Seal Bay Nature Park

Park Features

  • Cobble beach
  • Forested trails: multi-use (horses, bikes and hikers) and hiking only
  • Pit toilets
  • Benches
  • Dog bag dispensers

Park Etiquette

Pet leashing is required year round on the Swamp Loop and on all trails on the water side of Bates Road.  During fawning and nesting season, from April 1 to June 30, leashing is required in the entire park. Thank you for doing your part to reduce park visitor impact on wildlife.

Trail Map

Check out the Seal Bay park trail map [PDF - 906 KB]

Location and How to Get Here

  • Lazo North (Electoral Area 'B'). Main parking lot at Bates Road entrance. 
  • Small parking areas at Hardy Road, Mitchell Road and Seabank Road entrances.

View the map [PDF - 372 KB] for directions on how to get there.

Park Master Plan Update

This summer, the CVRD is starting to gather public input, data and information for an update of the 1998 park master plan for Seal Bay Nature Park. For more information, visit the project planning webpage at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/sealbay.

Wildlife

There are two viewing stands on the marsh where you may be fortunate to spot beaver, muskrat and an assortment of ducks and other feathered friends.  Other wildlife viewing opportunities include barred owl, various species of warblers and other song birds, woodpeckers, little-brown bats, red squirrels, marten, black-tailed deer and the occasional black bear.

The Comox Valley Naturalists have published a wildlife viewing guide with a more complete list of species, available on their website.

Natural Features

Bates Road divides the park into two sections.  The water side (east side) has well groomed meandering trails leading through a second growth forest of Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple and red alder, with steep ravines lined with gigantic sword ferns and a seasonal waterfall. Three trails lead down to the waterfront: Seacliffe, Don Apps and Seabank. There is nearly one kilometre of beach frontage from which to spot seals, birds and maybe even a whale. You will find harbour seals loafing on rocks dotting the bay throughout the year.

The inland side (west side) offers leashing optional trails as well as the “Swamp Loop”, a leashing mandatory trail. Enjoy a creekside walk to Melda's Marsh, so named by Ruth Masters in memory of Melda Buchanan. Melda campaigned tirelessly to have the area protected as a park and made many of the wooden trail signs mounted on trees throughout the park.  Note the nearby western white pine.

The primary value of Seal Bay Nature Park is that it is a large contiguous stand of regenerated second growth forest. The park is one and half times the size of Stanley Park in Vancouver, protecting 652 ha (1,610 acres) of biodiversity and treasured wildlife habitat.  Seal Bay forest features rare plant communities such as hardhack (spirea), wetlands, trembling aspen, Pacific crab apple and slough sedge.

The K'ómoxs First Nation call the park Xwee XwhyaLuq, (pronounced Zway Why Luck) meaning “a place of serenity and beauty.” Come and discover its beauty for yourself!

For a summary of the park and trail map, view the Seal Bay park brochure [PDF - 1.4 MB].

History

Seal Bay Nature Park was first logged in approximately 1913 and then again in the early 1920’s.  Springboard marks are still visible on the old growth stumps. Several trails, such as the Mitchell grade, follow rail or logging grades once used to haul logs. There was a small Japanese camp on the beach along with a sawmill where Seabank Road trail reaches the water.

The area on the water (east) side of Bates Road and the marsh area on the inland (west) side of the road were originally part of a larger area offered to W.W.I soldiers as settlement lands. The soldiers opted not to claim the lands leaving the area as Crown land.  In 1971, the Comox-Strathcona Natural History Society started lobbying the regional district and provincial government to have the area designated as a park.  In 1975, approximately 135 ha (335 acres) were leased to CVRD as a park for a 20 year term.  In 1985, the area under lease was transferred to the regional district by the Province through a Crown land grant.  An additional area of approximately 16.2 ha (40 acres) was added through another Crown land grant in 1988.

The remainder of Seal Bay Nature Park, the area surrounding the Swamp Loop on the west side of Bates Road,  remains Crown forest under long term lease to the CVRD as park. 

The provincial government, school district and regional district have all put forward plans in the past to harvest some of the trees from Seal Bay forest but all were tabled due to opposition from local residents. In 1990, Comox Valley residents sent over 3,000 letters to the provincial government in support of a proposal to have the forest added to the existing Seal Bay Park. The 1994 provincial Vancouver Island Land Use Plan identified the 564 ha Seal Bay Crown forest as a ‘goal 2’ protected area to be transferred to the regional district.  This was reiterated in the updated 2000 Vancouver Island Land use Plan.  However, the Province has not been able to deliver on this promise due to a change in policy regarding Crown land grants and ongoing treaty negotiations with first nations.  The CVRD has obtained successive 10 year licences of occupation over the forest to manage it as a park.  In 2012, the CVRD was successful in obtaining a long term lease until October 2040.