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The park has two front country campgrounds and a group camping site in the Buttle Lake Area. The Buttle Lake campground has some site which can be reserved through the Discover Camping website. Wilderness camping is available at designated (and in some cases random areas) in the south of the park (see Della Falls Trail), the Buttle Lake Area and Paradise Meadows/Forbidden Plateau.
Front Country Camping
Buttle Lake - 85 sites, Located near the eastern entrance to the park at the north end of Buttle Lake. This is the park's most popular campground and it has a nice sandy beach (unsupervised) along with access for launching a canoe or kayak (with a short carry). There are some sites available on the beach beside the lake.
Ralph River - 76 sites, Located at the southern end of Buttle Lake, the campground is usually less busy than the Buttle Lake site.
Driftwood Bay is locate beside the lake near the Buttle Lake Campground. Contact the park for the requirements for using the site.
This is a 250,445 hectare wilderness and has an extensive system of hiking trails. There are eight nature trails anywhere from 400 meters in length to 2 km. You'll find over twenty other trails for hikers and backpackers in the park. Always treat any of the parks water before drinking. Vancouver Island is bear and cougar habitat. Always check with the park about conditions and closures before setting out.
Buttle Lake Area
Paradise Meadows/Forbidden Plateau
The park is a huge wilderness area with lots of trails with designated or random camping areas throughout the park. Many of the trails become routes as they move into the alpine, necessitating a good knowledge of map and compass along with route finding skills. Campfires are not permitted, so ensure you have a good camp stove. Always practice no trace camping. Snow may be present well into the summer months. Food caches are available at most designated sites. Bring your own water or check the availability of sources before setting out. Always treat any of the parks water before drinking. Vancouver Island is bear and cougar habitat. Always check with the park about conditions and closures before setting out.
Buttle Lake Area
Paradise Meadows/Forbidden Plateau Area
There are also routes from the the Forbidden Meadows area into Mount Becher and through the McKenzie Meadows area starting from the Wood Mountain parking lot. The Comox Glacier is also accessible but the access is difficult. For those with the skills there is also a route from Mount Albert Edward to the Buttle Lake area. Parts of the park are glaciated. Check with the park for further information on backpacking, mountaineering and climbing. Always check with the park about conditions and closures before setting out.
Some of the parks flora and fauna is different from the same species found on the mainland. In addition you'll find a different mix of species on the island. Cougars (rarely seen) have higher concentrations here, grizzlies are completely absent (although, there is some evidence of recent migration) while fox, porcupine and coyotes are also no where to be found. Watch for deer and roosevelt elk in the park. Kinglets, nuthatches, chickadees and the stunning stellar's jay may be seen.
Lupin Falls, Lady
Falls (Lady Falls Trail) and Karst Creek are just a short distance from
the road and provide viewing platforms. The trailheads to Myra Falls
(upper and lower) are also road accessible. Della Falls (440m) requires
boat access to the end of Great Central Lake as well as a long backpack
into the falls. Della cascades down three separate sections and is amongst
the highest in Canada (see the trails section for more information).
Cycling and Mountain Biking
There is an area around Kunlin Lake near Gold River where you can mountain bike in the park. By far the your best bet is just on the edge of the park at Mount Washington (access to Paradise Meadows/Forbidden Plateau) which has 37km of downhill trails with lift access and North Shore features. Rentals are available at the resort. Further afield you'll find excellent biking at the Snowden Demonstration Forest just outside Campbell River. Always check with the park about conditions and closures before setting out.
Canoeing and Kayaking
The main lake for paddles in the park is Buttle Lake. Campbell Lake is also popular but most of the lake is located just outside of the park. Strathcona Park lodge is located on Upper Campbell Lake. Campbell Lake has one wilderness area for canoe campers at the Upper Campbell Marine Site. Buttle Lake has island camping along with three wilderness camping areas on its western shore. To gain access, you have to register, pay your fees then paddle to the sites. There is parking with lake access along the eastern shore off Westmin Road at Auger Point, Karst Creek and Lupin Falls. From north to south the camping areas on Buttle Lake are Rainbow Island with five sites, Titus with five sites, Wolf River with four sites and Phillips Creek, which also has four sites. You can also launch your boat (with a carry) from the two main front country campgrounds as well as the Driftwood Bay group site, all of which are located along Buttle Lake. Paddling big lakes can be hazardous, particularly in the afternoon when winds are often at their peak. Check with the park on conditions, access, campsite availability and fees. Always check with the park about conditions and closures before setting out.
The park has a designated climbing area called Crested Creek Crags. There are over 150 routes with a variety of difficulties. The area is easily accessed along Highway 28 at the western edge of the park. You'll find crags on both sides of the highway with a large parking area on the south side. This is a beautifully developed and maintained area.
The park has access to alpine areas with a number of high peaks including the Golden Hinde at 2200m, the highest peak on Vancouver island. Many of these peaks can only be reached through rugged wilderness, and some require glacier travel, so plan carefully and make sure your skills are a match for your destination. Snow pack can be very deep in the park and the snow may last into July in higher elevations. Always check with the park about conditions and closures before setting out.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Mount Washington Alpine Resort on the edge of the park (Forbidden Plateau/Paradise Meadows) has excellent skiing and boarding with all the amenities. The area usually gets a huge amount of snow and on clear days the views from the mountain alone are worth the price of admission.
Nordic Skiing and Snowshoeing
The Forbidden Plateau is well know as a backcountry touring area with a number of different routes to choose from. Remember this is a true wilderness area and you must have the skills and equipment required. Avalanche training, first aid and winter survival skills are essential.
Cross country skiers can take advantage of the Mount Washington Resort trails which will take you as far into the park as Lake Helen Mackenzie. There are over 55km (34miles) of groomed trails. There are rentals available.
Snowshoeing is popular at the resort as well, with 20km (12miles) of trails available. Rentals are available. Always check with the park about conditions and closures before setting out.
While there are no developed caving opportunities in the park, the Upana Caves are situated just to the west outside Gold River and the Horne Lake Caves can be found to the south of the park. Vancouver island has over a thousand known caves.
The National Topographical Series of maps at 1:50,000 cover the park with 92F/5, 92F/6, 92F/11, 92F/12, 92F/13 and 92K/4. You'll find a general map in the parks brochure as well as a .pdf version online at BC Parks website under Strathcona.
Note: Vancouver Island is bear and cougar habitat, inquire with the park for more information.
Interactive Map of Strathcona Provincial Park
Vancouver Island and British Columbia Tourism & Travel
Rentals, Tours and Attractions in the Surrounding Region
Links of Interest
For current conditions, along with definitive information on the park, contact the park authorities. For regional information check with the local chambers of commerce and tourism offices. Outdoor shops, outfitters and clubs in the vicinity of the park may be other excellent sources of information. If your in the Paradise Meadows/Forbidden Plateau area be sure to drop into the Strathcona Wilderness Centre on the edge of the park at Mount Washington Resort.
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