What Makes Strathcona Park Amazing? 8 Intriguing Facts

Strathcona Park

Strathcona park is one of the great places where a lot of things can be done. It is always peaceful and serene to be visiting a park with plenty of things to do and explore.

Fresh air, beautiful views, waterfalls, and stillness is the way to go away from the busy life. The Strathcona park was named after Donald Alexander Smith who was a Mount Royal and the 1st Baron Strathcona, a railway pioneer, and a wealthy philanthropist. This park was founded in the year 1911.

Strathcona Park is the largest park on Vancouver Island and the oldest provincial park of British Columbia, Canada. The park is divided into two parts when explored. The first part is the Forbidden Plateau which is located adjacent to the Mount Washington Alpine Resort. The other part is the Buttle Lake campground which is reached via the Campbell River.

This park is known to have some highest mountain slopes on Vancouver Island. The beautiful mountains surrounding the park are a must to be witnessed. The location of the park is 9 km from the eastern side of the Gold River and 25 km from the western side of the Campbell River.

1. 8 Amazing Facts About Strathcona Park

There are some great places and activities that the Strathcona provincial park offers to its visitors.


1.1. Forbidden Plateau Area

The forbidden plateau area of Strathcona Park is reached by the trailhead of the paradise meadows. This part of the area goes straight up to the Alpine resort. There is a well-developed parking area leading to the place.

There is a wilderness centre that provides the facility for wheelchair visits. This centre provides a lot of information about Strathcona Park as well as other BC parks.

This plateau area has a lot of hiking trails to be enjoyed and showcased the beauty of the place:

  • Paradise Meadows trailhead: This loop trail is 2.2km and has gravelled pathway and boardwalk as well. The whole trail has the accessibility of a wheelchair.
  • Helen MacKenzie-Battleship Lake Trail: This loop trail is 8km and is almost 3 hours. This trail is an easy hiking place with quite a well-developed pathway. The area is surrounded by views of beautiful mountains. The loop trail is a mixture of forest areas and alpine meadows.
  • Helen MacKenzie to Circlet Lake: This trail is 9.5 km long and is to be covered in around 5 hours. Lake Helen MacKenzie is the start of the trail. The pathway is covered with forest slopes over rugged terrain. The trail then rises to an area of sub-alpines. There is a Circlet lake campsites facility which has a camping fee to it.
  • Helen MacKenzie-Kwai Lake-Croteau Lake Trail: This loop trail is around 14 km long. This hiking trail is covered with spectacular mountain peaks and alpine lakes. There are campsites available at Kwai lake and camping fees are charged.

1.1.1 Backcountry Camping Sites

There are many backcountry camping sites which are located at different sites along these hike trails to be enjoyed by the people.

The backcountry camping sites are:

  • Kwai Lake
  • Circlet Lake
  • Helen Mackenzie Lake
  • Elk River Trail
  • Cream Lake trail/Bedwell lake
  • Della falls trail

There are tent pads, pit toilets, and food supplies. The backcountry area of Strathcona Park does not permit any fire so the people are required to carry their portable stoves.

A backcountry camping registration system facility is available to pre-pay the fees but that is not a reservation.

1.2. Buttle Lake

Buttle Lake is the other part of the beautiful Strathcona Park. The major attraction of the lake is camping. There are other activities at Buttle Lake is a hiking, short walks in the park, and various trails to be explored.

1.2.1 Campgrounds of Buttle Lake

It has two camping grounds that are accessible by a vehicle that is buttle lake campground and the Ralph river campground. Both these camping sites are remote and private as per the location.

The buttle lake campground is located closer to the Campbell River and occupies the larger part of the lake. While the Ralph river campgrounds are located at the end of buttle lake on the southern side. The campgrounds have rugged wilderness areas and serene views to spend your day.

The amenities offered at these campgrounds are water pumps and pit toilets. The majority of the campgrounds are available on the spot.

The information regarding the reservation of these campsites is available on the website of the Strathcona provincial park.

There are many things that can be done at Buttle lake like:

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Water skiing
  • Windsurfing
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing for Rainbow Trout and Cutthroat

1.2.2. Short Walks at the Buttle Lake

The side of Buttle Lake at Strathcona Park is a great place to have some short walks and spend some quality time together.

  • Shepard Creek: This is a 1.5 km stretch to be covered in around 45 minutes. This loop is a blend of forest areas and swampy pathways to walk the trail.
  • Wild Ginger: As the name suggests this trail walk is like visiting an old-growth forest with wild ginger patches all around. This trail walk is around 15 minutes.
  • Auger Point: This trail is a 5-minute short walk pathway that is also witnessed like old growth forest that was once destroyed by the forest fire.
  • Elk River Viewpoint: This is a 10-minute walking trail that has views of the Elk River valley all around and the habitat of Roosevelt elk habitat.

1.2.3. Long Walks at the Buttle Lake

There are some great hiking areas for long walks at Strathcona Park.

  • Flower Ridge: It is a 6 km long hike with a steep and rugged pathway. The area is surrounded by beautiful alpine flowers which grow almost every season. The trail goes along the alpine ridge and water can be a scarcity in this area.
  • Crest Mountain: The crest mountain is a long uphill trek of 5 km. This trail has some amazing views of the beautiful birds of the region.
  • Philips Ridge: It is a 6 km long hike leading to Arnica Lake. It has an elevation change of around 800 meters. A backcountry camping area is present at the northern end of Arnica lake. From this camping site, one can head directly to Philips mountain.
  • Bedwell lake: This trail is also a 6 km long hike that has a very well-constructed pathway with bridges, creeks, and stairs. There is also a backcountry camping site available around this lake area. The trail of the cream lake and bedwell lake also goes from here. There are fees for these campsites.

1.2.4. Trails of the Buttle Lake

Strathcona park is famous for its trails suitable for hiking. Visitors are majorly attracted to this activity. Some popular trails in the park are not to be missed.

These are easily accessible by the main road and by well-maintained pathways within Strathcona park. There are some beautiful waterfall trails in the Park found in the buttle Lake area.

  • Lupin Falls: Lupin Falls is a long trail of around 15 to 20 minutes which is well-maintained and has some amazing scenic views.
  • Lady Falls: This is also one of the most spectacular locations. It is a one-way 900-meter pathway to be covered in around 15 minutes.
  • Karst Creek: This is a round-trip trail of around 2 km where there are sinkholes and limestones. There is also a waterfall that disappears.
  • Lower Myra Falls: It is a 15-minute walk through a series of falls that are interconnected with each other. The pathway has a steep downside with a multitude of colours and visions from the falls.
  • Upper Myra Falls: It is a 6 km long trail all round trip that gives the views of old forests. There is also a downpour of crystal-clear water coming from the creeks.

1.3. Della Falls

This is one of the tallest falls in Canada which is around 444 meters/1456 feet. The falls are located closer to Port Alberni. It takes around 15 km to reach the base area of the falls. And there is another 3 km further for some amazing views.

The top of the falls can only be reached by means of transportation by water boating, canoeing, and kayaking). It is a 33 km long trek from one part of the Grand central lake to the other.

A total of three days are needed to explore Della Falls. It almost takes around 7 hours each way for hikers to cover 15 km.

There is also an Ark resort 20 minutes away from where you can rest and relax. A boat ride is available to reach the Della Falls trail. It takes 6 days if going by canoe and half the days if using a powerboat.

It is counted among the top 10 highest falls in the world and it is 8 times higher than Niagara Falls.

1.4. Myra Falls Mine

Myra Falls is the only mine which is located in a provincial park in British Columbia. This is an active mine that visitors can drive and see within the boundaries of the park. A person has to drive through the mine to reach the trail of Upper Myra Falls.

This mining operation started in the year 1966 in an open pit. All the mining activities carried out in the park fall under a permit because of being in the park. All the safety concerns for the public and environment are taken for carrying out the mining activities within the park.

The Boliden-Westmin Resources Ltd. mining operation of Myra Falls produces copper and zinc ores in major quantities. Some precious stones like gold and silver are also extracted.

1.5. Comox Valley

The trail of Comox Valley is a rough and steep slope. This valley follows the alpine route. This hiking trail is for well-trained mountaineers. It is a total of 3 days of a 9 km of hiking trail. A day is needed for a 1.5 km trail along the ridge to see the frog pond which is a camping site. Another day is spent seeing the glacier and going back to the camp.

The trail is quite rocking and it needs essentials like maps, a compass, ropes, a backpack, and a stove. The area doesn’t have well-maintained roads and four wheeler vehicle is a must. The weather conditions should be checked before visiting the place.

1.6. General Areas of Strathcona Park

There are a few other areas of the park that needs to be explored.

1.6.1. Campbell River

Campbell river
Image by Terry Kluytmans from Pixabay

Campbell River is a very well-known fishing spot in Canada. It is the first-ever saltwater fishing spot which is located on the waterfront of downtown near the government wharf. Campbell River is also named the Salmon capital of the world.

It is a great place for people who love adventures and are up for some sport fishing.

1.6.2. Elk Falls

The Elk Falls over the Campbell River is a great place to enjoy the scenic beauty of the waterfall. A suspension bridge is also formed over the Elk River built in 2015. This bridge when newly built had become a tourist attraction at this site.

The distance of the elk falls is only 3 km from the main park. The place is considered the best camping accommodation on Vancouver Island.

There is also a 6 km trail existing in the park and has an old Douglas fir which is presented in the northern provincial park of Strathcona Park.

1.6.3. Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Mount Alpine Resort is another great place on Vancouver Island to do some fun activities. The operation of this resort is dependent on the seasons.

In the summer times, the alpine resort offers a lot of activities to do. There is hiking on the alpine, bike rides on the mountains, chair lifting zip lining, golf activities like disc golf and mini golf, and bungee jumping on the trampoline.

The resort has some great options in food like the Fresh Market cafe and Ted’s Bar and grill which are just open during the summer months.

During the spring season in June or the fall months, the availability of the resort needs to be checked. Due to the season and the weather conditions the operational hours may differ.

1.6.4. Strathcona Park Lodge

The Strathcona park lodge is a part of the provincial park and was founded in 1959. The lodge has an outdoor education centre where various apprenticeship programs are being carried out.

The education centre started with training in leadership and outdoor education in 1977. This same course is considered the top Canadian outdoor education program which is also called the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training Semester Program (COLT).

There are even two restaurants and an accommodation facility with plenty of activities to enjoy. There are some daily activities offered at the lodge according to the days of the week.

The other facilities that are available at the Strathcona park lodge are the Basketball courts, Volleyball courts, and foosball table. There is a swimming area, a floating pier, and a delightful waterfall.

The lodge also offers Sauna facilities to its guests. There is a wood-fired sauna scintillating with cedar wood giving an ultimate experience to its guests. There is also a water bath in the cold lake water between the sessions to feel the fresh water of the lake. The Sauna is a wonderful way to treat yourself and to have a great experience of the west coast.

Image by NoName_13 from Pixabay Copyright 2018

1.7. Some Fun Activities to Do in Strathcona Park

1.7.1. Backcountry Skiing

Boarding activities and backcountry skiing activities are available at the Mount Washington Alpine Resort. The area holds the record for the highest snowfall for skiing in the whole of North America.

The boards and ski rentals are all available at the shops located on Mount Washington, Campbell River, and Comox Valley.

1.7.2 Cross-country Skiing

This is a very popular activity carried out in winter in the Paradise meadows. The majority of the Nordic trails of Mount Washington are set up for the activity of skiing.

The ski rentals for the activity are all available at the nearby outlets in the valley.

1.7.3. Fishing

The Strathcona Park is famous for fishing activities be it for leisure or sports. Fishing activity is available from Buttle Lake to Battleship Lake.

There is information available about the fish and the lakes on the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. The people visiting the place should have a freshwater fishing license and should be well aware of the fishing regulations of the concerned lake.

1.7.4. Hiking

Hiking is the most popular and major tourist attraction of the park. The masses visit the park only for this adventure activity to this park in BC.

There are a lot of well-maintained trails for hiking in the park which a visitor can choose from. There are trails for all levels of hikers from basic to advanced.

The hiking trails are:

  • Trail of Della Falls
  • Trail of Elk River
  • Trail of Bedwell Lake
  • Trail of Kwai Loop
  • Nature Walk in Lupin Falls
  • Trail of Landslide Lake
  • Trail of Sawdust
  • Loop of Paradise Meadows
  • Trail of Mount Albert Edward

Many of these trails are almost covered with snow till the months of October and November. So, it is advised to check and be well-equipped according to the season.

1.7.5. Paddling

The paddle board activity or kayaking is a popular activity being carried out in the region of Buttle Lake. The visitors can bring their own or are available on rent at the nearby outlets.

It is advised for the visitors to do the paddling activity in the morning as the weather gets quite windy in the afternoon. It is best to do the activity as near to the shore as possible for safety reasons.

1.7.6. Snowshoeing

It is also a popular adventure carried out in the snow-cover season in the Paradise meadows. Mount Washington is the area for snowshoeing.

The place sets the trail for the activity according to the skills and expertise levels. The required things are available for rent in the nearby outlets.

1.7.7. Wildlife Viewing

Strathcona Park is a great place where we get the opportunity for some Wildlife viewing as well.

The most common wildlife animals that we get to see in the park are Black bears, Deer, Bald eagles, Roosevelt elks, Trumpeter Swans, Whiskey Jacks, and sometimes Cougars. The Vancouver Island wolf and marmot are also wildlife creatures quite frequently seen.

There is a variety of birds that are also seen in the park like Blue Grouse, Red-breasted nuthatch, Canada jay, Stellar’s jay, Ruffed grouse, Chestnut-backed chickadee, White-tailed ptarmigan, Winter Wren and Kinglet.

Vancouver Island witnesses upcoming migratory birds all around the season.

The visitors are advised to be careful around the animals and watch them from a distance.

1.7.8. Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is another great activity to be happening in Strathcona provincial park. Rock climbing is done in the areas like Elkhorn, Crest Creek crags, Colonel Foster, and Colonel Hinde.

150 climbing routes are existing in the Crest Creek crags region alone. The highest peak of the island is 2,200 meters challenging the rock climbers. The park is reached by Highway 28.

1.7.9. Whale Watching

Whale watching is a spellbound experience to be witnessed on Vancouver Island. There is a variety of whales seen in pods in the sea.

The variety of whales that are seen is Orcas (Killer Whales), Minke Whales, and Humpback Whales which just swim around in the waters and perform their daily activities.

There are even tours operating for whale watching around the coast. They operate around the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, and the west coast of Vancouver Island around Tofino and Ucluelet. They cover the regions of Victoria covering Port Hardy and the Campbell River. The Discovery Islands and the Gulf Islands of British Columbia are covered.

In the waters of Vancouver Island, some other aquatic animals are seen like Harbour porpoises, Harbour seals, Dall’s porpoises, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Minke Whales, and sea lions.

The islands also witness the return of the fish Salmon to the sea for laying off their roe. This phenomenon is called salmon spawning.

1.7.10. Swimming

Swimming is another activity that is permitted in Strathcona Park. The areas of Buttle Lake and the campgrounds at drift bay allow it. Specific areas are marked in the lake which is only designated for swimming. All the lakes permit the activity of swimming except for Kwai Lake.

1.8. Nearby Attractions to the Vancouver Island

  • There are some nearby towns and areas near Strathcona Park that can be visited like Gold River, Campbell River, Gold river highway 28, and Port Alberni.
  • There is a rich culture and heritage associated with Vancouver in BC. Some amazing historical sites can be visited are Hatley Park, Helmcken House, Haig-Brown House, Point Ellice House, Chinatown Victoria, Fort Rodd Hill, Emily Carr House, Craigdarroch castle, Craigflower manor, Fisgard lighthouse, Quw’utsun cultural centre.
  • some famous places can be visited on the island like the Pacific Rim, Victoria, Tofino, The Empress Hotel, Strathcona Park, Royal BC Museum, Saltspring Island, Butchart Gardens, Cathedral grooves, Hatley Castle or Park, Government House, Carmanah Walbran Park.
  • Some nearby water bodies to the island that can be visited are the Discovery Coast, Discovery Island, and Southern Gulf islands.
  • There are a plethora of provincial parks near the island depending upon the direction of the island.

Vancouver Island is one of the lively destinations for a vacation. The rich culture, beaches, parks, sights, festivals, and beauty is a sight to behold and explore.

Strathcona Park is a great place to enjoy nature and beauty at the same time. The remote wilderness surroundings and adventures of the place are a great combination for any visitor.

The provincial park is a great place to enjoy activities be it hiking or skiing. glacier and mine visits. The provincial park is a gateway to peace for people who are out to enjoy away from the busy schedules of their lives. The park is one of the great places to be explored and cherished on Vancouver Island in BC.

As the park is located on central Vancouver Island and the nearby areas of Comox Valley and Campbell River are the main points of the park entrance. The park is a blend of all spectacular views be it snow-covered mountain ranges, river valleys, waterfalls, lakes, alpine tarns, streams, creeks, and a variety of hiking trails.

When visiting British Columbia, Strathcona Park is a must-visit to the place. Spending time in the beauty of nature is an enjoyment of its own. It is a great place to be visited with friends and family.

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