Blessed as it is with a wealth of scenic and recreational opportunities Vancouver Island offers a wide range of potential destinations for travellers from across the globe. Now that spring has really kicked into gear one of the most sought after locales for wilderness lovers is Strathcona Provincial Park.
The oldest provincial park in the province and the largest on Vancouver Island, Strathcona Provincial Park encompasses more than 250,000 hectares of wilderness, dominating much of the central portion of the Island. Initially created in 1911, the park is roughly triangular in shape and essentially spans the entire width of the Island – from Herbert Inlet off of Clayoquot Sound on the west coast, to within 13 kilometers of the Georgia Strait on the east coast near Comox.
Dominated by dense forest and some of the Island’s tallest mountains, the park is home to such spectacular natural wonders as Della Falls, the highest waterfall in Canada with a drop of more than 440 metres in three interlinked cascades. Towering eight times higher than Niagara Falls (and among the 10 highest falls in the world), viewing the Della Falls can only be achieved via a strenuous hike, but for those who have made the trek the sight of such a unique splendor is considered well worth the effort.
The eternal icefield of Forbidden Plateau is another of the Park’s most memorable natural treasures. Dotted with small lakes (tempting summer anglers with their stock of rainbow trout) the Plateau is a pristine example of subalpine terrain, ideal for hikers, nature photographers or anyone who loves the beauty of the outdoors.
Near the center of the Park is the mountain known as The Golden Hinde, the highest peak on Vancouver Island, standing more than 2,200 metres high. Located just west of Buttle Lake, The Golden Hinde is the source of the Wolf River, a meandering water course that snakes its way through the Park’s dense forestland.
The Park is home to a wide variety of forest and plant life, including Douglas-fir, western red cedar, grand fir, amabilis fir and western hemlock. During the summer the park is known for its spectacular floral displays, including such flowering plant species as heather, lupine, Indian paintbrush, phlox, moss campion, monkey flowers and even violets. A diverse range of wildlife also call the park home such as wolves, cougars, Roosevelt elk, black-tail deer and the iconic Vancouver Island marmot.
While a certain amount of visitor themed development has occurred within the Park’s boundaries (such as an extensive network of trails), on the whole the region is undeveloped so much of it is ideally suitable for experienced hikers or those with a real love for untouched wilderness.
Strathcona Provincial Park is open all year round, providing camping facilities at Buttle Lake and Ralph River, as well as five marine backcountry camping areas, on Buttle Lake and Upper Campbell Lake. An extensive system of hiking trails, two boat launching ramps on Buttle Lake, picnic grounds and an adventure playground are also provided for family-focussed adventures.
The park can be reached in a number of different ways, but its main headquarters and campgrounds are reached via Highway 28, about 28 miles west of Campbell River. Why not plan an outdoor adventure of your own this year and pay Strathcona Provincial Park a visit – you‘re certain to come away with some spectacular memories.