48 Hour Fall: A Guide to Road Trips on Vancouver Island

By Alison Roach

  • Apple Picking in Victoria


    The changing leaves mean that many harvest fruits are ripe for the picking and the southern part of Vancouver Island is bursting with orchards. Beginning in Victoria, head east toward Elk Lake. On the far side of the lake, you'll find [Elk Lake Farm](http://www.islandfarmfresh.com/farm/elk-lake-farm/) and [Heritage Farm](http://www.islandfarmfresh.com/farm/heritage-farm/). Admire the bright foliage as you get in the autumnal mood and take a few (or a bushelful of) Prima apples for the road.

  • Salmon Spawning at Goldstream Provincial Park


    Every autumn, millions of Pacific salmon fight their way upstream to their birthplace to spawn, as the final act of their lives. One of the most spectacular locales to view this natural migration is [Goldstream Provincial Park](http://www.goldstreampark.com/), a large old-growth temperate rain forest just 17 kilometers from downtown Victoria. Chum salmon come to spawn in large numbers, with males developing bright colors and hooked jaws as they enter breeding streams. Enjoy the lush colors of Goldstream's flora while you experience one of the most exciting episodes for its fauna.

  • Fall Colors at Mossy Maple Grove


    Once you leave Victoria, head north to Duncan, before veering inland. Along a salmon-bearing creek, southwest of Lake Cowichan is [Mossy Maple Grove](https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/photos-sub.php?sID=2), a rare stand of gigantic old-growth bigleaf maples trees, covered in mosses and ferns. What makes this grove unique is the nature of its habitants. Unlike most old-growth areas, which are coniferous, the maples that make up the grove are deciduous (meaning they shed their leaves annually). Nicknamed "Fanghorn Forest," after the dense wood featured in _The Lord of the Rings_, Mossy Maple Grove has been described as ["the most photogenic ecosystem in the entire country."](http://www.bcmag.ca/mossy-maple-grove)

  • Goats in Coombs


    Return to the stunning coastline and follow it further north to an island road trip staple: [Coombs Old Country Market](http://www.oldcountrymarket.com). The sod-roofed building houses a bustling marketplace, which offers fresh produce, ice cream and international foods. Stock up on seasonal vegetables as you soak in the colorful foliage around Coombs. Legend has it that the infamous goats on the roof were first borrowed to mow the grass growing out of the sod and give a few laughs to passersby. Over 30 years later, the goats can still be seen roaming around as permanent inhabitants.

  • Storm Watching at Qualicum Beach


    Just because summer is over doesn't mean you can't still enjoy the beach. The final leg of your road trip will lead you to Qualicum Beach, where you can spend the afternoon enjoying the summer hotspot to yourself as it transforms into a cool, grey fall setting. Bring your rain gear (you may need it!) and explore the sands while taking in views of the Georgia Strait and the coastal mountains beyond.