Where the road ends and the wilderness begins!
If you’re looking to experience more of what local life is like on the remote, wild west coast of the island – consider spending a day in the idyllic small town of Gold River. Set right in the mountains and along the shores of the Gold and Heber Rivers, the immaculately kept village of Gold River and the nearby Village of Tsaxana – Mowachat/Muchulat First Nation is home to 1300 proud residents. The tiny self-contained community was Canada’s first all-electric town and is a hub for the more remote fly-in communities and lodges on this rugged section of the west coast.
Gold Riverites say the village is the heart of the island – where the road ends and the wilderness begins! The town is the gateway to Nootka Sound, one of the most beautiful, storied, and culturally significant spots in the province. As you round the bend through the lush rainforest and leave the Strathcona Provincial Park gates, nestled between tall cedars, the village of Gold River appears. The village is about the size of your average urban neighbourhood, with the added bonus of many wonderful nature hikes and beaches within walking distance from the town centre.
If you’d like to explore the local culture of the remote and rugged west coast- Gold River is the place to do it. Please keep in mind that as a remote destination it may not offer the same amenities and conveniences you’d find in larger centres, however, this little village is known for its small-town friendliness and is a favourite destination for adventurous locals and visitors alike. We’ve rounded up our top five favourite ways to spend time there.
5 ways to enjoy the village of Gold River:
- Grab a bite to eat or a pint at the Ridge Roadhouse, affectionately known to locals as “The Ridge”. This place has an outrageously stunning view- enjoy a relaxing pint on the patio, chat with the locals, and remember that the Ridge is a restaurant so feel free to bring the kids too!
- Peppercorn Park. This little known park is incredibly beautiful and a great low key nature walk and a great option for river swimming. The entrance to Peppercorn Park is of a quiet neighbourhood lane- drive down the forested hill to the trailhead of this well-kept recreation site. Follow the winding trail through the trees and along the shores of the Gold River and you will soon come to a beautiful beach- stay here or keep following the 1km trail which winds along the river and through the rainforest and to many secret beaches. A great walk for the family or for a chill afternoon in nature after grabbing a coffee or bite to eat in town! For more information on Gold River area community hiking trails- check out this link http://www.goldriver.ca/community-trails/
- Clayworks Cafe– get your food and culture fix in one stop at this gorgeous west coast style gallery and cafe. Stop in for a tasty coffee or a meal on the patio surrounded by the beautiful artwork of artistic husband and wife team and life long locals Anita and Neil Lawrence. The gallery shows off the couples beautiful ceramics as well as those of other local artists. https://clayworkscafe.com/about/
- Take a cruise on Nootka Air. For a more high flying adventure- book a cruise on Nootka Air. Book a day trip to hot springs cove, a scenic tour, or ride along on the mail flight! For a real local experience- stop by The Ridge Restaurant on your way home, and enjoy a drink on their patio with stunning views of the sweeping valley below. Or if coffee or lunch is in order, Clayworks Cafe offers a great variety of fair trade organic espresso drinks and delicious baked goods and meals on offer- with locally made ceramics on display.
- Star Lake – a great place to spend an afternoon, especially if you love to swim or fish! This lovely lake has a recreation site complete with picnic tables and floating dock – spend an afternoon at the beach and stroll around the lake before heading back to Gold River for ice cream at Uptown Cappuccino!
Fun Bonus item #6
Stop in for a budget-friendly pizza on your way home from camping or hiking! Are you hiking one of the trails near Gold River? Maybe Crest Mountain? Or perhaps you’re climbing for the day at Crest Creek Crag? Driving through on your way in from a trip to Nootka Sound? A classic move of hungry hikers, climbers and budget-conscious adventurers of all stripes is to stop in at the gas station for a made to order pizza in the middle of the wilderness! You can even order whole pizzas to go and bring them back to feed your family at the lodge if you’re staying in a cottage and don’t feel like making dinner! You are on vacation, after all.
And this is not your average gas station pizza people- think made to order hot cheesy goodness, they even have gluten and dairy-free options- and what a treat after a day in the mountains or a week on expedition eating camping food!
Whatever you choose, Gold River is an amazing village and a great place to experience the untamed west coast. Enjoy your time there!