Mount Benson Information

What to Expect When Hiking Mount Benson
An Excerpt from NALT's August 2015 Newsletter

About Hiking Mount Benson

photo by Michael Vann
                                                                                                             photo by Michael Vann 

 Watch a Video of a Hike up Mount Benson.
About the Mountain:
Mount Benson is a small mountain by West Coast standards; its summit is a modest 3,350 ft (approximately 1,000 meters) above sea level. But, for the residents of Nanaimo and the surrounding area, this mountain is important. It is situated just west of the City, and is an important backdrop and recreational destination.
Just as the timber was re-establishing itself, a forest fire razed the mountain in 1951. Long-time residents say that re-growth of the forest has only really happened in the past 20-25 years and some say there are patches that have never re-grown.

In the summer of 2003, new logging began to appear near the summit on the front slope of the mountain, and community response was immediate and urgent. It suddenly became apparent to everyone that the natural green backdrop to the City of Nanaimo and surrounding area was about to disappear for another generation, or longer.
Some of the concerns about new logging included:
  • Loss of recreational uses due to inaccessibility during logging and change in future values after logging
  • Loss of aesthetic values, if the view of the mountain begins to change to a patchwork of bare and brown patches instead of a continuous backdrop of forest
  • Destruction of eco-tourism potential (hiking and biking in summer, x-country skiing and snow-shoeing in winter, and a gateway to back-country trekking)
  • Loss of last pockets of old-growth timber, endangered plant and animal species, and other significant habitats
  • Serious erosion and slow re-growth of the forest on steep north and north east slopes. Yet another threat to the shrinking Vancouver Island wildlife
  • Further negative impacts on the Millstone River watershed, and the fish and water quality values in that river.
In response to public pressure, the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust (NALT) began communications in 2003 with the owners of the top property on the front face, seeking alternatives to logging. 
About the Properties on the Mountain:

There are several different owners of the mountain. On the front slopes (north-east) they include TimberWest, BC Crown Land (leased to Malaspina University College), Island Timberlands (was Weyerhaeuser), and the Department of National Defense. Until recently, the 523 acre property that extends across the top of the front face was owned by a development company called Pennclan-Reeve. For the timber companies, the primary use of their properties is timber harvest. Initially, Pennclan-Reeve stated that their reason for logging their property was to "open up the viewscape" and develop the property as view lots. However, they later abandoned this idea and focused on revenue from logging the timber. About 100 acres of this property was logged in 2003; and at least another 50 acres during 2004. There was no further logging in 2005, and only a small patch of the logged area is visible from downtown Nanaimo.

Kevin White on the Summit
                                                                                                                photo by Kevin White

Mount Benson Park Planning Process:
The public input process to develop a 10 - year plan for the RDN Park on Mount Benson has begun. The first round of consultation with the community has now been completed.   There have been a number of individual contacts made with key stakeholders, and on April 16th a Public Session was held at Beban Park. The session was divided into 2 parts, each lasting about 2 hours: a late afternoon session (4 to 6 pm) and an early evening repeat of the same process (6 to 8 pm). About 100 people attended the sessions, and there was good interaction, discussions and questions raised.
A 2-page survey to gather the community's thoughts and concerns was circulated for the past month with the results being one of the indicators for the direction of the park in its initial ten year plan.  Please go to regions website for the park for more information:
The consultants (HBLanarc) will compile all the public input received thus far, and plan to have a draft plan ready to bring back to the community for further input and revisions in September of 2009. We will keep you posted on dates and details.

Some Future Benefits:
Environmentally responsible development of Mount Benson's amenities for ecotourism could, with minimal effort and investment, offer significant and sustainable economic benefits to the Nanaimo area.
Potential benefits include:
  • With a growing demand worldwide for eco-tourism, Mount Benson has the potential to be become a destination for all levels of recreation.
  • A limited access could allow visitors and residents year-round recreation and incredible views above the 2,000 ft level.
  • More challenging hiking and biking and winter skiing or snow-shoe routes could be promoted from "sea to sky" and back.
  • Some parts of the mountainside could become a sustainable community forestry demonstration site - providing long-term economic returns while still maintaining visual integrity and recreational appeal.
  • Sustainable logging practices would not only preserve the aesthetics and livability of the area with a green backdrop, they would also help to preserve the threatened Millstone River watershed,  including fish populations, and water quality and quantity issues.
For more information on Mount Benson click on the following link:

                                                                                                             photo by Paul Chapman

Thinking about getting involved?

Click here for the Mount Benson - Phase 2 Donation Form

To become a volunteer with one of NALT's projects, events, fundraisers or a campaign -
email our volunteer coordinator Paul Chapman
and he will be happy to help you get involved: 

here to volunteer!
or call Paul at the NALT Resource Centre office @ 250-714-1990 
(Updated April 2009)