Hiking Castlecrag, Vancouver Island

Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

This was my favourite hike on the Forbidden Plateau.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I’d camped at Duck Pond, Circlet Lake campground.

I camped 3 nights at Circlet Lake altogether. Lovely.

From Circlet it’s not far to the Castlecrag trail marked in orange on the map. Look for the sign to Moat Lake.

Click for LARGER version.

I hiked the route marked in orange. Here’s the original Park map online.

This was a foggy and somewhat hazy day.

But plenty clear enough to see where I was headed.

I’d seen lovely Moat Lake the day before from the Albert Edward hike.

For Castlecrag you circumambulate the far side, crossing the worst bridge I’d seen in Strathcona 2020.

En route a helicopter flew into Moat Lake Retreat, an island you can rent with 2 cabins sleeping a total of 10 people. It’s a legacy from when Clinton Wood first built a lodge here in 1934.

In good weather, finding the route is not all that difficult. Follow the cairns and (possibly) ribbons.

Much of this adventure is above the treeline.

Overall the hiking is more difficult than on nearby Edward Albert as there is a fair bit of boulder hopping over avalanche slopes.

Two highlights end of September: no mosquitoes and autumn colours.

The turnoff UP to Castlecrag is not signed. Watch for the big cairn on the right.

Castlecrag 1740m (5709ft) is a satellite peak to Mt Albert Edward 2093m and many serious hikers / trail runners connect the two via Mt Frink. I’d originally planned to do that myself — but found it too difficult and risky on my own. Also, days are short end of September. I might have spent some hours in the dark on the way down.

It’s a short climb from the cairn to the summit of Castlecrag.

I had great fun scrambling around the crags.

See all the full resolution photos from this hike on Flickr.

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

See our list of the best hikes in North America.  

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