Dr. J.H. (Jack) Fisher protected the lower slopes of Mount Erskine by donating this property to be used as a nature reserve and park. Rare wildflowers lie at the heart of this 22 hectare property. Dense forests of Douglas-fir, arbutus, cedar and big-leaf maples blanket the slopes, and rare stands of manzanita, mosses and lichens can be seen on rocky outcrops. The maturing forest offers prime habitat for a variety of ravens, raptors and woodpeckers.
Lower Mount Erskine Nature Reserve connects to the Mount Erskine Provincial Park through the popular Jack Fisher Trail. As the largest recreation area close to Ganges and Vesuvius, the protected areas are popular with island residents and visitors. Fairy doors set along the trail offer exciting memories for visitors of all ages. Spectacular views reward hikers throughout the climb.
Like much of Salt Spring Island, the land that would one day become Lower Mount Erskine Nature Reserve was logged sometime during the mid-1900s. Adjacent to Crown land, the property was used by hikers for some time before it was protected.
Jack Fisher gifted Lower Mount Erskine Nature Reserve to the Province of British Columbia in 1976. His wish was to see the forested lands protected as a park, with the intention that when the Islands Trust Conservancy was up and running, the property would be transferred to them. In 1996, the title to the reserve was transferred and has been protected ever since.
The Jack Fisher Trail, starting at the foot of the Lower Mount Erskine Nature Reserve, offers an invigorating hiking experience to the summit of Mount Erskine. The popular trail takes visitors through arbutus woodlands and hairy manzanita groves and past the magical fairy doors on its way to Mount Erskine Provincial Park. The hike offers spectacular views over Stuart Channel, down into Maple Bay and up the channel to Penelakut Island.
Mount Erskine sits at 410 meters above sea level making the Jack Fisher Trail steep at times. Please use extra care when hiking through the reserve; rocks and gravel underfoot may give way, especially when descending. Please help protect the sensitive habitat this reserve offers wildlife by leaving motorized vehicles and mountain bikes at home. Camping and fires are not permitted on the reserve or in the neighbouring provincial park.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada and Habitat Acquisition Trust hold a conservation covenant on Lower Mount Erskine Nature Reserve, and the Salt Spring Trail and Nature Club acts as the on-island management group on behalf of the Islands Trust Conservancy.
The Islands Trust Conservancy's primary management priority for this protected area is to minimize trampling of sensitive rocky outcrops, and minimize erosion along the Jack Fisher Trail, protecting endangered species that live in the woodlands from being washed downhill. We hope to work with the recreational off-roading community to raise awareness about the boundaries of the nature reserve and the importance of the protected area. We'll also be monitoring invasive species such as Scotch broom moving into the reserve in the hopes of catching infestations early. The management plan for the Lower Mount Erskine Nature Reserve can be viewed here.