Hiking In Strathcona Provincial Park
Strathcona hikes are a truly special experience, allowing outdoor enthusiasts the chance to explore the rugged interior of Vancouver Island. Far removed from the coast, the sense of remoteness in the region is overwhelming, making Strathcona the perfect hiking destination in British Columbia if you are after a bit of solitude. For anyone looking to take in the majesty of Vancouver Island, Strathcona hikes are a great place to start!
Strathcona Provincial Park is the jewel of Vancouver Island: 250,000 hectares of protected wilderness, teeming with unique flora and fauna, rare wildlife, and some of the best hiking trails in British Columbia. Indeed, this gorgeous park is a hiker’s paradise, but visitors to the area often overlook it, preferring to head for the better-known coastal areas. However, we think that Strathcona Provincial Park is a rare hidden gem, and Strathcona hikes are the perfect activity for adventure travellers.
Visitors going hiking in Strathcona Provincial Park typically head to one of two areas: Buttle Lake, and the Forbidden Plateau, so-named as a result of an ancient Indian legend about the unexplained disappearance of visitors who strayed too far from their companions. The rest of the park is somewhat wild, filled with trails just waiting to be explored.
Vancouver Island’s isolation from the rest of the mainland has allowed the park’s wildlife to develop in unique ways, and Strathcona is home to many rare species including the Vancouver Island marmot, the gray jay, the Vancouver Island wolf and the white-tailed ptarmigan. However, the crowning glory of the park has to be its flowers – you’ll pass along trails filled with an immense variety of wild alpine flora, including rare cedar trees and delicate Columbine flowers. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring the many Strathcona hikes that can be found within the provincial park today!
Types Of Hiking In Strathcona Provincial Park
Strathcona Provincial Park is perfectly located for an amazing holiday on Vancouver Island – you can find yourself scaling snow-capped peaks in the morning and taking a dip in the ocean in the afternoon! This makes it an ideal destination for a family break, where kids can enjoy interesting, moderate trails, with plenty of other activities to keep them occupied. There are many places for swimming, canoeing and biking throughout the park, meaning you’ll certainly never be bored during your stay.
There are also some real lung-busting Strathcona hikes for visitors looking for a challenge. Many of our favorite trails include steep, rapid ascents, meaning that you’ll get a good workout along with some incredible views. The trails are also full of interest and variety, from boardwalks through flower-filled meadows to dramatic ridge walks with mind-blowing views. In essence, there’s something for everyone in this gorgeous natural reserve.
Easy Hikes In Strathcona Provincial Park
Upper Myra Falls Hike: Strathcona Provincial Park is filled with beautiful waterfalls, and this hike out to the Upper Myra Falls is a wonderful way to experience everything the park has to offer. The trail passes through lush, old growth forest, and ascends up a mild slope to the viewpoint for the falls. This is one of the best easy hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park, and is best experienced in the spring when the falls are at their finest!
Family Hikes In Strathcona Provincial Park
Lady Falls Hike: The short hike to Lady Falls is a wonderful family hike in Strathcona Provincial Park. The trail follows a well-defined trail lined with benches, and with plenty of spots for kids to explore. The falls themselves thunder 30 meters into the green, mossy ravine, and the specially designed viewing platform offers a wonderful view of the water.
Day Hikes In Strathcona Provincial Park
Mount Albert Edward Hike: This challenging hike is one of the best day hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park. Mount Albert Edward is perched on the edge of the Forbidden Plateau, and is one of the most iconic peaks in the park, with steep, sloping sides and a distinctive pointed summit. It’s a long day hike, but it’s always possible to break it up by camping at Circlet Lake, and the views from the top of the mountain are simply remarkable.
Challenging Hikes In Strathcona Provincial Park
Mount Myra Hike: Deep in the heart of Strathcona Provincial Park, Mount Myra offers one of the best and most popular hikes in the region. The trail passes gorgeous lakes, and offers a stunning panorama over Strathcona Provincial Park, including the Golden Hinde, Mount Tom Taylor, and Mount Tellwood. Mount Myra is a long, challenging hike, but the incredible views along the way make it worth all the effort.
Best Hikes In Strathcona Provincial Park
Flower Ridge Hike: The Flower Ridge Hike is arguably the best hike in Strathcona Provincial Park, offering stellar views and full day of hiking along a flower-filled alpine ridge. The trail begins at Buttle Lake and climbs steeply through old growth forest before emerging out on to the ridge. You’ll be treated to an amazing view over the Nine Peaks, Cream Lake and Big Interior Mountain. What’s more, the ridge more than lives up to its name – you’ll encounter hundreds of rare species of alpine flowers, and walk across a carpet of vibrant, pink mountain heather.
Elk River Trail Hike: The Elk River Trail passes along the river all the way to Landslide Lake, providing one of the most enjoyable hikes in the park. The trail is surrounded by lush forests, coated in a carpet of fragrant moss, and eventually rises up onto a ridge offering magnificent views of Mount Colonel Foster.
Lake Helen MacKenzie Hike: The hike out to Lake Helen MacKenzie passes through some of the most beautiful territory in Strathcona Provincial Park. You’ll hike on boardwalks that pass through lush meadows, filled with some of the park’s rarest flowers, and surrounded by butterflies and dragonflies. The lake sits against a backdrop of stunning, tall mountains and is surrounded by sub-alpine glades and ponds. This is one of the best family hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park.
Bedwell Lake Hike: If you’re looking for a moderate day hike in Strathcona Provincial Park, this hike to Bedwell Lake is ideal. The route passes along well-maintained, boarded trails, with stunning views of Big Interior Peak and Mount Tom Taylor. Baby Bedwell Lake, just before the main lake opens up, is a wonderful place for a refreshing swim on hot days!
Mount Becher Hike: Located in the east of Strathcona Provincial Park, this trail begins at the Forbidden Plateau and extends all the way to the dome-shaped Mount Becher. The route passes through some of the famous flower-filled meadows that Strathcona is known for, offering the opportunity to see some beautiful, rare species. From the top of the mountain the views are stunning, with a vista that includes the Comox Glacier and Mount Albert Edward.
Augerpoint Beach Hike: The route out to Augerpoint Beach is a wonderful, easy walk suitable for the whole family. Augerpoint Beach lines the side of Buttle Lake, offering wonderful views across the lake and to the peaks on the opposite side. Mount Myra towers over the water and provides fantastic photo opportunities. Don’t forget your swimming gear – the lake is perfect for a dip on warm days!
When Is The Best Time To Hike In Strathcona Provincial Park?
Summer is the best time to hike in Strathcona Provincial Park, when you’ll find dry, sunny days and perfect conditions out on the trails. Vancouver Island is known for its rain, but summer in Strathcona is usually warm and dry (notwithstanding the odd shower!). Higher altitude trails may see snow as early as September, and spring snowfall can cling to the peaks until late June, but the lower trails are usually clear from early April to the start of October. Winter and early spring are usually wet, cloudy and cold, with plenty of snow in the hills, limiting the accessibility for many Strathcona hikes.
Other Outdoor Activities in Strathcona Provincial Park
Strathcona hikes are some of the most popular outdoor adventures on tap in the region, but there are many other activities on offer in this beautiful part of BC! Canoeing is a very popular activity throughout the park, especially on Buttle Lake, and there are many opportunities for fishing, horseback riding, cycling, and climbing all through the summer. In winter, visitors can enjoy backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, and this can be a wonderful time to see the park, when it’s covered in a fresh, glistening coat of snow.
How To Plan A Trip To Strathcona Provincial Park
If you’re looking for tips on how to plan a trip to Strathcona Provincial Park, look no further! We’ve put together the ultimate guide to visiting the park, complete with accommodation tips, advice on getting there and away, and everything you’ll need to know about the activities on offer. Check out our guide to planning a trip in Strathcona Provincial Park, and start dreaming of your next adventure!
Best Hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park
Paradise Meadows Trail
The Paradise Meadows Trail is an 8.5 km loop trail in Strathcona Provincial Park that passes through a beautiful meadow before skirting around the tranquil shores of Lake Helen Mackenzie and Battleship Lake. This route is made up of nice rolling terrain and beautiful scenery and is an excellent option for a family outing on the weekend that will leave everyone feeling like a true adventurer. Make sure to grab a trail map from the wilderness centre to explore some other trails in the area.
Cruikshank Canyon Lookout
The hike to the Cruikshank Canyon Lookout is a lengthy 20.4 km out-and-back journey that will take you past countless lakes and over the Forbidden Plateau to reach a spectacular viewpoint overlooking the wooded expanse of the canyon. From the rocky outcrop on the canyon’s edge, you can take in the natural beauty of the rugged Strathcona landscape with its numerous mountain peaks and undulating ridgelines. This route can be done as a single day or multi-day trip with an overnight stay at one of several campsites along the trail.
Crest Mountain Trail
The Crest Mountain Trail is an 11.4 km out-and-back hiking route in Strathcona Provincial Park that climbs up a series of switchbacks to reach the summit of Crest Mountain. Along the trail, hikers will pass through scenic stretches of forest and be greeted with terrific panoramic views of the summit. Route finding along the trail can be tricky depending on the weather conditions, but those who can make it up the peak will undoubtedly be rewarded for their effort.
Old Cabin Loop
The Old Cabin Loop is a 2.4 km scenic hiking route within Strathcona Provincial Park that travels around a series of small ponds and a beautiful stretch of old-growth forest. The marshy landscape is complemented by a series of boardwalks that make for a family-friendly hike with the opportunity to spot various wildlife species. This trail is also connected to a strong network of routes waiting to be explored by hikers looking for a more extended adventure in the area.
Rossiter’s Rise Trail
The Rossiter’s Rise Trail is an overgrown hiking route in Strathcona Provincial Park that loops through the area around Paradise Ponds along a 5.0 km track. The western portions of the trail are primarily used for snowshoeing, meaning that hikers will need to find their way through the overgrown terrain. The trail finishes along the scenic boardwalks around Paradise Ponds.
Karst Creek Trail
The Karst Creek Trail is a 1.3 km hiking loop that will take you through a beautiful stretch of Pacific temperate rainforest near the shores of Buttle Lake in Strathcona Provincial Park. The forested route traverses various terrain, including dirt paths and rocky creek beds, making it an ideal area for exploring with kids. Along the trail, you will experience a peaceful rainforest setting and a small cascading waterfall.
Shepherd Creek Trail
The Shepherd Creek Trail is a quick 1.8 km hike in Strathcona Provincial Park that offers a perfect way to get out and explore the woodland landscape near the Ralph River Campground. While the trail is family-friendly, it also climbs up a series of small switchbacks that can make the route more difficult for some hikers. Along the route, you will have some excellent views of the terrain around Buttle Lake, including the rushing waters of Shepherd Creek and partial mountain views through the tree cover.
Three Pond Loop Trail
The Three Pond Loop Trail is a 0.6 km hiking route in Strathcona Provincial Park that passes through a lovely stretch of forest on the way to visit several small ponds. Located along the western shore of Buttle Lake, the trail features flat and easy to navigate terrain, making it ideal for hikers of all skill levels. Combine this trail with a weekend stay in the nearby campground to make the most of your time in the park.
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