Troubridge Trudge – Sunshine Coast Trail, B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

click for larger version

I’d previously hiked two other sections of the (roughly) 180km Sunshine Coast Trail:

Sarah Point to Manzanita hut (2015)

Mowat Bay to Lois Main (2016)

Pestered by wasps and other biting insects on those two earlier trips, I deliberately returned late season. No bugs.

This time I headed for the Troubridge Trudge section:

Oct 24 – Lang Bay to Golden Stanley hut (km 145)
Oct 25 – Golden Stanley to Mt Troubridge hut (km 158)
Oct 26 – Troubridge to Fairview Bay hut (km 173)
Oct 27 – Fairview to Lang Bay (km 180)

You can hike 42km in either direction. It’s called the trudge as this is the highest section of the Sunshine Coast Trail.

click for larger version

More maps.



Having reached the Sunshine Coast via ferry from Comox, I stayed in a Powell River hotel.

Harbour at dusk

Weather forecast looking good next morning, I cycled down to Lang Bay.

A lovely autumn day.

Hid my bike in the trees close to the highway near Lang Bay.

Walked the gravel road called Canoe Main to join the Sunshine Coast Trail on Lois lake. (I could have walked Lois Main, the older road.)

Lois lake was created by a dam.

The mountains beyond the lake look tempting.

You eventually turn uphill inland on a trail towards Elephant lake.

It’s steep but not all that far to Golden Stanley hut, completed 2016. It’s not mentioned in my guidebook published 2013, of course.

I was carrying my tent as I’d seen online that the huts were closed due to COVID-19.

But the hut was open after all. Since I was the only person there, I moved in.

Impressive pit toilet.


Oct 25 – Golden Stanley to Mt Troubridge hut (km 158)

Mt Troubridge is the highest point on the Sunshine Coast Trail. I was happy to have good weather.

On the other hand, surprised to see snow at such low elevation in October.

It was Ho Ho Ho. 😀

In 2020 everyone takes the newer of two possible trails to the summit. The best route is always well signed.

I still easily reached Troubridge hut by early afternoon.

Here’s how it looks in summer.

And here’s how it looked when I arrived.

Mt Troubridge hut was flown up in pieces by helicopter.

It replaced the Troubridge Hilton, a small communications hut that’s now more used as an emergency shelter on the top of the mountain.

I assumed I’d have Troubridge hut to myself again when Chris and his dog arrived. Rather than sharing a small space, Chris took the A-frame. I stayed in the hut on my own.

He had the views of Jervis inlet and could see all the way to Powell River.

Turns out winter camping is quite comfortable — when you can sleep in a hut rather than a tent.

I took plenty of winter wonderland video. And later managed to accidentally delete most of it. Somehow. 😕


Oct 26 – Troubridge to Fairview Bay hut (km 173)

More good weather. I was worried the descent might be slippery, but new snow was mostly grippy. No problems in approach shoes.

Navigation no problem in winter either.

I stopped 800m lower for lunch at Rainy Day lake (km 169) which has a hut.

Winter hiking is much different than doing the same thing in summer.

Eventually snow disappeared. Went away. Like magic. 😀

It got easier on the way down to Fairview Bay.

Again I had the hut to myself.

And again I had plenty of time for photos.


There’s the ferry I’ll be catching to North Vancouver.

Next morning a leisurely 2 hour walk out. Autumn is my favourite time of year for hiking.

This is the end of the South Coast Trail. But I have one section left to finish, close to Powell River. Looking forward to it already.

I had to telephone the bus for pick-up. But it only cost $2.25 to get me back to Lang Bay where I retrieved my bike.

If you want to learn more about Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hike, check first the official website and our own information page:

BestHike – Sunshine Coast Trail

sunshinecoast-trail.com

Willingdon Creek Trail, Powell River B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

If you ever get to the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, there are two unique attractions in Powell River you might easily miss:

  1. Powell River Giant Hulks breakwater
  2. Willingdon Beach Trail

First, Willingdon.

Though it’s an easy, flat 1.2km stroll one way, I still rank Willingdon one of the best hikes in North America because it’s so unique. Historical.

Started 1910 as a logging railway along the coast, today it’s an outdoor museum of forestry technology, gradually being consumed by temperate rainforest.

Start at the main coastal park in downtown Powell River and walk towards Willingdon Beach Campsite (excellent, by the way).

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

After you finish the trail, if you continue walking towards the Pulp Mill — staying as close to the water as you can — you’ll get some distant views of the largest floating Hulk breakwater in the world. Very cool.

It’s used to protect the Pulp Mill’s log storage pond.

While nine of these ten ships were built during the Second World War, the tenth ship, the S. S. Peralta, is the last remaining WWI concrete ship afloat.

Click PLAY or see them on YouTube.

related – trip report – Adventure Awaits – Willingdon Beach Trail

Hiking Skookumchuck Narrows, B.C.

Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park is a little known highlight of the Sunshine Coast of British ColumbiaCanada.

It was established on August 25, 1957 to protect the Sechelt Rapids located in the Skookumchuck Narrows between Sechelt Inlet and Jervis Inlet.

Famous with the surf kayak crowd.

However, these waters are dangerous. People have drowned.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Hikers enjoy an old-growth rainforest hiking trail leading to this powerful tidal phenomenon.

Each day, tides force large amounts of seawater through the narrows

The difference in water levels can exceed 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in height. … It is sometimes claimed to be the fastest tidal rapids in the world.

Click for larger version.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I got to the jumping off point, Egmont, early morning.

Because Egmont is off the main highway, most people speed past. It’s got an interesting end of the world vibe.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Hid my bike in the trees close to the nearby trailhead.

Enjoyed the wide, easy trail to North Point lookout.

Many turn back at North Point. But I continued on the rough trail to Roland Point.

Click PLAY or get a glimpse of my October hike on YouTube.


Related – Likely the world’s most powerful tidal current is not Skookumchuck, but the Saltstraumen maelstrom in Norway.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Hiking Mt Albert Edward

Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Click PLAY or watch the climb in less than a minute on YouTube.

Mt Albert Edward, 6th highest peak 2093m (6867ft) on Vancouver Island, is well known because it’s visible from Mount Washington Alpine Resort.

It’s named for Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

Most who climb it start at Circlet Lake campground.

From the campground it’s only 5.5km to the summit, but it took much longer for me than I anticipated.

The muddiest trail I found was that just departing Duck Pond.

I hiked Circlet to the summit on the trail marked in red.

Click for LARGER version.

Here’s the original Park map online.

Bring enough water for the day as there no great gushing streams en route.

At the sign pointing left to Moat Lake, keep right for Edward Albert.

The ascent itself is only medium difficulty IF the weather is good.

Some scrambling.

I had perfect weather. But it can be deadly in normal weather — cloudy, cold, wind. Don’t go for it unless you are confident visibility will hold.

Follow occasional cairns and, possibly, ribbons. Navigation is not all that difficult in good weather.

Moat Lake is gorgeous.

At one point you can follow a series of aluminum poles.

Once you reach a wide shoulder leading up to the summit, it’s easy going with terrific views.

Here’s the view looking back on Mt Washington Ski Hill.

Be wary of cornices especially on the north and west sides of the ridge.

There was not much snow left end of September 2020 when I was there.

What a great day!

Click PLAY or watch some video from the top on YouTube.

VIDEO

Some hike 3 peaks (Edward Albert, Frink, and Castlecrag) from Circlet, a tough go!

Other adventures that include Edward Albert summit are the Augerpoint Traverse and Comox Range Traverse.

Me?

I headed back to Circlet Lake for siesta.

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

Hiking the Paradise – Circlet Lake Loop

Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Click PLAY or get a glimpse of the scenery on YouTube. (3min)

Paradise Meadows is the best and most convenient trailhead in Strathcona, largest and oldest (1911) Provincial Park in B.C..

It’s easy access to the Forbidden Plateau on paved Strathcona Parkway up to Mt Washington Alpine Resort 1100m, 20km up from the inland highway.

Close to Courtney, Cumberland, and Campbell River. The nearest airport and ferry port are at Comox.

Looking from Raven Lodge at the trailhead, the most distinct peak is sharp Albert Edward, 6th highest mountain on the island.

It seemed to me in 2020 that Strathcona Park did not have as much staff as they would like. Happily the volunteers of the Strathcona Wilderness Institute are often in person at Paradise trailhead. Make a donation if they help you out.

With loops for all ability levels, this area is ideal for children and well-behaved dogs.

Centennial Loop (2.5km)
Paradise Meadows Loop (4.2km)
Lake Helen Mackenzie – Battleship Lake Loop (8km)
Helen MacKenzie-Kwai Lake-Croteau Loop (14km)

Those trails closest to the trailhead are best maintained: bridges, pit toilets, good signage and much boardwalk. In fact, the Centennial Loop is wheelchair and scooter accessible.

Check the map. I hiked in to Circlet Lake on yellow, mostly looped back on green. But there are MANY possible different interconnecting loops.

Click for LARGER version.

Here’s the original Park map online.

Most hikers on the Forbidden Plateau stay down in the subalpine: forested hills, postcard pretty lakes, babbling brooks, and lovely meadows.

It’s wet. Expect rain.

Expect mud. 🙃

If we couldn’t enjoy all this beautiful boardwalk, we’d often be wading wetlands.

Water water everywhere, yet I found I had to treat almost every source. There are not all that many fast running creeks.

I passed one picturesque Ranger cabin.

Three first-come, first-served campgrounds are quite good, the closest at Lake Helen Mackenzie near the trailhead. Each has pit toilets and bear proof food lockers. (CAD$10 / person / night in 2020)

I was there late September 2020. Very few mosquitoes! That’s not always the case here.

I hiked in to Circlet about 9.5km one way. About 4 hours walking. Stayed 3 nights.

Arrived just before dark. Camped on pretty Duck Pond rather than the lake itself.

Circlet is not likely to fill up — but you MIGHT find no space left at Helen Mackenzie and Kwai Lake campgrounds on a busy day during the short summer season.

I love the large wooden tent pads in Strathcona.

Click PLAY or see Circlet from the air on Vimeo.

From Circlet base camp:

day 1 – hiked Edward Albert (trip report & video)

day 2 – hiked Castlecrag (trip report & video)

Both are excellent. Myself and others I met while there both liked Crags better, even though it’s lower.

From Circlet, I also tried and failed to find the trail to Amphitheatre Lake. There’s no signage.

If I had found Amphitheatre, I would have tried to continue up to Sunrise Lake.

Moat Lake is lovely, however. If you camp at Circlet, definitely make the short day hike up to Moat if not all the way to Castlecrag.

Rather than backtrack on my return, I looped.

One detour without pack took me to Cruickshank Canyon Lookout.

It’s a bit depressing to see a lot of clearcut from that vantage. Seems to me the forestry industry should repair damage more quickly.

One highlight is looking for large, weird mushrooms.

The autumn colours were lovely too.

I stopped at Kwai Lake to recharge my batteries figuratively and literally. There’s no electricity in Strathcona so I used solar on this trip.

Croteau Lake is a 4th campground opened 2018, only available for groups booking in advance.

I wandered leisurely — stopping often for photos and video — back to Lake Helen Mackenzie campground for 1 night.

Lovely.

I highly recommend the Forbidden Plateau.

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

Here’s the official Strathcona Provincial Park website.

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

See our list of the best hikes in North America

trail running the Sunshine Coast Trail

Jeff and Adam ran 115 of the 180km Sunshine Coast Trail in British Columbia over 3 days.

sunshine-coast-map

AT A GLANCE

  • up to 180km (112mi)

  • the Sunshine Coast is less rainy than the rest of the lower mainland, but can still be very wet
  • possible to hike hut to hut without carrying a tent
  • 12 huts built since 2009 – “first-come, first-sleep”
  • Canada’s longest hut to hut hiking trail
  • NO permits or reservation required
  • free
  • it’s considered B.C.’s hidden gem of hiking routes. Many have not yet heard of this adventure.
  • we recommend you carry a tent as a back-up. There are many scenarios which might cause you not to reach the next hut on any given day.  Also #COVID-19

 

Fastpacking the Sunshine Coast Trail: 115 km in 3 Days [VIDEO]

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Strathcona Park BC – Buttle Lake area day hikes

By BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Strathcona Provincial Park,  Vancouver Island, offers many challenging multi-day adventures. And many very challenging day hikes.

In this post, however, I focus on easy highway-accessible day hikes recommended for kids, families, everyone.

I hiked most of these.  All good.

Almost everyone stops for the short walk to the viewing platform at Lady Falls.

  • Elk River Viewpoint
  • Lupin Falls
  • Auger Point
  • Karst Creek
  • Wild Ginger
  • Shepherd Creek

Without question Lower Myra Falls is best of the easy day hikes.  Don’t miss it.   And bring a bathing suit if weather is good.


Auger Point Fire Trail was interesting in seeing how some trees can survive major forest fires.


If you stay at Buttle Lake campground, I loved their Beach Access Trail.

I was cycling this trip, hiding my bike in the trees between each short nature walk.

BestHike editor Rick McCharles

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

See our list of the best hikes in North America

Bedwell Lake trails, Strathcona Park B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

The Bedwell Lakes trails are some of the best in Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island.

We’ve added Bedwell to our list of best hikes in North America.

The up-and-back Bedwell Lake Trail:

      • 10km return
      • 1-3 days
      • 875m elevation gain/loss
      • Bedwell Lake lookout  980m 
      • camping fee at trailhead (CAD $10 / site in 2020)
      • Phillip Stone – Exploring Strathcona Park guidebook
      • no electricity nor mobile phone service. I carried a solar charger.
Bedwell Lake lookout

If adventurous, you could continue to longer routes including:

  • Cream Lake
  • climbing Big Interior mountain
  • continue to Mt Myra
  • continue to Phillips Ridge
  • exit via Flower Ridge
  • exit via Price Creek
  • climbing Mt Tom Taylor

Amazing would be to continue to Bedwell Sound, organizing a water taxi to take you to Tofino.

Good navigation needed on all those options, of course.  They are all more difficult than Bedwell.

If I had proper snow gear I would have continued on to Cream Lake (at least) where you get views of Nine Peaks, Mt Septimus and (possibly) Della Falls, highest in Canada.

I did talk to one couple who were trying to posthole their way to Cream.  And they looked prepared.  It would be easier later in the season.

CAUTION – A hiker died here in 2015, Anders Jason Newman. He slipped and fell from height somewhere above the lakes.


Cycled to the trailhead, walking the last 3km as Jim Mitchell Lake road was steep!

Full Strathcona Park map (PDF)

Started up about 3pm in perfect weather.

Bedwell is possibly the best maintained trail in Strathcona. So steep and (potentially) wet, numerous anti-erosion measures are necessary: wood bridges, metal bridges, boardwalk, etc.

I reached Baby Bedwell lake about 6pm. A gorgeous vista looking over to Mt. Tom Taylor.

Relaxed. Enjoyed dinner from the rocks watching the fading light.

Next morning perfect weather again. No wind.

En route to the big lake are a number of steel ladders and one chain assist. It would be very slippery when wet descending in the rain.

Wow. You arrive well above Bedwell lake with astonishing vistas.

There are tent platforms at both lakes. Personally I prefer those at Baby Bedwell over these at Bedwell.

With good weather, my return back down the same trail seemed easy to me.

What a nice 2-day hike!

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

See our list of the best hikes in North America

Flower Ridge Trails, Strathcona Park B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Experts agree that the Flower Ridge trails are some of the best in Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island.

The up-and-back Flower Ridge Trail:

  • 27km return
  • 1-3 days
  • 1970m elevation gain/loss
  • summit of Central Crags 1642m 
  • no permit needed
  • Phillip Stone – Exploring Strathcona Park guidebook
  • no electricity nor mobile phone service

If adventurous, you could return via other longer routes including:

  • Comox Glacier to Buttle Lake Traverse
  • Ash River Horseshoe
  • Mt. Rosseau to Cream to Bedwell lakes
  • Green lake to Price creek

Good navigation needed on all those options, of course.

I was actually hoping to return via the Henshaw Creek Horseshoe since it returns you to where you started. A perfect loop.

In fact, it’s one of guidebook author Phillip Stone’s favourite hikes in the Park.

But I would have needed a guide and full mountaineering gear to pull that off in June.  Perhaps a helicopter, as well. 😀

I was there early season.


Beautiful morning. Ideal campsite in the Marine Park next to Buttle Lake campground.

It was June 14th. Free. ($10/night/site starting June 15th.)

I enjoyed a leisurely morning.

Next cycled to the trailhead, easy access from gorgeous Buttle Lake Parkway.

It’s close to Ralph River campground.

Full Strathcona Park map (PDF).

Strathcona Park had just opened following the COVID-19 shutdown.

The previous day I’d tried King’s Peak with a light day pack. Didn’t get higher than 770m due to high creeks.

Learning my lesson, for Flower Ridge I brought food for up to 3 days. Full pack.

Started up about 5pm.

Like many Strathcona hikes, Flower Ridge starts with a steep climb. But less steep than most others

Not many views early on. When you do, it’s of the the Myra Falls Mine (opened 1959)

The mine is currently owned by Nyrstar and produces zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold concentrates.

Any time you are hiking a ridge, finding running water might be a problem. But my guidebook said there was one reliable creek — I never found it.

No worries. There is plenty of snow to melt. You dig to find the clean white stuff.

I set up 8:30pm at the first obvious campsite. Days are long in Canada in June.

Normally my dinners are based around instant mashed potatoes. But for this trip I went all in for instant stuffing.

I carried my 1.2 pound solar charger for the first time. Normally it stays with my bikepacking gear.

There’s no electricity in Strathcona. No mobile phone service.

I climbed higher next morning. But quickly the snow got too deep. Just like King’s Peak the previous day, I only reached perhaps 800m elevation before turning back.

The ridge is about 1200m.  In those meadows I would have found more famed spring flowers.

I really need to return to Strathcona late season: August – September.

#LessonLearned

If you want to do it right, click over to MBGuiding:

Flower Ridge Trail – July 13-15, 2018

MBGuiding.ca

 

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

See our list of the best hikes in North America

DON’T hike King’s Peak, Strathcona in June

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

  • 8th highest peak in the Park 2065m
  • 14km round trip
  • elevation gain/loss 1915m
  • no permit required
  • no electricity nor mobile phone service

I’d hoped to hike high like Outside Epic in one day.

Some tricky scrambling.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

That didn’t happen. 😕

I was there June 14, 2020 — far too early in the season.

It started well.  Lovely weather.  Easy access from highway 28 between Strathcona and Gold River.

Second growth forest.  Some big trees.

Quite quickly I was using my hands to scramble tree roots.

I turned back after reaching a raging creek at 770m that looked dangerous to cross.  Snow melt.

My total hike was 4 hours 40 minutes and I didn’t get very high.  Not even to the snow line.

In June I should have planned for at least 2 days.  Brought crampons and ice axe.  Also a rope for creek crossing.

Live and learn.

If you want to hike in a day,  schedule any Strathcona peak climb for August / September.   Less snow, shallower creeks, fewer bugs. 

The ‘trail’ becomes a route above the treeline so navigation required.

Exploring Strathcona Park guidebook by Phil Stone provides 3 main alternate routes to the top.

related – King’s Peak CLIMBING options (PDF)

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

See our list of the best hikes in North America