MILE HIGH News on Mount Washington - Vancouver Island, BC
Explore the "Other End" of Strathcona Park"
With 70,000 local and international visitors each year, the Forbidden Plateau area of Strathcona Provincial Park is undoubtedly the most popular. But the "other" end of Strathcona offers a wealth of gems for hikers and walkers of all abilities.
Strathcona is 250,000 hectares of diverse, yet rugged wilderness slashing through the centre of Vancouver Island. Dominated by mountain peaks, the park also offers visitors alpine meadows laced with rivers, creeks, streams and lakes.
The forests in the valleys and lower regions pre-date the discovery of Vancouver Island by Captain James Cook. Buttle Lake is the dominant body of water in the park; it is also the site of one of the park's more popular campsites (the other is at Ralph River).
Besides Forbidden Plateau, Buttle Lake is the only other place in the park with visitor-oriented developments --the rest of the park is a back-country enthusiast's paradise.
To get to the north end of Strathcona Park, follow Highway 28 through Campbell River to Buttle Lake, right on the highway.
One of the more popular trails to walk in the Buttle Lake area is Elk River -- an 11-kilometre trail that begins right off Hwy. 28 and follows the Elk River for 10 km before turning up to Landslide Lake (a five-hour hike). Marble Meadows, a 6.6-km trail, offers viewpoints, alpine meadows and limestone formations. Start at the Phillips Creek Marine Campsite on Buttle Lake (six-hour hike). Upper Myra Falls is a 3-km trail that starts just past the Westmin mine operation and follows a gravel road for 700m before turning into a forested trail (two-hour hike). To access Myra Falls, start near the south end of Buttle Lake and take the 1-km trail down to the falls. Although this is a short, 25-minute hike, use caution while at the falls.
NEW CAMPING FEES FOR STRATHCONA PARK
Strathcona Park now has overnight camping fees in the Forbidden Plateau area. There is now a charge of $5.00 per person/night over 16 years of age. Camping in the core area of the Plateau is restricted to designated sites at Lake Helen Mackenzie, Kwai Lake and Circlet Lake. There will be no charge at this time for overnight stays in random sites outside of the core area (see shaded area on map). There is no camping fee at those camping east of Panther Lake. There are fee stations for self registration at the entrances to the main trails. Please retain your registration receipts for our Park Facility Operators and Park Staff who will be monitoring the area.
Strathcona Park, Forbidden Plateau area, has proven itself to be an all-season recreational destination. The plateau is one of the most popular parts of the 250,445 ha. Strathcona Park. The plateau is the only sub-alpine/alpine area on Vancouver Island easily accessed by the general public.
During the winter, Forbidden Plateau is transformed into a cross-country skiers' paradise, and during the summer the area attracts visitors interested in numerous outdoor recreational activities.
Visitors often hike the day use trails to view the flora and fauna that are unique to the alpine regions of Vancouver Island. The distinct and fragile ecosystem, which attracts visitors all year round is at risk.
The StrathconaWilderness Institute (SWI), will be providing guided tours of Paradise Meadows this summer. Jennifer Williams will host tours every Saturday from June 30th to Sept. 3rd. Those interested are requested to be at the Paradise Meadows trailhead at 10 am on Saturday mornings prepared for a 1 1/2 hour tour through the meadows. No sign-up is required but be sure to dress for the ever-changing mountain weather conditions! Bring your binoculars and Guide Books too!
The SWI is also looking for interested interpreters to guide hikes on Sunday afternoons. For those of you wanting to share your knowledge and passion for the diverse flora, fauna and natural history of the Forbidden Plateau, please contact the SWI at 250-337-1871.
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