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

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
Bedwell Lake lookout

If adventurous, you could continue to longer routes including:

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

Best 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.

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 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!

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

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

 

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

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 by Phil Stone provides 3 main alternate routes to the top.

related – King’s Peak CLIMBING options (PDF)

 

Alberni Inlet Trail, Vancouver Island

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Stage 1 – Port Alberni to China Creek

  • 15 kms one way (I stopped at 13 kms)
  • 6 hours (I took 4 hrs)
  • elevation gain 3937 ft
  • Ship Creek Road trailhead to China Creek trailhead
  • panorama of the city of Port Alberni
  • route options: Follinsbee Creek (easier) or Lookout and the old Copper Mountain Trail (harder)
  • moderate difficulty
  • plenty of ups and downs
  • some fallen logs to scramble

My Dad dropped me at the Port Alberni visitor centre. This was the start of my Pacific N.W. BikePacking tour.

For my first hike, I used the paid version of the AllTrails app. And I needed AllTrails as parts of the trail close to China Creek are overgrown and difficult to find.

Even better is the Relive app. Click PLAY or relive my hike on YouTube.

It was tougher than I expected with non-stop up and downs.

There are many bears in the area. This was the only sign I saw.

In fact, the only animal life of interest was the first Garter Snake I’ve seen this season.

Wild flowers lovely.

This trail is maintained. But the section closer to Port Alberni is in far better shape.

At times you have to rely on flagging tape to find the trail.

One highlight is a vista of Port Alberni from on high.

The coastal section is cool. Boom.

All in all, I’d recommend the Alberni Inlet trail.

Ventisquero Colgante hike, Chile

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

  • 6.6km return to observation platform
  • rough and muddy trail

Queulat National Park is a very popular destination for tourists. Here’s how the park’s centerpiece, the Queulat Hanging Glacier, looks in perfect weather.

Ventisquero Colgante Falls in summer, ChileVentisquero Colgante Falls in summer , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

There’s a visitor centre explaining the various short hikes.

You start on a long suspension bridge.

I was there on a rainy day. Most days are rainy.

This is dense Valdivian temperate rain forest. Parts of the park receive up to 4,000 mm (157 in) of precipitation annually.

There is some boardwalk, but expect to get muddy. (I wore neoprene booties rather than socks.)

Here’s the viewpoint as I saw it.

On descending I’d definitely recommend adding a short spur trail to Laguna Tempanos.

It’s a different perspective from the lake.

Everyone is happy to visit Quelat. A weird and wonderful microclimate.

I wore neoprene booties instead of socks. Inside my feet were warm, wet and smelly.

Queulat National Park is is 23-kilometers away from pretty Puyuhuapi town, the normal jumping off point for travelers.

related – Ventisquero Colgante: The Hanging Glacier of Queulat

Darwin’s Frog trail, Pumalín, Chile

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Distance: 2,5 km. loop

Difficulty: easy

Darwin’s frog is native to the forest streams of Chile and Argentina.

The most striking feature of this frog is the tadpoles’ development inside the vocal sac of the male.

Sadly it’s endangered in 2019 due to habitat loss and amphibian disease.

It’s tiny. You’d never be able to find one in this park. Or anywhere.

Darwin’s Frog relies on camaflague and tricks.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

This hike is an interpretive trail showing the damage done to the temperate rain forest by farming. AND how Pumalín is allowing nature to return it to rain forest.

At the information kiosk at the park gates you can sign out waterproof cards explaining each species, guiding you through the circuit.

If you get anywhere near El Amarillo, Patagonia, be sure to do this short walk. There are other longer hikes nearby in Pumalín, as well.

Pumalín, Chile – Caleta Gonzalo Cascada trail

trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles

Hike to a spectacular waterfall.

Duration: 3 hours round trip.
Distance: 5,6 km round trip.
Return: Same route.
Difficulty: Low-Medium.

Parque Pumalín

This hike is very challenging. Calling it Low-Medium is insanity. 🙄

There are many sections where you need to use your hands. Scrambles.

The river crossing could be dangerous / impossible at high water. I slipped in with both feet while boulder hopping.

You can quickly see why this temperate rain forest was so inaccessible before superb trail builders got here.

There was a ton of work done to put in this trail. Plenty of boardwalk, most made from local wood onsite.

Check this natural park bench.

The crux of the hike are these two ladders.

Made it. This is what I expected at Pumalín.

For me it was 3 hours round trip. Finishing at 8pm I had only about 2 hours of daylight left to get set-up at the nearby campground and to cook up a BIG dinner.

Cascada was my first hike in this sector of Parque Pumalín.

best hike Chiloe Island, Chile

Sendero Transversal is by far the best hike in remote Chiloe.

I cycled in to the Lake Chaiguata trailhead staying only 1 night and did some day hiking. 

It’s a unique and impressive Park. Very well organized.

Tantauco Park (Spanish: Parque Tantauco) is a 1,180 km2 (456 sq mi) private natural reserve on the south end of Chiloé Island in Chile.

The park was created by Chilean business magnate and President of Chile Sebastián Piñera in 2005 …

The park is open to the public with two campgrounds and a 150 km (93 mi) network of hiking trails. …

Tantauco Park is an attractive ecotourist destination due to the remarkable biodiversity of its nearly untouched Valdivian temperate rainforest and the rather easy public access. Precipitations in the area average about 2,500 mm (98 in) annually. …

Details on the Sendero Transversal.

  • 4 – 8 days
  • hike only 1 direction (counterclockwise)
  • download the map
  • start Lake Chaiguata, finish Inío
  • hut to hut
  • maximum 8 hikers / day
  • exit by floatplane or boat
  • peat bogs, Tepu forests, Cypress trees
  • plenty of boardwalk
  • trails well maintained, but you’ll be getting wet
  • only about 7000 people / year visit this Park
  • there are a couple of other multi-night options

Click PLAY or watch on trip on YouTube.

related:

Home page – parquetantauco.cl (Spanish)

WikiTravel – Parque Tantauco

Wikipedia – Tantauco Park