Strathcona Provincial Park was a primary objective on our Vancouver Island itinerary, and we spent our first full day exploring and hiking around the Buttle Lake part of the park.
The drive from our B&B in Comox took us through Campbell River, which is also home to Elk Falls Provincial Park where we stopped to stretch our legs and check out Elk Falls. Once we figured out the correct trail it was a quick hike out to the river and falls.
Elk Falls, you can also view it from the very top!
Leandra being silly with the overlook sign
We continued driving along Gold River Highway which eventually makes its way along the shoreline of Upper Campbell Lake.
The hillside can be steep but the views on the shore are worth it!
Twenty minutes later we were at the park boundary, marked by a small trailer with a volunteer handing out maps and advice. Like several other Canadians he guessed that I was from the East Coast which is not something I’m regularly asked in the US… His advice was helpful for the trails we had in mind too.
A few minutes drive into the park lead to Lupin Falls, a short hike across the street from a well-marked (and mostly deserted) parking lot.
The park had installed a small bench with a beautiful view near the base of the falls where we enjoyed some snacks and the fact that we had the waterfall to ourselves.
From Lupin Falls we continued south along Westmin Rd, stopping to check out two roadside falls and enjoy the amazing views.
Our next destination was Upper Myra Falls, and to get to it we needed to follow the road to the end. Thankfully we knew this, because near the end, the road takes you through the middle of a mining operation! It was a bit jarring to go from beautiful nature to heavy industry and back to nature, so we definitely felt like we had taken a wrong turn somewhere. We hadn’t, and the road finally dead-ends into a signposted parking lot. From there we walked about 1km up the logging road (past explosives trailers!) to the start of the trail on the right. Leandra set the GPS on her phone to track our distance and this hike was 5.2 miles altogether. It was a cloudless day, and fairly warm (~88-90 degrees) so we were glad to have the shade of the trees. We were also glad to have our camelbak bag with us for the 2L of water. Eventually we came to the overlook for the falls…
Tired and sweaty we made our way back to our car, then headed back down the road to Lower Myra Falls which has a steep, but blessedly short, hike. There are three separate sections to Lower Myra, one you can see from across the lake and two others best seen from trail.
The intense light and the openness of the forest around the waterfall made for a challenging scene; this would likely be better early in the morning or once the sun was behind the mountains.
We were truly tired by this point and began our drive back to Comox, stopping for well-deserved sodas and an icepop at the Strathcona Park Lodge.
While a tiring day, Strathcona is a beautiful park and a worthy destination, especially since the lack of crowds gave it a sense of peacefulness.