Part Two: Wilderness Hiking On Vancouver Island

Picking up where we left off in our previous blog post, we will continue our admittedly brief look at some of the most popular hiking trails found on Vancouver Island.

Strathcona Park Trails: Located north of the City of Campbell River, Strathcona Provincial Park offers hiking opportunities to fill a library of adventure books – not a single blog entry. Hikers of all levels of experience will find something within this sprawling 2,500 square kilometer expanse of pristine Island wilderness. The oldest provincial park in BC, some of Strathcona’s better known trails include:

dellaThe Della Falls Trail which begins near Port Alberni takes adventurers from the head of Great Central Lake (the Island’s largest) to the base of Della Falls, at 440 meters high, the highest waterfall in Canada. A challenging 16 kilometer trail is a long and rugged hike taking about 7 hours one way, and suitable for intermediate level hikers.

In contrast the Bedwell Lake Trail was designed for less experienced hikers and is a day hike covering about six kilometers. Developed by BC Parks the trail provides a change for hikers to enjoy the Park’s beautiful alpine and subalpine areas. Steel stairways installed by the Park staff may offend serious hikers, but are appreciated by the less adventurous.

Another of Strathcona’s more accessible routes is the Lupin Falls Nature Walk. A gentle hike through classic Vancouver Island forest lands, the route leads hikers to Lupin Falls, an impressive little waterfall that encourages rest and contemplation of the peaceful surroundings. On the lake side there are some picnic tables and walking access to the beach. The Lupin Falls Nature Walk trailhead is on Westmin Road, about 8 kilometers south of Buttle Lake bridge on Highway 28 to the town of Campbell River.

Ripple Rock Trail: Another hiking destination found near Campbell River, the Ripple Rock Trail overlooks the spot where in 1958 Ripple Rock, a twin topped mountain just below the ocean surface of Seymour Narrows, was blasted away in what was at the time the largest non-nuclear explosion in history. A well marked interpretive trail skirts stony benches to a viewpoint above the chokepoint of Vancouver Island’s inside passage just north of Campbell River. The Ripple Rock story add character and history to the enjoyment of this light and pleasant walk – featuring forest vistas and views of the fast moving waterways and distant Mainland mountains.

Stamp River Long Trail: Located near Port Alberni, the Stamp River Long Trail features a route that traverses 7.5 kilometers of old growth forest on the eastern bank of the Stamp River. The trail runs mainly parallel to the river while numerous short switchbacks provide contrasting views of the river from above. Ancient firs and cedars can be found along the length of the trail, and there is a particularly fine stand of old growth near the northern end of the route. Eagles, hawks, and various water birds are frequently seen. In fall, bears are also commonly encountered feeding on spawning salmon, it’s essential care be taken to avoid encountering a feeding bear at these times. Caution should also be exercised during winter when water levels can be very high. The trail can be accessed from either the south or bearnorth ends, but there are no intermediate access points. The south end is accessed from the parking lot at Stamp River Provincial Park.

It’s clear, with its exceptional beauty, mild climate and excess of varied natural terrain, Vancouver Island is a destination of choice for hikers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts of all types. In these past two blog entries we’ve offered a mere glimpse into the world of wilderness trail hiking and it’s hoped it will whet your appetite for more. You’re encouraged to conduct some research of your own, and map out an adventure that will live in your memories forever.