Strathcona Provincial Park (Buttle Lake)

 

Strathcona Provincial Park is a huge park protecting 245,000 hectares of undisturbed wilderness. This park encompasses snow-capped mountains, glaciers, forested valleys, lush alpine plateaus, pristine lakes, clear streams and impressive waterfalls. The majestic scenery and a striking array of outdoor recreational pursuits available in this park make it a favourite destination for many visitors. There are 52 kilometres of hiking trails of every level of difficulty, ranging from short nature walks to strenuous multi-day backpacking trips. The main body of water in the park, Buttle Lake, is popular for fishing, boating, canoeing, swimming, and waterskiing. It is also possible to catch rainbow, cutthroat, and Dolly Varden trout in numerous smaller lakes and streams. Canoeing and kayaking are popular activities on Buttle Lake, and canoes can be rented from the nearby Strathcona Park Lodge.

Buttle Lake campground is found 48 km west from the town of Campbell River on Highway 28, just across the bridge from the park entrance. This campground offers a wide expanse of white sandy beach on the shores of Buttle Lake, with a designated area for swimming, and several short trails, one of which leads around Darkis Lake, which has a good fishing potential. Several longer hikes, as well as the Crest Creek Crags climbing area, are within a short driving distance from this campground. Buttle Lake campground is adjacent to Driftwood Bay group camping site, which has its own beach. Ralph River campground is a further 27 km away on Western Mine Road.

Facilities

Vehicle Accessible Camping Walk-in / Wilderness Camping Group Camping - Cabins Picnic Areas Campfires - Pit Toilets - Drinking Water - - Playground Boat Launch Wheel Chair Accessibility Beach Managed Site / Facility Operator

Activities

Fishing Hiking Swimming - Boating Canoeing / Kayaking Waterskiing Wind Surfing Bicycling - - Climbing - Horse Riding Wildlife Watching Hunting Winter Recreation - - -

Rating

Campsite privacy
Fun for kids
Lots of shade
Peacefulness/Quietness
Activities

Number of campsites: 85, reservable: 35, nearest town: Campbell River (48 km), Gold River (52 km)

Additional Information

Location

Strathcona Park is located on central Vancouver Island near the communities of Campbell River and the Comox Valley, which are the primary access points to the park. Day users of Strathcona will be interested in two areas: Buttle Lake and the hiking opportunities afforded by Forbidden Plateau.

Buttle Lake: The main access to Strathcona Park is via Highway 28, which connects with Gold River on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Follow Hwy 19 north past Courtenay to Campbell River, then follow Hwy 28 west for 48 km. Buttle Lake and Driftwood Bay Campgrounds are located just off the highway. To reach the Ralph River Campground, follow Western Mine Road south for an additional 27 km. Please note that gas and services are not available between Campbell River and Gold River.

Forbidden Plateau: The main access route to Forbidden Plateau from Courtenay and Campbell River is via the Paradise Meadows Trailhead at Mount Washington. From Highway 19 follow signs to Mount Washington Ski Resort via exit #130 (the Strathcona Parkway) for 20 km. Turn left onto the Nordic Lodge road for 1.5 km to the Paradise Meadows parking lot.

Contact Information

R.L.C. Enterprize Ltd.
E-mail address: office@rlcenterprize.com
Phone: (250) 474-1336
Please go to www.discovercamping.ca to reserve a campsite.

Camping Information

Fees

Vehicle Accessible Camping Fee: $15.00 per party / night.

BC Senior Rate (Labour Day to June 14 only): $7.50 per senior couple/night.

Winter Vehicle Accessible Camping Fee: $10.00 per party / night.

Backcountry Camping Fee: $5.00 per person / night, for all persons 13 years of age or older.

Operation Dates

Buttle Lake campground is open for camping from April 1 to October 31, but no amenities such as water and firewood are provided during the months of April and October.

Campground dates with full fees and services: May 1 – September 30. Campground reservable dates: May 15 - September 8.

Backcountry camping is permitted year round; a fee is charged from June 15 to September 30.

Facilities

Vehicle Accessible Camping

Vehicle Accessible Camping

Buttle Lake campground offers 85 vehicle accessible campsites set in a second-growth Douglas fir forest. Buttle Lake has a developed sandy beach; some sites are located right on the lakeshore. Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available.

Walk-in / Wilderness Camping

Walk-in / Wilderness Camping

There are designated backcountry sites located at Bedwell Lake trail (12 walk-in sites), Elk River trail (wilderness sites), Della Falls trail and the Forbidden Plateau core area (44 walk-in sites). Lake Helen Mackenzie, Kwai Lake and Circlet Lake campsites are accessed primarily from the Paradise Meadows trailhead. Pit toilets and food caches are located at most of these camping locations. Fires are not permitted at the Forbidden Plateau core area, nor anywhere in the backcountry area of this park. A backcountry fee is charged; self registration vaults are located at trailheads. Campers must use designated camping sites in these areas. Free-standing tents are recommended as many locations have tent pads and pegging your tent may not be an option. If the designated area is full and unable to hike to the next designated site, check with the park operator.. If no operator available, you are allowed to camp in a non-designated site for one night only while practicing %u201CLeave No Trace%u201D Ethics. As well, you are still required to pay the backcountry fee if in the core areas. ***** Wilderness camping is allowed in other areas of the park. There is no fee; no facilities are provided. Random camping is not permitted within 1 km of main roads or in designated fee collection areas. ***** There are designated marine/backcountry camping opportunities at 5 marine campsites on Buttle Lake and Upper Campbell Lake. Overnight fees apply from June 15 to September 30. Self registration fee stations are located at boat launches (Buttle/Karst) and day-use areas (Karst/Lupin/Auger Point). All marine sites have tents pads and tables. ***** Winter camping opportunities exist throughout the park. Backcountry camping is permitted year round; no fee is charged during the winter. Please camp near toilet facilities where possible and follow %u201CLeave No Trace%u201D camping ethics. Fires are not allowed in the backcountry areas of this park; bring a portable stove for cooking.

Group Camping

Group Camping

The Driftwood Bay group site is located next to Buttle lake and offers exclusive group camping with wheelchair accessible pit toilets and a covered picnic shelter with wood stove. This site is available by reservation only and can be reserved y calling 1-250-474-1336. Group Camping Fee: $15.00 per party / night. Youth Group Camping Fee: $50.00 per group / night.

Cabins

Cabins

Strathcona Park Lodge and Outdoor Education Centre, located 5 km east of the park entrance at Buttle Lake, offers outdoor education and wilderness skills training and accommodation.

Picnic Areas

Picnic Areas

There are a wide range of picnic/day-use opportunities throughout this park. Picnic/day-use facilities are available at Elk Portal, Buttle Lake boat launch, Lupin Falls, Auger Point, Karst Creek, Lady Falls and Crest Lake. Paradise Meadows is a popular day-use area although no picnic tables are available. This area offers a variety of trails suitable for day hikes.

Campfires

Campfires

Fires are only permitted in Strathcona Park where facilities (a steel fire ring) are provided for campfires. No open fires are allowed in any of the backcountry areas. Firewood can be purchased from the Park Facility Operator at the Buttle Lake and Ralph River campgrounds.

Drinking Water

Drinking Water

Drinking water hand pumps are located at the Buttle Lake, Ralph River and Driftwood Bay campgrounds. In the backcountry, drinking water comes from a variety of sources. Boiling, treating or filtering surface water prior to consumption is recommended.

Playground

Playground

An adventure playground is located at the Buttle Lake campground.

Boat Launch

Boat Launch

Two boat-launching ramps are located on Buttle Lake at the Buttle Lake boat launch and the Karst Creek boat launch. Boaters should exercise extreme caution at all times because the lake is a reservoir and submerged stumps may be encountered, particularly close to shore.

Wheel Chair Accessibility

Wheel Chair Accessibility

Wheelchair accessible facilities are available at the Driftwood Bay group site, Buttle Lake campground (pit toilets only), Elk Portal entrance (pit toilets only). The Crest Creek day-use area offers wheelchair accessible picnic tables and a pit toilet. The new Paradise Meadows trailhead at Mt Washington now offers a wheelchair accessible trail that is suitable for most types of wheelchairs and battery powered scooters.

Activities

Fishing

Fishing

Angling can be rewarding on Buttle Lake and on the other lakes and waterways in and near the park. Cutthroat and Rainbow trout are the primary catch. Tributaries to Buttle Lake are closed to angling. The Elk River is open to catch and release fly fishing only. All anglers should check the current regulations issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior to fishing for other restrictions.

Hiking

Hiking

Visitors to Strathcona have numerous hiking trails to enjoy, ranging from 20-minute strolls to arduous, multi-day hikes and mountaineering adventures. There are three main hiking areas: Bedwell Trail area, adjacent to Ralph River campground, Elk River trail area, adjacent to Buttle Lake campground, and Forbidden Plateau, with a separate access from Courtenay and Campbell River via the Mount Washington skiing area. There is also a number of short nature trails easily accessible by road.

Swimming

Swimming

Good swimming is available in Buttle Lake, near the Buttle Lake and Driftwood Bay campgrounds. Buoys mark the designated swimming areas. Although the water is cold, swimming is permitted in all the lakes in the backcountry except for Kwai Lake. There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks.

Canoeing / Kayaking

Canoeing / Kayaking

Canoeing and kayaking is popular on Buttle and Upper Campbell Lakes. Buttle Lake is subject to strong afternoon winds that may be very hazardous to small craft. Canoeists and kayakers should exercise caution at all times.

Waterskiing

Waterskiing

Waterskiing opportunities exist on Buttle Lake.

Wind Surfing

Wind Surfing

Windsurfing opportunities exist on Buttle Lake.

Bicycling

Bicycling

Some mountain bike opportunities exist on the west side of the park through Gold River in the vicinity of Kunlin Lake. Bicycles must keep to roadways.

Climbing

Climbing

Crest Creek Crags offers more than 150 climbing routes for various skill levels. Please ensure you and your climbing partner have the skills, equipment and experience to climb safely. Crest Creek Crags is accessed via Hwy 28 from Campbell River; approximately 11 km east of Gold River.

Horse Riding

Horse Riding

Horseback riding is allowed in the Kunlin area north of the Ucona River only.

Wildlife Watching

Wildlife Watching

Strathcona Provincial Park offers unlimited opportunities for nature appreciation and wildlife viewing. These range from developed facilities to pristine backcountry experiences. Observation platforms to view various waterfalls can be found at Lupin Falls, Lady Falls, Karst Creek and both Lower and Upper Myra Falls. In the backcountry, adventurous visitors can see beautiful Della Falls, whose drop of 440 metres over three cascades makes it one of the highest waterfalls in Canada. Opportunities to see wildlife exist throughout the park. Visitors may see black bears, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, cougars, Trumpeter swans, Bald eagles, whiskeyjacks, squirrels, tree frogs and white tailed Ptarmigan, to name just a few of the species inhabiting this wilderness park.

Hunting

Hunting

Hunting is only permitted in the McBride Creek and Megin-Talbot areas of Strathcona Park for specific species in season. Hunters must have valid licences and tags. Please refer to the current Hunting and Trapping Regulations and Synopsis publication for closures and regulations.

Winter Recreation

Winter Recreation

Backcountry skiing and boarding exist in the park. Developed ski facilities can be found at Mount Washington Alpine Resort, adjacent to the park. Mount Washington often boasts one of the highest snowfalls of any ski resort in North America. Ski rentals are available from Mount Washington or from various commercial outlets in the Comox Valley and Campbell River. ***** Cross-country skiing is a popular activity in Paradise Meadows during the winter. More than half of the Nordic trails set by Mount Washington are within Strathcona Park. Ski rentals are available from Mount Washington or from various commercial outlets in the Comox Valley and Campbell River. ***** Snowshoeing is popular in Paradise Meadows during the winter. Mount Washington sets some snowshoes trails for beginners; more adventurous visitors can snowshoe at any point in the park. Rentals are available from Mount Washington or from various commercial outlets in the Comox Valley and Campbell River. ***** Snowmobiles are NOT permitted in Strathcona Park. Opportunities for snowmobiling are available at Mount Washington Alpine Resort.

User Reviews

Campsite privacy
Fun for kids
Lots of shade
Peacefulness/Quietness
Activities

Submitted by Guest on June 28, 2009

 

User Images

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Jun 28, 2009

Guest
Jun 28, 2009

View of the lake and mountains

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Jun 28, 2009

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Jun 28, 2009

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Jun 28, 2009

 

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