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.
The best hiking guidebook is Exploring Strathcona Park. Dead tree version available only.
See our list of the best hikes in North America.