Jul 1, 2003 | Marmot, Summer 2003

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. Trail Maps are available.

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 kms 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 round-trip 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.

A weekend information service is operated by Strathcona Wilderness Institute at Buttle Lake Narrows.

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