Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Click PLAY or watch a short video on YouTube.

See how poorly my own video compares with that one.  😶

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Easy access from Campbell River on Vancouver Island.

Click for Google map

The up-and-back Elk River trail to Landslide Lake is one of the best hikes in Canada. 

  • 22km return
  • 1-3 days
  • 875m elevation gain/loss
  • Landslide lake  890m
  • pay camping fee at trailhead (CAD $10 / person in 2020)
  • no electricity nor mobile phone service. I carried a solar charger.
  • Phillip Stone – Exploring Strathcona Park guidebook

This is classic temperate rain forest. Old growth following the Elk River.

I got to the trailhead late in the afternoon early September.

Made the decision to hike only as far as the Butterwort campground (6km) rather than the more popular Upper Gravel Bar campground (9km).

map from Stone guidebook

The two campgrounds are literally gravel bars. Nothing fancy.

Butterwort campground

Next morning I headed on towards the Upper Gravel Bar campground.

crazy weird mushrooms

In 2020 the old pit toilets were being replaced. Temporary tent toilets in place.

Both campgrounds offer a chance to protect your food from bears.  I also had cheeky rodents appear twice at dinner while camping in the Elk River.

The highlight of the Elk River Trail is the last 1km scramble up to Landslide Lake.

The colours are gorgeous.

Landslide Lake was changed to the current form in 1946 by Canada’s largest recorded earthquake on land, measuring 7.2, centred in the nearby Forbidden Plateau area. The North Tower of Mount Colonel Foster sheared off, much of it collapsing into the lake.

related – MB Guiding – Elk River Trail

From the lake I backtracked 1km to find the Elk Pass trailhead, a challenging extension not made by many hikers.

The best hiking guidebook is Exploring Strathcona Park. Dead tree version available only.

See our list of the best hikes in North America.

One Reply to “Elk River trail to Landslide Lake, Strathcona Park B.C.”

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