Jul 16, 2012 at 9:12 am #1292050
@ajg519Locale: Northeast U.S.
I'll be visiting Vancouver this August and am looking to go out 3 night trip.I've heard good things about the West Coast Trail in Pacific Rim National Park, but am not sure I have the time to make it all the way out there from the city. Any recommendations for something closer? Maybe in Garibaldi Park?
AndrewJul 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm #1895257
the howe sound crest trail is amazing, you can see Vancouver at night.
the juan de fuca trail should be doable in 3 days.
note that you will spend more money getting to vancouver island and back to vancouver.
garibaldi will be more crowded.
check the conditions in the mountains before you go, though. my friends in vancouver told me that there is still quite a bit of snow around.
I would do the howe sound, cause you will get to see some mountains and the ocean and incredible views.
enjoy your time there and don't forget to get some amazing sushi.Jul 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm #1895294
Hiking the WCT in 3 nights would be tough….that's already an aggressive pace for this technical hike and if you lose the first and last days getting to/from the area then you're really low on time to do it. It's also expensive if you're paying ferry fees, $125 to hike the trail, another $125 for the shuttle back to the start etc.
If you are going to Vancouver Island, the Juan de Fuca trail (immediately south of the WCT on the same coast) is easier to hike because it's shorter (48km vs 75km), much cheaper ($5/day instead of $125) and there is a road that parallels the hike so you can hitch back to the start when you're done, and there are some early bail out options if you're low on time. China Beach to Sombreo Beach would be a nice casual trip in 3-4 days if you're not into pushing the pace. 4 days/3 nights would be decent clip on the JDF because it's somewhat slow hiking, but it would be entirely do-able if you're motivated.
I agree with Stefan that the Howe Sound Crest Trail (HSCT) would be a very nice option. This is my recommendation as well. It starts right at the end of the city, so you can just take city transit and a short taxi ride to the start if you don't have a car. It's a beautiful hike with amazing views of the coast mountains and the ocean. Amazingly, very few people hike this once you're past the Lions. It's only 28km (16 miles) but it's slow going (ie. 1mph average) because the trail is so rugged and undulating on mountain ridges. 3 days/2 nights is about normal, but you could easily spend 3 nights on the trail. If you're thinking of doing this one then I can go into more detail for you. Good fishing at Deeks Lake.
Garibaldi has some amazing scenery and some really nice trails, but it lacks any longer hikes. The trail networks in the different areas of the park do not connect, so it's tough to put together a hike that is more than one night long – unless you're just there to camp. You can put together a 20-30 mile trip, but the trails are mostly so nice that you could hike that in 8-12 hours. I've been meaning to connect all the different networks of trails in Garibaldi with some bushwacking and packrafting to create a long Elfin Lakes to Wedgemont traverse, but I've yet to get it done.Jul 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm #1896086
Elfin Lakes gets you above treeline faster than anything, and is freaking gorgeous. From there there as a base there are several options for summits and networking with other trails as Dan mentioned.
Other options – you could look into Golden Ears park, Manning Park or sections of of the Stein Valley system, though the last two should be enjoyed with more time on your hands probably.
http://www.clubtread.com/ is the primary local backpackers' forum for many trip suggestions and current route conditions.
While Garibaldi is certainly beautiful, only go if you enjoy spending the evening socializing with other hikers and pitched on wooden pads.Jul 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm #1896575
Give the Juan de Fuca Trail a try. It is essentially a West Coast Trail 'lite' option. If you like it you will want to hike the WCT because it is not just a bit better but an entire magnitude better. If you are familiar with coastal hiking and have a light pack it is not hard to do it overnight. A couple of days makes for a super easy and relaxing trip. I live in Victoria. Drop me a line and I will go on the hike with you if you want! I've hiked it 3 times this year:
Early Feburary crazy wet and muddy.
April nice hiking weather rained only at night. Muddy
Late May. Warm, windy, mud was better. No rain.
August can be warm hiking but the trail will be nice and dry!Jul 21, 2012 at 10:04 pm #1896591
Is that the JDF or WCT you've done three times this year? I've been wanting to do the WCT in the winter – likely utilizing a packraft for Nitinat Narrows.Jul 22, 2012 at 7:41 am #1896637
It is the JDF that I have been on this year. I did the WCT last summer though. Unfortunately the WCT is closed from October to May. The Nitnat has some pretty good flow to it and I personally would not want to pack raft it, but to each their own. The guy that runs the boat across has plenty of stories of people atempting to cross by themsevles and being swept either towards the ocean or into Nitnat Lake.Jul 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm #1896666
Yeah I'd definately do the research ahead of time so I'd be crossing at a time when there isn't a strong current one way or the other. I don't know if it'll ever happen – just an idea that appeals to me because of the lack of crowds, more challenging weather/trail conditions and avoiding the $125 fee.
There is a YouTube video of a guy that hikes the WCT in January and he brings a wetsuit and swims the narrows along with a couple others. Not really my favourite strategy, but an impressive endeavour.Jul 22, 2012 at 5:35 pm #1896725
Swimming the Nitnat Narrows in January is pretty crazy! I too used to think that the hiking fee was too steep. I think was $167 excluding reservation fee ($24 I think) or the bus back to the other end for another $75. I avoided the trail because of that mostly doing trips of 1 or 2 weeks in Strathcona Park instead. But last year with all the lingering snow in the mountains we made a last minute plan to hike the WCT. As last minute as changing plans on Tuesday and leaving on Thursday. The hike was worth every single penny. The crowds were not bad at all; the campsite are busy but there is plenty of room. We only briefly saw a few people on the trail. I'd do it again despite the cost.Jul 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm #1896737
What 4-10 day hikes do you recommend in Strathcona? I've been meaning to visit this park but I keep winding up elsewhere on the island. Last summer I hiked JDF, Cape Scott, Carmanah, Clayoquot Valley Witness Trail and this summer I was on the Wildside trail on Flores Island.Jul 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm #1896751
It is hard to beat the trip from Elk River Valley to the mine site. You can climb Golden Hinde on the way if you have the time/weather/energy. Be prepared for snow below the tree line and 'lay of the land' navigation. It is a route and snow especially will hide any bits of a path. I would recommend about a week for the approximately 57km considering snow and first time through the area.
If you want something shorter then I can't recommend the Comox Glacier to Buttle Lake route enough. I did it in 4 days a few years back. It is pretty straight forward above treeline hiking with the exception of getting around Mt Harmstrom to the Cliffe Glacier. You need to find the right gully to descend 1/2 way down and then traverse slightly right to the adjacent gully to gain access to the Cliffe Glacier. A rope is useful for non climbers or if the gully is wet. The glaciers are pretty benign but there is always a possibility for crevasses. I have never had issues here.
To add more length (2 days) to the trip you can continue around Mt Septimus instead of descending to Buttle Lake via Flower Ridge. The upper Price Creek valley from Green Lake to the ascent to Cream Lake is one heck of a bushbash. It took us about 7hrs to travel the 2.5km several years ago but Green Lake was worth it. Other option is around the Septimus Massif on the south side. Involves travel on ice. You can either exit at the Price Creek trailhead or the Bedwell Lake trailhead.
Sadly I have not done the Marble Meadows section of the park as it require a boat to cross Buttle Lake but I have heard many a good thing and you can link it up to either the mine trail head or the Elk River Valley.
I could list more if you want. All the routes in the park are awesome but fairly challenging. Anything more than a day from a trailhead is a remote route and you will probably not see another person. Check out the Island Alpine Guide by Phil Stone, Hiking Trails III, and http://www.islandhikes.com
If you want to hook up for a hike some time I am always looking for someone to hike with.Jul 22, 2012 at 9:37 pm #1896776
Thanks for all the great trip ideas – very much appreciated. Strathcona seems like such a great park to explore. So much to do…
I'd love to go for a hike sometime, but unfortunately I can't do it this summer because I'm moving in a couple weeks to finish some university coursework (Wildlife Biology). So I'm going to be in Thunder Bay, ON for the school year and then hopefully doing an M.Sc. back out West the year after. I've bookmarked this thread, so hopefully I'm back out West next summer and then I'll read this for some Strathcona ideas and shoot you a message.Jul 23, 2012 at 7:28 am #1896826
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I hiked in the Forbidden Plateau a little. Courtenay up to ski area. Several trails out of the ski area.
Nice because there's a paved road to trailhead which is at elevation, so the entire hike is alpine. It's at the Southeast corner of the park so closer to civilization – less driving time.
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