

Best of the City: View from the top

You don’t need to head to Mount Everest to climb a mountain. All you have to do is head off of Jingle Pot Road to Mount Benson.

You don’t need to head to Mount Everest to climb a mountain. All you have to do is head off of Jingle Pot Road to Mount Benson.

It’s close, there is a very picturesque backdrop and you don’t have to break the bank to get there – it’s in our backyard, so to speak.

Ross Collicutt, a Take A Hike Vancouver Island Facebook group member and operator of PureOutside.com, an adventure blog, said he hikes Mount Benson five to six times a year and there are many great things about it.

The view, the proximity to Nanaimo and the variety of trail and landscape are things Collicutt enjoys about Mount Benson. On a difficulty scale, with one being easy and 10 being difficult, he said it’s somewhere in between.

“I’d say it’s probably sort of in the middle – it’s about a five or a six,” said Collicutt. “It’s steep in some places. It’s a good grunt up. It’s not very long, but it can be steep.”

Collicutt said it wasn’t always a popular hiking spot, but times are changing.

“Since [Nanaimo and Area Land Trust] has been putting a lot of work into getting a trail right to the top and the [Regional District of Nanaimo] has made the top an actual park it’s getting a lot busier. The last pictures I saw of a group hiking up there, there were probably about 20 or 30 people in the group hiking it.”

While the weather is warming up – making a Mount Benson hike more agreeable – Collicutt said it is something you can do year-round.

“I prefer the spring for it and the fall. Summer’s getting a little warm to do that kind of hike for some people. It can get really warm and you have to make sure you bring up enough water to get up there, but I like the cooler days to get up there so it’s not so warm,” he said.

Kyla Karakochuk, avid hiker, Take A Hike Facebook group member, who runs the Vancouver Island Living adventure blog, estimates she ascends Mount Benson 25 times a year. She likes it for many of the same reasons as Collicutt.

“It’s a really good workout,” said Karakochuk. “It’s a three-hour hike up and then you get a really good view of Nanaimo … You’ve got a nice view overlooking the city of Nanaimo, the Island. You can see all the lakes from Nanoose Bay to Ladysmith.”

Karakochuk said there is also a good view of the Nanaimo Lakes area as well.

Having hiked Mount Arrowsmith and a number of multi-day hiking trips, such as Cape Scott or the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, Karakochuk lauds Mount Benson for its convenience.

“The great thing about Mount Benson is, it’s right in town,” said Karakochuk. “So you don’t have to go far to get there, so that’s a huge advantage as well and then you’re overlooking your own city, something that everyone here should experience.”