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Golden Hinde Traverse, Strathcona Vancouver Island

golden-hinde-traverse,-strathcona-vancouver-island

By BestHike editor Rick McCharles

I’m hoping to climb the highest mountain on Vancouver Island 2,195 m (7,201 ft) late August, early September.  Fewer bugs.  Dryer trails. … Hopefully.

Many try and fail to get to this summit.  It’s a scramble up snow or rock at the top.

The mountain took its name from Sir Francis Drake‘s ship, the Golden Hind, named by an early fur-trading captain who was reminded of Drake’s ship as sunset hit the mountain

Jes Scott made it August 2019.  Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Jes had tried and failed in 2017.

My plan is to hike the 47km Golden Hinde Traverse on the Elk River trail through to Myra Falls. I’ll only attempt the summit as a detour if conditions, health, time and weather permit. No pressure.  ?

Cost for a guided climb is about CAD $1500 for 5 days.

 

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Buttle Lake Campground, Strathcona Park B.C.

buttle-lake-campground,-strathcona-park-bc.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

First time to this part of Strathcona Provincial Park,  Vancouver Island, I decided to tent at the biggest campground on arrival — Buttle Lake.

And was glad I did.

Easy access from Campbell River.  I cycled.

Campgrounds had just opened following the COVID-19 shutdown.  Their reservation system was still getting going.

I could choose any site not listed on the whiteboard.

There was one other cyclist that night — John, a cabinet maker from Vancouver — who was out-of-work at the moment from his set design job for the  TV series Riverdale.

We decided to share a site and campfire.

After setting up the tent, I checked out the many short hikes accessible from camp.

Best was the Beach Access Trail

This lake has many drowned tree stumps. Very evocative.

I stumbled upon 5 campsites not shown on any map.  Cool.

The Ranger informed me they were Marine Campsites, designated for those fishing and boating.  BUT that they were free until June 15th.

John and I booked in for the night of June 14th.

I can hardly recall a more perfect camp. 

Buttle, like most high mountain lakes, is prone to high winds due convection created by the sun heating the canyon walls during the day. Fishermen try to get off the lake by eleven.

Early next morning, I had a visitor.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The other big car campground in this part of the Park is called Ralph River. On paper, it’s similar. But I would recommend you camp at Buttle Lake instead, if you can.

Ralph River Campground Strathcona
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Strathcona Park BC – Buttle Lake area day hikes

strathcona-park-bc-–-buttle-lake-area-day-hikes

By BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Strathcona Provincial Park,  Vancouver Island, offers many challenging multi-day adventures. And many very challenging day hikes.

In this post, however, I focus on easy highway-accessible day hikes recommended for kids, families, everyone.

I hiked most of these.  All good.

Almost everyone stops for the short walk to the viewing platform at Lady Falls.

  • Elk River Viewpoint
  • Lupin Falls
  • Auger Point
  • Karst Creek
  • Wild Ginger
  • Shepherd Creek

Without question Lower Myra Falls is best of the easy day hikes.  Don’t miss it.   And bring a bathing suit if weather is good.


Auger Point Fire Trail was interesting in seeing how some trees can survive major forest fires.


If you stay at Buttle Lake campground, I loved their Beach Access Trail.

I was cycling this trip, hiding my bike in the trees between each short nature walk.

BestHike editor Rick McCharles
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Bedwell Lake trails, Strathcona Park B.C.

bedwell-lake-trails,-strathcona-park-bc.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

The Bedwell Lakes trails are some of the best in Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island.

We’ve added Bedwell to our list of best hikes in North America.

The up-and-back Bedwell Lake Trail:

      • 10km return
      • 1-3 days
      • 875m elevation gain/loss
      • Bedwell Lake lookout  980m 
      • camping fee at trailhead
Bedwell Lake lookout

If adventurous, you could continue to longer routes including:

  • climbing Big Interior mountain
  • continue to Mt Myra
  • continue to Phillips Ridge
  • exit via Flower Ridge
  • exit via Price Creek
  • climbing Mt Tom Taylor

Best would be to continue to Bedwell Sound, organizing a water taxi to take you to Tofino.

Good navigation needed on all those options, of course.

If I had proper snow gear I would have continued on to Cream Lake (at least) where you get views of Nine Peaks, Mt Septimus and Della Falls, highest in Canada.

I did talk to one couple who were trying to posthole their way to Cream.  And they looked prepared.  It would be easier later in the season.

CAUTION – A hiker died here in 2015, Anders Jason Newman. He slipped and fell from height somewhere above the lakes.


Cycled to the trailhead, walking the last 3km as Jim Mitchell Lake road was steep!

Full Strathcona Park map (PDF)

Started up about 3pm in perfect weather.

Bedwell is possibly the best maintained trail in Strathcona. So steep and (potentially) wet, numerous anti-erosion measures are necessary: wood bridges, metal bridges, boardwalk, etc.

I reached Baby Bedwell lake about 6pm. A gorgeous vista looking over to Mt. Tom Taylor.

Relaxed. Enjoyed dinner from the rocks watching the fading light.

Next morning perfect weather again. No wind.

En route to the big lake are a number of steel ladders and one chain assist. It would be very slippery when wet descending in the rain.

Wow. You arrive well above Bedwell lake with astonishing vistas.

There are tent platforms at both lakes. Personally I prefer those at Baby Bedwell over these at Bedwell.

With good weather, my return back down the same trail seemed easy to me.

What a nice 2-day hike!

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Flower Ridge Trails, Strathcona Park B.C.

flower-ridge-trails,-strathcona-park-bc.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Experts agree that the Flower Ridge trails are some of the best in Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island.

The up-and-back Flower Ridge Trail:

  • 27km return
  • 1-3 days
  • 1970m elevation gain/loss
  • summit of Central Crags 1642m 
  • no permit needed

If adventurous, you could return via other longer routes including:

  • Comox Glacier to Buttle Lake Traverse
  • Ash River Horseshoe
  • Mt. Rosseau to Cream to Bedwell lakes
  • Green lake to Price creek

Good navigation needed on all those options, of course.

I was actually hoping to return via the Henshaw Creek Horseshoe since it returns you to where you started. A perfect loop.

In fact, it’s one of guidebook author Phillip Stone’s favourite hikes in the Park.

But I would have needed a guide and full mountaineering gear to pull that off in June.  Perhaps a helicopter, as well. ?

I was there early season.


Beautiful morning. Ideal campsite in the Marine Park next to Buttle Lake campground.

It was June 14th. Free. ($10/night/site starting June 15th.)

I enjoyed a leisurely morning.

Next cycled to the trailhead, easy access from gorgeous Buttle Lake Parkway.

It’s close to Ralph River campground.

Full Strathcona Park map (PDF).

Strathcona Park had just opened following the COVID-19 shutdown.

The previous day I’d tried King’s Peak with a light day pack. Didn’t get higher than 770m due to high creeks.

Learning my lesson, for Flower Ridge I brought food for up to 3 days. Full pack.

Started up about 5pm.

Like many Strathcona hikes, Flower Ridge starts with a steep climb. But less steep than most others

Not many views early on. When you do, it’s of the the Myra Falls Mine (opened 1959)

The mine is currently owned by Nyrstar and produces zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold concentrates.

Any time you are hiking a ridge, finding running water might be a problem. But my guidebook said there was one reliable creek — I never found it.

No worries. There is plenty of snow to melt. You dig to find the clean white stuff.

I set up 8:30pm at the first obvious campsite. Days are long in Canada in June.

Normally my dinners are based around instant mashed potatoes. But for this trip I went all in for instant stuffing.

I carried my 1.2 pound solar charger for the first time. Normally it stays with my bikepacking gear.

There’s no electricity in Strathcona. No mobile phone service.

I climbed higher next morning. But quickly the snow got too deep. Just like King’s Peak the previous day, I only reached perhaps 800m elevation before turning back.

The ridge is about 1200m.  In those meadows I would have found more famed spring flowers.

I really need to return to Strathcona late season: August – September.

#LessonLearned

If you want to do it right, click over to MBGuiding:

Flower Ridge Trail – July 13-15, 2018

MBGuiding.ca

 

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DON’T hike King’s Peak, Strathcona in June

don’t-hike-king’s-peak,-strathcona-in-june

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

  • 8th highest peak in the Park 2065m
  • 14km round trip
  • elevation gain/loss 1915m
  • no permit required

I’d hoped to hike high like Outside Epic in one day.

Some tricky scrambling.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

That didn’t happen. ?

I was there June 14, 2020 — far too early in the season.

It started well.  Lovely weather.  Easy access from highway 28 between Strathcona and Gold River.

Second growth forest.  Some big trees.

Quite quickly I was using my hands to scramble tree roots.

I turned back after reaching a raging creek at 770m that looked dangerous to cross.  Snow melt.

My total hike was 4 hours 40 minutes and I didn’t get very high.  Not even to the snow line.

In June I should have planned for at least 2 days.  Brought crampons and ice axe.  Also a rope for creek crossing.

Live and learn.

If you want to hike in a day,  schedule any Strathcona peak climb for August / September.   Less snow, shallower creeks, fewer bugs. 

The ‘trail’ becomes a route above the treeline so navigation required.

Exploring Strathcona Park by Phil Stone provides 3 main alternate routes to the top.

related – King’s Peak CLIMBING options (PDF)