Forbidden Plateau Loop

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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.
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
15.9 km
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.
629 m
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Directions to Trailhead
Forbidden Plateau Loop

The Forbidden Plateau Loop is a 15.9 km hiking route in the eastern portion of Strathcona Provincial Park that climbs through the hilly, forested landscape around several scenic lakes. Along the trail, you will be able to view the rugged mountains of the surrounding area and experience the natural beauty of the wilds of Vancouver Island. Several campsites are available along the trail, making it an ideal route for multi-day hiking trips.

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Route Description for Forbidden Plateau Loop

While the Forbidden Plateau Loop is only moderate in difficulty, there are some more technical sections after Helen Mackenzie Lake, requiring hikers to watch their footing. Although most of the trail is very well-maintained, make sure to wear proper hiking footwear and bring hiking poles to help you better traverse the path. Additionally, stretches of this route can be fairly wet and muddy during the early/late hiking seasons due to the trail’s proximity to several lakes and streams.

Setting off from the parking area next to the Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre, follow the trail to the south as you make your way through Paradise Meadows. This initial portion of the trail cuts through a marshy area, so you will need to hike along a boardwalk as you pass by several small ponds. Head right at the trail junction to make your way towards the wooded shores of Helen Mackenzie Lake before continuing around its western edge. As you begin to climb uphill, you will have the forested slopes of Mount Elma on your left, and you will be able to spot the rugged Mount Albert Edward to the southwest.

Continue hiking through the Forbidden Plateau as you pass by the Ranger’s Cabin on a course towards Kwai Lake. Here, the trail will skirt around the southern edge of the small woodland lake as you pass by the campsite and begin to loop around the eastern side of Mount Elma. You will soon pass by the Croteau and Lady Lakes as you hike through a beautiful but dense stretch of forest that will lead you in between Helen Mackenzie Lake and Battleship Lake. After passing these, continue downhill as you once again travel through Paradise Meadows on your return to the parking area.

Getting to the Forbidden Plateau Loop Trailhead

To reach the parking area for the Forbidden Plateau Loop from the Mount Washington Alpine Resort, head south on Strathcona Parkway for 1.3 km and turn right onto Nordic Drive. Continue for 2.4 km until you reach the parking lot at the Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre.

Route Information

  • When to do


  • Backcountry Campsites

    Kwai Lake Campsite, Helen Mackenzie Lake Campground

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type


Forbidden Plateau Loop Elevation Graph

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