Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles
“Time to roll out every superlative and accolade …
Cream Lake is breathtaking in every season … a scenic highlight of Vancouver Island, for that matter British Columbia!”
Phillip Stone – Exploring Strathcona Park guidebook
The up-and-back Bedwell Lake Trail:
- 10km return
- 1-3 days
- 875m elevation gain/loss
- Bedwell Lake lookout 980m
- pay camping fee at trailhead (CAD $10 / person in 2020)
- Baby Bedwell has only lake water. No creeks nearby.
- no electricity nor mobile phone service. I carried a solar charger.
If you get this far, definitely continue to Cream Lake. It’s an extra 4.8km one way, tougher hiking.
- 20km return from Jim Mitchell Lake Road trailhead
- 1-3 days (tough day hike)
- Elevation gain/loss 1225m one way
- High Point 1400m
- Free camping at Cream
Full Strathcona Park map (PDF)
CAUTION – A hiker died here in 2015, Anders Jason Newman. He slipped and fell from height somewhere above the lakes.
Click PLAY or watch a short video of my September hike on YouTube.
Cycled to the Bedwell trailhead, walking the last 3km as Jim Mitchell Lake road is steep!
Arriving late in the day, I ended up setting up my tent off trail short of the first campground.
Here’s the lovely Baby Bedwell campground I missed the previous day.
I continued up to Bedwell Lake campground looking for the sign to Cream Lake. There was none in 2020.
Take the path towards the fancy pit toilet and keep going.
Here’s Bedwell Lake looking down from above.
The trail to Bedwell I’d call moderate difficulty. The route to Cream more challenging.
There’s some route finding, as well, before reaching Little Jim Lake.
Once above Little Jim Lake on a hot day, I felt I was in California’s Sierra Nevadas, not the Pacific N.W.
There’s some scrambling. Granite. Gullies. But very little exposure.
Up here the wildflowers were in better shape than below. On the other hand, mosquitoes!
My first view of Cream Lake made it obvious why this hike is so popular. The colour is otherworldly.
Apparently you can see Della Falls from here too.
There’s no official campground. I set up my tent with a bit of wind protection.
Cream is base camp for those climbing Mt Septimus.
In snow or rain there are a couple of protected spots under a huge boulder.
Before dinner I scrambled up on to the approach to Septimus.
Early next morning I attempted to circumambulate the lake. Did not make it.
But the views were fantastic.
In the afternoon, the only two other hikers that night and myself decided to scramble Septimus as high as we could safely without mountaineering gear.
We knew it was possible but difficult to hike to the top without climbing equipment.
We eventually turned back due to crevasses in the ice.
For fun I tried down climbing the mountain rather than the scree. Nope. That did not work. I got cliffed out.
On a day like this I’d rank Bedwell / Cream Lake the BEST HIKE in Strathcona Provincial Park.
The best hiking guidebook is Exploring Strathcona Park. Dead tree version available only.
See our list of the best hikes in North America.