Three Classic Day Hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park:
AKA: A Peak Bagger’s Guide to Paradise
AKA: How to achieve the most intense leg burn of your life in one day whilst taking in gorgeous views
A lot of people don’t know that there is a giant mountain range on Vancouver Island with peaks rivaling the Canadian Rockies (but without the crowds! Shh—don’t tell anyone!)
There’s a reason there’s a full mountain guiding school (Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training) that operates right here on site. If pure alpinism is what you’re after, we’ve put together a list of three classic day hikes in Strathcona Provincial Park. Now pack your ten essentials and a giant chocolate bar and go bag some peaks!
Bedwell Lake: This is the number one most recommended hike by Lodge staff and locals —and for good reason! One of the best things about the Bedwell Lake trail is that you gain quite a bit of elevation driving up to the trailhead, meaning you’ll be rewarded with alpine views much sooner than on some other hikes in the area. But with an elevation of 600m and a 12km round trip, this hike is still a serious undertaking. Come prepared for some extreme walking, people! View points, wildflowers and alpine lakes abound on this classic trek. Baby Bedwell Lake is a brave alpine swimmers paradise—it gets very little snow melt and warms up to Canadian standards in the summer. Keep going to Bedwell Lake for another dip, or a great spot to stop for a lakeside lunch.
Insider tip: At Baby Bedwell lake, rather than continuing straight up to Bedwell Lake, take a quick 10 minute detour to walk up to the obvious high point for the best views of the day! You’ll be rewarded with a stunning view point of Mt. Tom Taylor and beyond. Many folks miss this great opportunity!
Something else to consider is that routes to Cream Lake and Bedwell Sound depart from this area. It’s possible to turn this route into an overnight backpacking trip, with designated camping spots and tent platforms available.
Crest Mountain: Want to feel the burn and climb a mountain in a day? For all those lovers of type 2 fun, Crest Mountain is for you! (Type 2 Fun: It hurts a little while you’re at it but it’s REALLY fun after. The endorphin rush and epic story is super worth it). Plan at least a full day for all 1250 meters of elevation and 10 kilometers of pure glute-burning, gut-busting, water-drinking, power-bar-eating, mountain-climbing… goodness! Near the summit you will be rewarded with a sizable tarn (aka: mountain pool party!) and if you are feeling the pull to become one with the elements you might even consider an alpine dip!
After you’ve dried off and told your friends, while shivering—“The water’s warm! You should t-t-t-otaly try it!”—clamber up to the summit for the classic Canadian pastime: summit sunbathing. Standing tall at 1584 meters, the summit offers incredible views of the Park, Buttle Lake, and the north faces of Mt. Colonel Foster, Kings Peak, and Elk Horn. Lodge president Jamie Boulding says the North Faces are always the most spectacular. Now you know! You can thank him later.
Insider tip: Once you have rolled, ahem hiked, all the way back down the mountain side, you may find yourself hungry. This trailhead is a mere 15 minutes from the village of Gold River. There is made to order hot, cheesy pizza at the gas station— every haggard hiker’s dream. It’s surprisingly excellent pizza. For something to cool down with, you can find ice cream at Uptown Cappuccino in the village square. Oh, and beer and excellent pub food at The Ridge. You’re welcome.
The Elk River Trail: A classic out and back trail, this 22km round trip winds up through the Elk River Valley with some modest elevation gain (600m). The crown jewel of this expedition is Landslide Lake—a hanging glacier lake at the top of the 11km trail. Brave hikers have been known to plunge into its icy waters and it’s a great spot to stop and eat lunch! This trail has designated camping spots and is a popular choice for overnight backpackers and day hikers alike.
Insider Tip: Into mushroom hunting? In the fall, this is a great spot to look! Always seek qualified instruction before you attempt this.
Whether it’s eternal glory or eternal leg burn you’re looking for, the Strathcona Range will not disappoint. Enjoy your mountain journeys and don’t forget to tag us in your photos if you feel inspired! @strathconaparklodge
And if you’re too tired to drive home, remember: we’re an ideal basecamp for hikers. We’re located just 5 km from the park’s gate. Rent a self-contained waterfront cottage and end the day kicking back by a lakeside campfire, (or soaking in the giant legendary soaker tub in cottage 8!) Or, rent a canoe to access some lesser known trail heads in the area. More on that later…
Happy trails everyone!