The China Bowls are a really neat formation of rocks that is quite beautiful on its own but is absolutely mesmerizing when the creek flows through them.
I have been here twice, once in the summer when they were pretty dried up and once in the winter when the water was rushing through them creating some beautiful rapids and falls. I really didn’t take many pictures the first time as we actually didn’t go right down to the really cool bowls, we just walked along the river.
I also let you know before that there was some discussion on my last visit here about whether or not we would consider this a hike. While we ended up deciding it was just a walk I still am going to share it as a hike because it just doesn’t seem to fit in with the outdoor adventure category for me. Basically this is considered a hike on my blog because I don’t have another category to put it in but know that this is short and easy and definitely more of a walk.
In Cumberland there is a very prevalent mountain biking community which leads to lots of trails, most of which you shouldn’t hike as it could be dangerous to both you and the biker as many spots are quite narrow or visibility is limited. That being said, in the area of the mountain biking trails there are also logging roads. Being that the mountain bike trails weave in and out of the logging roads you’ll find yourself in a well-populated area as you make your way. This is an active logging road so also be aware that you could be seeing logging trucks along this road and to be respectful of workers and their vehicles and move aside for them when needed.
You’re going to park where all the mountain bikers do, on the corner of Sutton and Comox Lake Road. There is also a parking lot on Sutton Road that you can park at. You’ll see a yellow gate and this is where you start your walk. Once you pass the yellow gate you’re going to take the road on your right which is unfortunately uphill. I would say half of this walk is uphill but you’re only gaining around 100m in elevation through the entirety of the way.
You’re basically going to truck along this road the whole way. You’ll come to two Y’s in the road, the first one you’ll see a small building with graffiti on it and you’ll go to the left. The second Y in the road there’s a yellow sign in the middle and you’ll stay to the right. This is shown in a photo previously in this post.
Eventually you’ll come upon a bridge. This means you’re there! The first time I went we just walked down the river from the bridge and assumed that all the small divots in the rocks were considered the bowls, but in actuality there is a spot further down the river to see those. That being said I would recommend going down the river if you can in that season because there are some pretty neat formations. Below are a couple pictures of some spots along the river that we enjoyed.
Off to the right side of the bridge you’ll see a metal post that’s been painted light blue which marks the trail to get to the bottom of the falls. That being said I actually didn’t notice this trail marker until we were on our way back as it is pretty obvious. Walk along the trail for literally like 45 seconds. You’ll see a tree with a rope tied around it that is entirely useless but does the trick showing you were to go. The climb is a bit steep and in the wetter seasons it can be slippery so use caution. Without the rope there’s plenty of handholds and footholds to use but I’m sure the rope would’ve been nice for peace of mind.
At the bottom you’ll have a nice view of the bowls as well as a lower pool that would be nice for a quick dip on a hot day. When the water is flowing well you’ll see a handful of small falls and rapids rushing through the bowls. I would definitely suggest bringing a camera here as they’re quite beautiful.
I would recommend doing the China Bowls if you’re ever in the area. It’s a super short journey with just under 4km of walking. The rock formations are really quite unique and beautiful and the forest on the way up is quite lovely too.