Nestled near Parksville along the Englishman River you can experience a sandstone river bed filled with potholes, outcrop cliffs and excellent swimming holes. Plus a fantastic walk along the river edge through the forest and high cliffs.
Top Bridge is an outdoor paradise. Known by locals, it can be a busy place for swimming, forested walks, mountain bike rides, or just to be near the water.
We’ll dive into what makes Top Bridge a unique location to visit away from the ocean when in Parksville and how you can make the most of your trip there.
The pedestrian-cyclist suspension bridge is easy to access from either of the two parking lots located on either side of the Englishman River.
It’s a short walk to reach the suspension bridge, and you will quickly realize that not only does it serve as a functional crossing, but it also acts as a viewpoint as many visitors find themselves pausing mid-crossing, captivated by the panoramic views of the unique rock formations along the Englishman River below.
Whether you’re a photographer looking for that perfect shot or simply someone who appreciates nature, the bridge offers an experience that’s hard to replicate.
One of the highlights of Top Bridge is its natural swimming hole, courtesy of the Englishman River. This spot is a local favourite, especially during the hot summer months. The water is crystal clear but can be quite chilly, making it a refreshing escape on a warm day.
It’s common to see people sitting along the sandstone rock shoreline, watching others jump from the protruding rock formation into the deep pool below. Both sides of the river allow for access to swimming during the warm summer months.
A river trail through the forest between the river and high cliffs makes for a wonderful experience. Start from the Chattell Rd side of the bridge and head north, following the trail along the river bank. You will find large boulders, cliff faces and access points to the river.
There are a few stairs and the trail does get narrow but it’s not difficult and is well worth the walk.
Top Bridge Community Park links three parks with multi-use trails including Englishman River Regional Park, Top Bridge Community Park and an access trail all the way to Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.
While you’re exploring, keep your eyes peeled for something extraordinary—petroglyphs. Three petroglyphs were discovered by a local fisherman in 1940 on the rocks near the river. The exact locations are unknown, but they do exist in the area. It’s like a little treasure hunt as you explore the natural surroundings.
There are six different kinds of fish in the Englishman River, making it a year-round fishing destination with great spots from the Estuary and almost to the Englishman River Falls.
There are two parking lots (one on each side of the river)
Allsbrock Rd Parking Lot: Google Maps
From Alberni Highway (Hwy 4) off of 19A, take the first left after going under the overpass. Then take another left onto Allsbrook Road and follow it to its end. Drive into the gated road (open during the day) it will lead you to a parking lot. From there, just follow the main trail for a short walk to the suspension bridge.
Chattell Rd Parking Lot: Google Maps
Kaye Rd off Hwy 19 first right onto Chattell Rd after going under the overpass. Drive past the Gun rage the road will lead you directly to the parking lot, you can see the bridge from there.
There aren’t a lot of amenities other than an outhouse in each parking lot, a small bike rack and info signage.
Summer (May 1 to October 30)
Winter (October 31 to April 30)
If you do not remove your vehicle by closing time, it will be locked in until 7:00 AM the following day.
Top Bridge in Parksville is a microcosm of Vancouver Island’s diverse natural splendour. It’s not just a bridge but a special location with many outdoor activities.
Whether you’re diving into the refreshing waters of the Englishman River, wandering through lush old-growth forests, casting a line in hopes of a catch, or marvelling at the unique rock formations along the riverbank, Top Bridge offers an experience that caters to every type of nature enthusiast.
So, why wait? Add Top Bridge in Parksville to your Vancouver Island Bucket List and set off for an adventure at Top Bridge. It’s a place where each visit can be a unique exploration, and the memories you create will last a lifetime. Top Bridge isn’t just a destination; it’s an experience that embodies the spirit of Vancouver Island.
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