This December marked my 6th anniversary of moving half way across Canada to live a simpler life on Vancouver Island. Once on the west coast island in BC I discovered my passion for spending as much time as possible outdoors. From hiking to backpacking and climbing, I feel most alive in the dense forest and rugged alpine. In 2018 I did not get out nearly enough and in 2019 I vowed to make time for myself. Well, I accomplished that goal with great success and here is a year in review of hiking on Vancouver Island.

2019 Year in Review : Hiking on Vancouver Island

During the year I got outdoors a lot and looking back now I am so grateful for the time to experience hiking on Vancouver Island. The island is so rugged and wild with such a diversity of forests, mountains and terrain that every hike almost feels like escaping to another world. Over the last couple years I have barely left to hike or climb anywhere else because there is just to much to discover here.

While the title of this post might be Hiking on Vancouver Island I did a whole lot more. This post is more an overview of my big days hikes, backpacking and climbing trips. I spend a lot of time doing endless trail runs, mountain bike rides and shorter hikes but I wanted to focus on the good stuff for you.

The trips below are chronological in the order I did them this year. I was blessed with great friends and amazing weather, not sure I would change a thing looking back. So let us jump right into it.

Avatar Grove

The ancient old growth forests of the Port Renfrew region along the southern coast is an amazing destination for hiking on Vancouver Island.

Walbran River Valley

Every year since I have lived here I make sure the unprotected Walbran River Valley is a must for hiking on Vancouver Island. My goal is to help others to grow awareness for this region threatened by logging currently. Read more; Walbran Valley – Protecting Vancouver Islands Old Growth

Mt Landale

A fun hike and then snowshoe to the summit of Mt Landale with good friend Shane. This south island peak accessed from the Cowichan Valley at Youbou takes you on a long 23 km loop ascending 1760m total gain. We descended to Lomas Lake and then out via Cottonwood main logging road. My route on ViewRanger

5040 Peak

Heading west on Vancouver Island’s highway 4 usually has Tofino on the destination but this alpine destination is merely a short logging road detour along the route. 5040 Peak is a relatively easy hike and scramble to the summit for the weekend warrior crowd. It is growing in popularity for hiking on Vancouver Island with the recent opening of the 5040 Peak Hut “Hišimy̓awiƛ” built by the Alpine Club of Canada. I wrote all about the hut after my snowshoe ascent (while my friend Tom zipped past me on his skis) this past spring, 5040 Peak – Hike, Snowshoe and Skiing on VanIsle

Mount Albert Edward – Strathcona Provincial Park

This was my first overnight backpacking trip of 2019 and was an awesome trip. My friend Cassandra spends more time in the alpine than anyone else I know and she was stoked to join me. We love pushing ourselves and an overnight snowshoe trip on the summit of Mt Albert Edward seemed about right. I would think this is the most popular routes when it comes to hiking on Vancouver Island. LOL but in summer not winter conditions like we did.

Our trip started with hiking through Paradise Meadows, up through Forbidden plateau and then the endlessly long ridge above Circlet Lake to the summit. I slept in my bivy as it froze overnight but was worth every minute as I prefer to overnight for the incredible sunsets.

Enjoy some bonus Mt Alberta Edward history from Lindsay Elms on his Beyond Nootka website about the first European summit in 1927.

Kludahk Trail – San Juan Ridge

Finally I made it to San Juan Ridge to experience the Kuldahk Trail with my friends Paul and Shane. The Kludahk trail, a public trail, runs 48 km long east to west along the San Juan Ridge, which parallels the Juan de Fuca Straight between Jordan River & Port Renfrew. Learn more at the Kuldahk club website and the history of the dedicated volunteers that made this trail possible. This trail deserves the utmost respect and of course Leave No Trace principles as a very delicate ecosystem.

Pogo Mountain

One heck of a bushwack but incredible day once again heading out with Cassandra. Pogo Mountain is a towering aesthetic peak capturing the imagination of all that travel past along the Tofino highway heading west on Tla-o-qui-aht territory. A lesser travelled destination there is no real trail so this trip is best left to the more experienced for hiking on Vancouver Island.

For those wanting to learn more I did wrote a detailed trip report, Pogo Mountain Hike and Scramble

Clayoquot Plateau

This was a very special trip for me with with my good friend Tom as we were granted permission by the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation to visit this region. Rich in cultural and spiritual significance I am grateful to spending 3 days amongst a rare and special land ~ Kleco Kleco

heshook-ish-tsawalk: Everything is one and all are interconnected

Forbidden Plateau Circuit – Strathcona Park

It had been since 2016 that I done the full 3 peak Forbidden Plateau circuit so when a couple friends invited me I said you bet. This demanding trail run or very fast paced route covers 3 mountain peaks. You start out leaving Raven Lodge on the Paradise Meadows trail, through Forbidden Plateau and then tagging the summits of Castlecrag, Mount Frink and Mount Albert Edward.  I have still yet to run it but we managed this day in just over 12 hours covering 36 kms and around 2600m elevation gain ( Strava Details here)

Golden Hinde via Phillips Ridge – Strathcona Park

My 2nd trip to the Golden Hinde, Vancouver Islands tallest mountain located deep in the heart of Strathcona Provincial Park. Joined by Wyatt, Eddie and Cassandra we made the 60km trek gaining over 5800m cumulative elevation over a period of 3 days. Beautiful weather, amazing views, epic summit day and all around awesome experience with friends. This is the bucket list crowning achievement when it comes to hiking on Vancouver Island.

Mt Tom Taylor – Strathcona Park

3 day trip out to enjoy Strathcona Provincial park with Mt Tom Taylor as our summit destination. A very unique mountain that is composed entirely of granite which is unique for Vancouver Island. Seldom visited and we were the 4th summit part of the year. 

Heavy fog (low cloud) and some rain impaired our view of the entire climb but still a beautiful mountain traverse that I will be back to enjoy again.

Ruth Masters Lake via Paradise Meadows – Strathcona Park

A solo hike overnight to enjoy the solitude of the remote Ruth Masters lake along the Augerpoint trail. I did this hike as an out and back via the Paradise Meadows trailhead at Mt Washington. 

Total distance was 41 kms with a cumulative 2562 meters elevation gain. Interestingly I was able to do the hike out at the exact same length of time as it took to get to the lake, 6.5 hours each way.

The trails systems beyond Circlet Lake are considered a route and not maintained by BC Parks. Know the weather, know the route, leave a safety plan and pack the right gear. Also, this is pristine wild backcountry, make sure you practice Leave No Trace ethics preserving the beauty of Strathcona Provincial park.

Route details on my Viewranger account Click Here

Flower Ridge to Bedwell Lake Traverse – Strathcona Park

After some planning and day dreaming of putting this solo route together I finally made it happen. 

I started at the Flower Ridge trailhead and worked my way to the very end of the trail. Here it connects to Price Pass and allows me to work my way up to the Septimus-Rosseau massif of which I traversed around to the east. From there I summited Margaret Peak and then dropped down to the foot of the glacier for my Day 1 camp spot.

On day 2 my first objective was to climb and summit both the west and east Misthorns. After that I traversed the scree field to the Septimus west shoulder dropping down the glacier to Cream Lake. I made quick work of the trail passing Bedwell Lake and then Baby Bedwell Lake arriving back at the trailhead on Jim Mitchell road. From here I hiked down the gravel road to the highway and kept going until I hitch hiked a ride for the final 3km back to my car at Flower Ridge.

The total distance I covered was 43km in 2 days with 3211 metres elevation gain. The actually on trail distance was 34km but I walked 8.6km down the road until I hitched a ride for the final 3.5km back to the car.

Mt Klitsa via Brigade Lakes

After hearing about the beauty of the Brigade Lake trail and also having not yet done Klitsa Mountain I put the wheels in motion. Gathering info from blogs, trip reports and friends I built a proposed route in CalTop and put an overnight plan into motion. Shane was game to come join me to summit the mountain via this alternative route. I wrote a very detailed trip report and how to hike this area here; Hike to Mt Klitsa via Gibson Klitsa Plateau

Maitland Range Ridge Ramble

Exploring lesser know ridges is always fun when you hear of new places to explore and try to discover alpine locations you have never been. The south island corridor between Nanaimo to Tofino is loaded with logging roads leading to all sorts of adventure. My good friend Shane is always up for these kind of trips and we were gifted an incredible sunset and alpine sleep.

Triple Peak SW Ridge

My final alpine overnight backpacking trip was to a favorite mountain of mine that I have written about several times. The funny thing this time I planned to just try and explore the alpine lake on the sw ridge extending from the nortwest summit massif rather than climbing the peak. A great trip with Noah and Shane.

My trip report for climbing the main peak can be found by clicking through to the following link; Climbing Triple Peak Main Summit

2019 in Review – Hiking on Vancouver Island

Thanks for taking the time to share in my experience this past year via my short recaps and images of the top adventures I embarked on. I also wrote 2 how-to posts on the blog this year that were super popular as well as several gear reviews.

I have a few more how-tos and gear reviews on the docket to completed starting in 2020 so be sure to subscribe to the blog to get all the updates.

Backpacking Gear List for 3-5 Day Trip

Easy 3 Day Backpacking Food List

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Thanks ~ Chris #MindfulExplorer

Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Wow… just WOW! That’s a butt-load of amazing pictures in one post. You should consider making a calendar out of these, it would sell.

    Keep ’em coming in 2020 dude!

  • Wow what an INCREDIBLE year of hiking! As if I didn’t want to explore the island already, now you’re REALLY making me excited for a trip out there. I’m sure all of these hikes brought incredible memories and helped clear you mind a ton too. Kiddos to making a goal of getting out more and then crushing it. Looks heavenly.

    • I did many hikes and trips alone this year. It was powerful to be complete void of distractions and even human interaction. I don’t think as a modern society we do this enough as individuals anymore. This times are so key for having the much needed internal dialogues with ourselves.

  • Emily @emilydianeclark says:

    Wow! What a fantastic year of hiking! Really enjoyed reading your blog, it makes me really excited to move back to Vancouver island! Thanks for sharing your adventures!

  • Jenn Joyce says:

    Thanks so much for sharing Chris! So inspiring! From the hikes to the photography… you’re living the dream! 🙂

  • Matt says:

    A beautiful selection of pictures Chris! I love the Flower Ridge/Misthorns/Bedwell lake link, looking forward to an attempt at that in 2020. I’ve put the Kuldahk trail on my list now as well, looks like a truly wild trail to explore. Looking forward to following along with your 2020 adventures.

  • Peggy Taylor says:

    Thanks for sharing photos and comments of your amazing year in the mountains of our beloved Vancouver Island. So fun to see some of the places I have been to in the past and a few I have yet to see. Gives me inspiration and I hope my back will let me get back to some backpacking in 2020. Hope to see you out there sometime!!

  • Wow – these are amazing photos. Vancouver is definitely on our list. My wife is Canadian, but the closest we have been in Banff – need to get there!

    Wishing you the best in 2020.

    • I’ve done a few mountain summits and hikes around Banff and even have one of the mountains tattooed on my arm. The West Coast and especially the island is a rugged and wildly beautiful place. Be sure to put it on your must see destinations list.

  • You’re an inspiration to me in so many ways. What an amazing life you lead, filled with such beauty, freedom, and adventure. Can’t ask for much more than that.

    Every one of your photos is gorgeous. You really have a talent there. Thanks for getting out there and showcasing the gorgeous natural places we all need to know about and work to protect.

    Here’s to another year of exploration!

    • Thanks for takin the time to go through the years worth of images Chrissy. It was hard to believe I did that much looking back as you don’t think you get out much until you actually put it all done. Yes, absolutely beautiful places to visit.

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