Exploring Strathcona National Park

The magnificent surroundings of Buttle Lake

Strathcona National Park is the oldest Park in British Columbia having been designated in 1911. The Park is situated virtually in the centre of the Island and is highland dominated by mountain peaks and covers an area of 250,000 hectares. Some of the peaks are so high they are permanently covered with snow and the climate of the park is different to the other parks on the island with three active glaciers. Cold winters with snow fall are combined with pleasantly warm summers. The highest peak is the Golden Hind located right in the centre of the park and is 2200 metres high. The formation of these highlands is a combination of three major geological events. First the area was found on the bottom of the oceans and was subjected to hue volcanic activity. Secondly the land was lifted from the sea as destructive plate action folded and lifted the land out of the sea. Finally, and most recently, the land has been subjected to glacial activity. Glacial and periglacial processes have combined to sculpture the land mass into the shapes that are in evidence today. Within this area much of it remains virtual wilderness with only the most adventurous being able to explore. There are two areas that offer visitor-related activities, and more importantly access. Buttle Lake is a huge lake 75km long yet only 1km wide, and is located in a glaciated U shaped valley. The depth of the water has been affected over time by human activity, as the creation of the Strathcona dam raised the level of the lake by 8.5 metres.

Della Falls a great sight after a 7 hour hike

The lake is the source of the Campbell drainage basin which drains an area of 1,400 square kilometers. Access to the lake can be found from the highway 28 which passes through the northern section of Strathcona Park. There are 86 campsites around the lake which are open from April to October. The activities found are Canoeing, cycling, swimming and hiking. However, the biggest attraction of the lake is its fishing with plentiful supplies of Cutthroat and Rainbow trout. To the west of the lake is Della Falls which is the highest waterfalls in British Columbia with a vertical drop of 440 metres through its 3 stages. Entrance to the falls can only be found from the Great Central Lake and involves a 7 hour hike to the base of the falls. The other main accessible area within the park is the Forbidden Plateau which is found to the north west of Comox Lake. The area is dominated by gentle undulating slopes and gives great relief from the mountainous nature of the park. Activities on the plateau include cross country skiing, scrambling, mountaineering and there is a dense network of trails for hiking. The trails give the hikers the opportunity to experience the alpine meadows that the area is famous for.

Access into the park is from the Mount Washington Alpine Resort just off highway 19 with camping available around Paradise Meadows. It is one of the few parks that people want to visit in the winter to take advantage of the skiing opportunities.On an island with so many parks Strathcona is quite unique with the landscapes that can be explored, and the resulting activities that the public can partake in. It shares the wilderness feel and is a major ingredient that goes into the final recipe of why Vancouver Island is such a beautiful destination to visit.


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