Elk River Trail

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Hard
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
6-8.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
24.6 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
666 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.6
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Panoramic views from the Elk River Trail hike in Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

The hike along the Elk River Trail to Landslide Lake is a classic Strathcona Provincial Park hike. You can choose to hike the Elk River trail as a day hike or weekend backpacking adventure. Remaining relatively level along a well-maintained trail makes the trek out to see the stunning Mt. Colonel Foster all the easier.

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Route Description for Elk River Trail

The Elk River Trail is a pretty hike. It’s also nice as there is only one trail to follow, and you follow it to the end at Landslide Lake.

From the parking lot, start this hike along the wide path and hike up a few switchbacks to gain a small notch. Descend the other side to meet up with the Elk River. Depending on the time of the year the river can be as calm as a cucumber or wildly raging.

Continue along the Elk River Trail which loosely follows the river, winding up the stunning Elk River Valley. Though logged in the 1940’s for the war effort, the Elk River Valley has regenerated and has returned to a beautiful area. With massive trees, stunning mosses and gorgeous wildlife, the ambiance of this hike is truly incredible.

Along the hike you will pass two campgrounds. Each have a bear hang for your food and a toilet. They both offer great spots to camp for those wanting to split up the mileage and make this a backpack.

After the second campground you will come to a wooden bridge and cross the Elk River. On the other side you will find yourself on a rocky slab. Veer to the right here and follow the river, looking out for a large cairn marking the trail.

Finish the hike up to Landslide Lake by switch backing up this final steep leg of the hike. You will eventually crest the ridge and find yourself at the toe of one of the most impressive mountains in the whole park. The Patagonian aesthetics of Mt. Colonel Foster are not to be understated. Like a sharks fin, it juts out of the ground. Looking backwards you will also be able to see the south aspect of Elkhorn Mountain.

Enjoy the ambiance of Landslide Lake then hike back the way you came.

Insider Hints for Elk River Trail

  • The Elk River Trail is another fantastic backpacking option if you don’t want to do the entire hike in one day.
  • Take note that no camping is allowed around Landslide Lake.

Getting to the Elk River Trail Trailhead

From Campbell River head west along the Gold River Highway BC-28 for 47.0 km. A few kilometres after you enter the park, turn right to stay on BC-28, following signs for Gold River. Continue along this highway for just under 24.0 km, passing over Buttle Lake and heading west along the Elk River Drainage. Watch out for signs for the Elk River Trail on your left. If you see signs that you’ve exited the park, you’ve gone too far.

Route Information

  • When to do

    July - October

  • Backcountry Campsites

    Two campgrounds along the trail

  • Toilets

    At trailhead and campgrounds along route

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate to High

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Elk River Trail Elevation Graph

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Elk River Trail Reviews

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