New Trail Head Open!
After years of planning, fundraising and building, a new trailhead for Strathcona Provincial Park will officially open at Mount Washington's Raven Lodge this summer.
"The new trailhead intersects the old trail about a kilometre along the south end of Paradise Meadows, leading toward Lake Helen Mackenzie," said BC Parks Area Supervisor Andy Smith. "The trailhead and other enhancements have cost $200,000 to date. Opening the new trailhead means the former trailhead is now closed for good."
"The old trailhead facilities have now all been removed and some earthwork will be done this spring to ensure no future parking in this area," Smith said. "All visitors should now use the BC Parks parking lot adjacent to Raven Lodge.
"People should be encouraged to access the Park using only this new wheelchair accessible trail," Smith said. "However, as some people may still wander back along the road to the old trailhead area we will need to confirm how they are using our new trail system through a simple survey. This will hopefully be done by the Strathcona Wilderness Institute," he added.
The new trailhead still requires a bit of work," Smith said, "especially after the heavy snow load this winter." Crews have improved the pit toilet and erected a split cedar fence (which will be removed each winter).
Crews also created seating for a mini-amphitheatre site, marked out parking spaces, landscaped the parking lot and prepared to install a new portal sign made from granite.
The Strathcona Wilderness Institute will continue as in past years to operate an information hut at the new trailhead. Institute volunteers will supply visitors with park information (also available elsewhere in the Marmot) and will continue to run nature programs as in the past. The hut will be a temporary one while BC Parks and other stakeholders is still raising funds for the construction of a new outdoor information hut located at the new trailhead.
"The trailhead project won the 2007 Community Partnership award from the Ministry of Environment," Smith said, "and the work has been recognized by the Campbell River Access Awareness Committee."
The trailhead also receives top marks from Mount Washington Alpine Resort, which provided the land for the trailhead.
"Unlike other access to Strathcona (Park) _ i.e. the Buttle Lake trails, Elk Falls, Port Alberni _ most of the elevation gain is done in the drive up," Resort Marketing Co-ordinator Rob Burgess-Webb said. "This means that hikers needn't hike uphill for hours before they reach alpine meadows and lakes. This is probably the biggest advantage of the trailhead," he said. "And of course, upon finishing the trail you can grab a bite and a beer at beautiful Raven Lodge."