Guest Post: Easy Hiking Trails
A Hike in British Columbia
A few years ago a friend and I set out to hike a trail on Vancouver Island called Flower Ridge. I had never heard of the place before until my friend mentioned it. He said it was an easy hike into Strathcona Park with snow-capped peaks surrounding the ridge. If we were lucky, we might catch the flowers bloom in the area, the very reason it was called Flower Ridge. Sounded good to me.
After work on a Friday afternoon in July, we packed our stuff in the car and headed north. Our plan was to camp at the trailhead and then get an early start and be on top of the ridge early the next day.
A little over 3 hours of driving from Nanaimo and we were at the trailhead. We had decided to hike up the trail a bit until we completely lost our light and find a decent place to camp for the night, giving us a bit of a head start for the morning.
We lost our light quickly and threw our headlamps on to pick out a camping spot. Apparently there aren’t many flat spots on the side of a ridge. We hunted for another 40 minutes to find a relatively flat area where we could set up camp.
The next morning we explored the area a bit. A full day of work, hiking and hunting for a campsite in the dark the day before didn’t give us much time to look around. We were in the middle of a beautiful old forest with a stream trickling down the hill beside our tent.
Breakfast done and camp packed up, we started the grind up to the top of the ridge. We hadn’t gained much elevation the night before so there was still lots to climb. I’m glad I packed as light as I could.
Finally, we gained the ridge. It was a grind getting to the top but it was worth it. Coming out of the trees and turning around gave us almost 360 degree views of snow-capped peaks and Buttle Lake back down in the valley we had just come up from.
The rest of the day was an easy hike along the ridge towards Mount Septimus, Rousseau and 9 Peaks. 3/4 of the way down the ridge we found a great spot to camp and spend the remainder of our day. There was no shortage of incredible vistas to gaze at. Hanging glaciers, massive water falls, green valleys and white-capped peaks were everywhere we looked. I just spent the rest of the day taking in the scenery.
Waking up the next day to more great weather, we packed up camp and started the trek back to the car. I was sad to leave the amazing view but at least downhill is a lot quicker than the grind up! We were back at the car in half the time it took the day before.
To get to Flower Ridge drive north from Victoria or Nanaimo to Campbell River:
Follow the signs and take the highway to Gold River. About 50k out of Gold River, the highway will go across the lake where it turns from Upper Campbell into Buttle. Continue straight here onto Westmin Road for 30km and you’ll see a park sign and parking lot for Flower Ridge. Park here and take the trail at the end of the parking lot.
You can spend any where from 1 to 4 days on the trail depending on your speed and how far you want to go. Pack accordingly if staying overnight. The ridge has snow on it for most of the year (it will have quite a bit this year still) so take waterproof boots and gaiters.
If there is snow on the ridge there will be fresh water available but it’s always a good idea to filter or sterilize before drinking. I hiked in shorts and a merino wool t-shirt for our hike up there but make sure to bring cooler weather clothing as well. The rain can come in fast in the mountains and it’s not very comfortable in shorts!