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

 

BigBlue 28W USB Solar Charger

My first solar power charger.  No built-in lithium ion battery.

I chose BigBlue 28W USB Solar Charger over similar products based on the positive Wirecutter review. AND this one is quite inexpensive.

I plan to use it mostly for bikepacking where weight is less a concern. But I carried it on a few hikes as well.

1.2 pounds.

Flower Ridge Trail, Strathcona
Baby Bedwell Lake, Strathcona

On the bike, it can get bumpy.

Mostly I’m wanting to keep charged:

    • iPhone
    • EarPods
    • Apple Watch

It works well in direct sunlight.  Slowly when overcast.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

 

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)

 

6 Great Places to Hike in Europe

Guest post by Nem, editor at TheGearHunt.com.

Packed with hidden gems, the Old Continent is a real treat for avid hikers! Europe is the home to some of the most amazing hikes on the planet. From historical sights to natural scenery, there is something for every hiker out there. 

If you are on the lookout for new exciting treks, make sure not to miss the six hiking areas listed below!

Caucasus Mountains, Georgia: Breath-taking Trails Few Have Explored

Georgia and the Caucasus mountains are full of hidden treasures, and what’s even more exciting is that few others have been wondering these stunning places. The country is opening up to the world lately after a period of instability.

While traversing the trails, you will enjoy passing through medieval towns and villages, spotting wildlife like deer, marmot, and chamois, viewing turquoise, white, and green lakes, while surrounded by scenic peaks. 

Mestia to Ushguli is one of the best trails this country has to offer. This accessible trek connects a remote mountain village of Ushguli with Mestia, the center of the Svaneti region while offering amazing natural and historical sights.

Caucasus Mountains, Telavi, Georgia

Westweg Trail, Germany: A Magical Hiking Experience

Avid hikers from all over the world are rushing to explore the ancient Black Forest. Westweg trail, the oldest and most famous long-distance hiking trail in Germany, provides a magical experience. 

Green meadows, ancient forests, quiet mountain lakes, glacial valleys, panoramic rock crests, and mountains make this trail so unique. 

Leading through quiet forests and over lonely plateaus, Westweg is ideal for more experienced hikers.

Before hitting the outdoors and exploring the trails, it is always advisable to learn to signal SOS and other necessary survival skills, as you may find yourself in an emergency. You’ll feel more confident, and if you are in a sticky situation, you will know exactly what to do to stay safe.

Dolomites High Route Alta Via 1: Beautiful Nature Tour of Northeastern Italy

With their unique geology and stunning rock formations, The Dolomites are trekkers’ paradise. While exploring the Alta Via 1 trail, you will see incredibly beautiful surroundings, from spiky peaks, lush forests, vast pastel meadows, to pristine alpine lakes, limestone cliffs, and even old battle sites from World War I!

You can explore steep rocky hillsides and tunnels, like famous Galleria Lagazuoi, or visit the Ladin shepherds in their villages. 

With so much diversity, it is no wonder this entire picturesque area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And as a bonus, when you get tired or need refreshment, there are rifugios with home-cooked meals and a clean bed

Dolomites, Obereggen, Italy

Tara Mountain, Serbia: One of the Best Kept Secrets in the Balkans

If going off the beaten path excites you, then Carpathian trails are the perfect fit. Located in Western Serbia, Tara Mountain offers incredible landscapes, especially the popular Zaovine triptych route. 

Diverse topographical makeup of Dinarides with striking and deep gorges between mountain peaks makes this region particularly exquisite. Drina Gorge is one of the most beautiful ones, offering views of western Serbia and nearby Bosnia. 

One of the five official lookouts, Banjska Stena, provides spectacular views of the Drina canyon, Lake Perućac, and mountain ranges. The mountain’s slopes are covered with dense forests and numerous meadows with cliffs and limestone caves. 

Tara Mountain, Serbia

Alpe Adria Trail Spanning Through Austria, Slovenia, and Italy: Hiking in the Garden of Eden

The entire Alpe Adria trail usually takes over a month to hike, since it is a 466 miles long, 43-stage trail. Ever walked through the Garden of Eden? Well, here’s your chance. 

A route from Carinthia’s mountain lakes to the Dolomites Mountains has been described just like that. The trail runs through non-alpine terrain most of the time, and the landscape is sure to capture your heart. 

You will experience the Southern Alps’ beauty while enjoying views of sheer cliffs and vertical walls of Friuli-Venezia Giulia’portion of the Dolomites, charming villages, and breathtaking waterfalls. 

Lousios Gorge Monasteries Hike in Greece: Peloponnese Peninsula Hike Into Untouched Nature

If you are looking for seldom traveled routes, start your adventure in Karytaina, and continue north to Dimitsana. Babbling streams, an abundance of wildflowers, and meadows with olive groves and cypress trees will sweep you off your feet.

The unpaved trail will get you to stunning mountaintop monasteries while walking parallel to the rushing Lousios River. The impressive and well preserved Prodromou monastery built on the cliffs of the gorge is not far from the church of Saint Athanasios. 

When you get to the church, a panoramic view of the spectacular gorge and the Byzantine monasteries of Philosophou (the oldest monastery in Arcadia) emerges. 

Whichever trail you choose to take, there is a fantastic adventure waiting for you! Pack your backpack, and off you go to explore the best hiking treks in Europe!

 

Pileated woodpecker, Vancouver Island

The pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is native to North America.

The term “pileated” refers to the bird’s prominent red crest, with the term from the Latin pileatus meaning “capped”.

These birds mainly eat insects, especially carpenter ants and wood-boring beetle larvae.

A pileated woodpecker pair stays together on its territory all year round and is not migratory.

The are often brazenly tolerant of people.

Click PLAY or watch one brazenly ignoring me on YouTube.

 

Mt Robson – Berg Lake & Snowbird Pass

Our friends at travel2walk post some of the best trip report online.

August 2019 they hiked the classic at Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Colombia – Berg Lake & Snowbird Pass.

Mount Robson is the highest point in the Canadian Rockies 12972 ft (3954 m).

One highlight is Emperor Falls.

This part of the Canadian Rockies is wild and challenging. Yet the excellent Park infrastructure make it accessible to all.

trip report: Mount Robson Provincial Park – Berg Lake & Snowbird Pass, August 2019

Meet hiker Kraig Adams

I’m following everything Kraig does.

His YouTube channel. His podcast.

Though young and fairly new to hiking, Kraig impresses me most with his videos.

His hike in Iceland last year, for example, has over 3.3 million views on YouTube.

Stark. Quiet. Elegant simplicity.

Instead of famed Laugavegur, he hiked remote Hornstrandir solo instead.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

One of his personal favourite hikes was Picos De Europa in Northern Spain.

I agree enjoy it immensely in 2009.  And got lost, as did Kraig.

Kraig had planned to do the PCT in 2020.  That was cancelled due to COVID-19.  Like many of us he’s coming up with alternative adventures legal and ethical.

Read a recent interview on hiiker.

 

Timberline Trail – around Mt Hood

Jon posted a detailed trip report on their August 2019 circuit of Oregon’s highest peak. It’s close to Portland.

This report is all you need to organize that adventure for yourself. 

Plenty of climbs and descents. Quite a few creeks crossings. Not what we’d call an easy week.

They started and ended at Timberline Lodge. And hiked clockwise.

The report includes excellent photos so you really get a feel for what to expect.

Mount Hood (photo credit: Dan Nevill, CC 2.0)
Ramona Falls (photo credit: Dan Nevill, CC 2.0)

Check it out:

TIMBERLINE TRAIL – MOUNT HOOD WILDERNESS, OR (40 MILE LOOP)

Similar adventures in the Pacific N.W. include the Wonderland Trail around Mt Ranier and / or a partial circuit around nearby Mt Adams.

Juan de Fuca Trail, Canada

The West Coast Trail is the best hike in the world. Right?

But we recommend neighbouring Juan de Fuca Marine Trail precisely because it is not the WCT. 🙂

It was closed until June 1, 2020 due to COVID-19.  But is NOW OPEN.

Note: The West Coast Trail may stay closed though the 2020 season. 

AT A GLANCE

  • it’s the West Coast Trail ‘alternative’ that does not cost money nor require a permit
  • coastal hike of 47km (29mi) sharing one of the WCT trailheads – Port Renfrew
  • no reservations needed
  • no quota on number of hikers
  • plenty of bears

Click PLAY or watch an August 2012 hike on YouTube. (2min)

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.  Aug. 2016. Great weather.

Check out out our Juan de Fuca information page.