Members of the Strathcona Centennial Expedition nearing camp on Crown Mountain, Strathcona Park. Photo by Philip Stone

New guidebook opens door to Island’s best kept secret – Strathcona Park

  • Feb. 19, 2018 1:30 a.m.

Outdoor enthusiasts on Vancouver Island have long cherished the beauty of Strathcona Provincial Park.

Hikers appreciate the excellent trails leading up to the high meadows and ridge tops; fishermen enjoy the challenge of casting into the rushing Elk River, mountain climbers and backcountry skiers thrill at the challenges of the high peaks and open bowls, and visitors of all ages have made memories on the lakeside beaches on summertime campouts. Strathcona is truly one of the great treasures of Vancouver Island.

Celebrating the wonders of Strathcona Park is a new guidebook by local mountaineer and author Philip Stone. For the past 30 years, Stone has wandered through much of the park’s backcountry, climbed its mountains in every season and along the way has photographed and documented his adventures. Exploring Strathcona Park is the result, a beautifully designed, full colour showcase of British Columbia’s first provincial park. This is the seventh volume in a series of Wild Isle Guides and will fill a much needed gap in the knowledge-base of Vancouver Island front and backcountry recreation.

Exploring Strathcona Park is over 440 pages packed with bright, colour photographs illustrating the terrain and lines of travel. There are maps, elevation profiles and detailed descriptions including GPS waypoints for hiking trails and backcountry routes throughout the park.

“This guidebook will be the go-to resource for trip planning and wilderness navigation in the [Strathcona Park] backcountry. I’ve been lucky to have read it cover to cover over the last few months. It’s packed full of data and inspiration for a lifetime of adventures!” said local guide Mike Blake. “I started my professional guiding career with Philip Stone’s guidebooks. It was through Island Alpine in 2003 and Coastal Hikes in 2007, that I researched, trained, and hiked my way to becoming a certified ACMG Hiking Guide. If you’re serious about hiking and backpacking on Vancouver Island, you’ll want this guide book!”

Using a grading system and consistent colloquial language, Exploring Strathcona Park shows the progression of skills and commitment needed to venture ever farther out into the backcountry.

“First time visitors to Strathcona are usually very surprised by how rugged the terrain is,” says Stone. “Even many longtime residents don’t realize that there are 2,000-metre peaks in the centre of the Island, they’re higher than those impressive mountains over on the mainland that we all see from the highway. We’re very lucky here, I’ve visited mountain ranges all over the world and Strathcona is one of the most beautiful you can find anywhere.”

One of the backcountry treks described in the new book is the Augerpoint Traverse which links the trails at Paradise Meadows over Mt Albert Edward to Buttle Lake. In summer, hikers usually take between two and four days to complete this route making it ideal for a long weekend type outing. It takes a bit of organization to get the transportation lined up, either a two vehicle shuttle or a driving service to pick up the group at the end and return them to their car at the trailhead.

Once underway, hikers benefit from the sub-alpine elevation starting point at Paradise Meadows and the excellent trails and camping facilities across Forbidden Plateau. As the route climbs up to the summit of Mt Albert Edward, the Island’s sixth highest mountain, the views overlooking the Salish Sea and into the heart of Strathcona are spectacular. A long easy descent takes hikers down to a sheltered pass between the head of the Ralph and Oyster rivers where there is good camping amongst the sub-alpine trees. A steady ascent leads back up above treeline onto the ridge tops west of Augerpoint Mountain, overlooking Buttle Lake. There are nearby mountains to climb if time allows before making the long descent on Jack’s Augerpoint Trail down to the highway at Buttle Lake.

All the logistics and information needed to complete the Augerpoint Traverse and a total of 30 other backcountry hikes are detailed in Exploring Strathcona Park. There are descriptions of the shorter roadside interpretive trails and many day hikes like the Flower Ridge Trail, Elk River Trail and Crest Mountain. For first time visitors and hardened Strathcona veterans there’s something for everyone in this comprehensive guidebook.

Online mail orders are being accepted now for mid-February delivery and Exploring Strathcona Park will be available at local outdoor retailers like Valhalla Outfitters by the end of February.

For more information, to read an online preview or to place an order visit www.ExploringStrathconaPark.ca.

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