Century Sam Lake
The hike to Century Sam Lake is an 8.7 km out-and-back route that has you climbing uphill through the forest alongside Comox Creek before arriving at the turquoise waters of the lake and its mountainous surroundings. From here, you will have the opportunity to explore a series of ice caves and take in the amazing views of the lake with Black Cat Mountain and Mount Arthur Evans in the backdrop. Make sure to time your hike well enough to avoid getting locked in at 6 pm.
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Route Description for Century Sam Lake
The Century Sam Lake hike is a bit of a hidden gem in Strathcona Provincial Park, partly due to the accessibility of the trail. The road leading up to the trailhead is a bit rugged and requires a 4x4 high clearance vehicle; however, those in a regular vehicle can still access the trail but will need to park further down the trail. Additionally, this road is privately owned by a logging company, and as a result, the trail is only open for weekend access. The gates are closed at 6 pm, meaning you will need to plan the return leg of your trip properly to avoid getting locked in.
All of the logistics aside, once you can make it to the trailhead, you will be in for a spectacular day outdoors. The route is well-marked and climbs through beautiful tracts of forest as you follow closely alongside Comox Creek before splitting off on a course towards the lake. The approach to Century Sam Lake is stunning—you become enveloped by the surrounding peaks the closer you get to the turquoise water. Exploring the area around the lake, you will find some unique ice caves that survive the summer using the shade from the mountains towering overhead. This hike is an awesome experience that you should not pass up if you are thinking of hiking in Strathcona.
Setting out on the trail, follow it south to cross over Comox Creek and head into the trees. Arriving at a fork in the trail, take the path to the right. Here, the route will turn toward the southwest as you follow parallel alongside the creek and through the beautiful forest landscape. This route only has a moderate elevation gain of 510 m, making for a pleasant climb along a nice variation of dirt, root, and rock-covered terrain.
Continue following the trail as you cross over several streams. At certain points, you will need to use log bridges to make your way across the flowing water below. Keep a southwest direction as you climb steadily uphill, eventually breaking out of the tree cover and into the open expanse of the woodland valley.
The approach to Century Sam Lake is a beautiful sight as the rugged mountain peaks seem to surround you as you get near the lake. Arriving at the calm, turquoise shores of the lake, you will find a plaque with some information on the dedication of the lake to Sid Williams, a local actor who played “Century Sam” at the 1958 British Columbia Centennial Celebrations. Here, you will also be greeted by scenic views of the lake itself, nestled in front of the rocky peaks of Black Cat Mountain and Mount Arthur Evans that tower above.
Making your way to the far side of the lake, take some time to explore the ice caves that remain preserved through the summer thanks to the shade provided by the surrounding peaks. Here, you will also be surrounded by massive rock walls and can spot some beautiful cascading waterfalls, as well as the south side of Comox Glacier. After taking in the sights around the picturesque lake, head back down the trail to return to your vehicle and avoid getting locked in by the 6 pm gate closure.
Insider Hints for Century Sam Lake
- Make sure to time this hike properly, as the road is privately owned and can only be accessed on weekends.
- Give yourself ample time to return to the gate by 6 pm to avoid getting locked in.
- Park lower down the road and hike into the trailhead if you do not have a high clearance vehicle.
Getting to the Century Sam Lake Trailhead
To reach the trailhead for Century Sam Lake from Courtenay, head southwest on Lake Trail Road for 4.5 km and turn left onto Comox Lake Road. Follow this for 16.7 km and take a slight left to stay on the road for another 1.5 km. Turn right onto Cruikshank Road and continue for 3.1 km. From here, turn right onto Cruikshank Main Road and follow it for 5.3 km. Make a right turn and continue for about 5.0 km to find the parking area.
Century Sam Lake Elevation Graph
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