Continued from Part 1…..

Gold River and Upana Caves.

After Strathcona, we hit the road to gold river, the Hwy 28 cuts through the middle of Strathcona park and you are not short of some incredible views driving through it really is one of my favorite places in Vancouver Island.

Upana Caves

Shortly we hit Gold River a small town where you can stock up on gas, supplies, Wi-Fi and beer. After doing just that, we continued on towards Tahsis to stop off at the Upana Caves, if you are in the area, these are definitely worth a visit. They are easy to access and don’t require skills to have a rummage around in them, obviously make sure you have someone with you and wear the necessary protective gear.

The caves range from large and easy to get through, to some more challenging and tighter squeezes. There are maps at the site to help guide you through the Caves but remember to know your own limits if you are going to go in.

Woss Lake

From here we drove down the road to Tahsis, it is a continual mixture of gravel road and bits of paved road thrown in, it is quite an active road for industrial vehicles, so please watch you speed and respect larger vehicles.

Tahsis is a small community – from here you have access to a number of other caving sites for the more experienced.

You can also access the trail head that leads into Woss lake provincial park from here.

We then turned around and headed back towards gold river, but instead of taking the right-hand road at the junction we continued on towards Muchalat Lake, there are sign posts along this road and we followed the signs for Woss.

I had planned to check out a campground along the way and then overnight at Woss Lake Campground.

We pulled into Vernon Lake Rec site around 17:30 and as soon as we got out the car at one of the sites, Maverick our border collie, ran and jumped straight in the lake, so we allowed him to make the final call and decided to pitch up at Vernon Lake instead for night.

Vernon Lake Recreation Site: Is very rustic, with pretty dilapidated pit toilets and little shade on the campgrounds, but it does have about 15 lake fronted spots with little mini-private beaches, fire-rings and gorgeous views. So overall, I actually quite liked it.

 

The next morning, because I was freezing and Roxy was awake at 5:00- we were on the road by 6:30 and heading to Woss Lake, we decided to take a drive down the lake and up one of the side logging roads to a spectacular view across the Lake with a great spot for camping. Awesome hidden find – let us know if you fancy the coordinates.

 

From here we walked along an old logging road to the border of Woss Lake Provincial Park, along the way we found some fairly recent bear scat but despite scouting around, no sign of the wee little things.

Woss Lake Campground: Is again, very rustic like Vernon Lake, but has a lot more shade, I would say it’s probably the better spot over Vernon Lake if you are looking for a place to stay for the night.

Schoen Lake Provincial park

Our last stop along this little trip was Schoen Lake Provincial park

Schoen Lake is located off the Hwy 19, from Woss Lake you follow the signs for the Hwy and turn right onto it, back towards Campbell River.

Shortly you turn right off the Hwy 19 again and follow the signs for Cain Ski Hill and Schoen Lake, the road will eventually fork with Cain Ski to the left and Schoen Lake Provincial Park to the right.

The campground is well kept and there are a number of sites located on the water front, there is a beautiful beach and swimming area. If you wanted to do some trail hikes though, you would probably need to drive to one of the trailheads located on the other side of the park. But overall definitely worth a visit.

If you need any advise on road conditions or journey times – please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Our latest trip takes us through Campbell river, Sayward Forest, Strathcona Park, Gold river, Tahsis, Woss Lake and Schoen Lake. The weather was gorgeous, the views spectacular and we went scouting for bears.

Our first stop was Campbell River, a large town 265kms north of Victoria.

Victoria → Campbell River

Take the Highway 1 north towards Nanaimo, you then have 2x options you can either take the direct route, Highway 19 north which bypasses all the towns on the way or the scenic route – the Highway 19A which winds along the coast. If you have time, personally I would take the 19A the best way to Overland is by seeing the sights.

There is plenty to do in and around Campbell river, but make sure to budget the time to spend a few hours in the town itself. There are plenty of options to choose from;

  • Kick back and enjoy the culinary delights of a number of fantastic restaurants overlooking the ocean.
  • Take sip of some of the local craft beer.
  • Campbell River is also a great option for taking a Wildlife or Whale watching tour.
  • Cycle Tours
  • Kayak Tours
  • Elk Fall Provincial Park

Sayward Forest

After Campbell River, we headed north continuing up the Hwy 19 before turning off into the Sayward forest area.

This area is great for exploring, there are tons of little lakes and forests and tracks that we could have easily spent weeks exploring.

This area is also home to the Sayward Forest Canoe Loop, which is a great loop paddle through 12 different lakes and approx. 7-8kms portage. You get to experience some of the calm pristine areas that can only be seen from water whilst making your way at your own pace. For more information get in touch.

The gorgeous beach of Brewster Lake

Our first stop was Cedar Lake Rec Site– A small little campsite, the tight road getting to it means it often rules out big rigs camping there. It is very rustic, but all sites have a picnic bench and fire-ring, and most are water fronted with the most spectacular views.

There are a number of great and free recreation sites around this area, so you have plenty to choose from if this one is full- if you want a list of our favourite lake campgrounds on Vancouver Island – please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

From here we continued our way slowly through the Sayward Forest and then decided to loop around and through the Snowden Demonstration Forest.

Snowden Demonstration Forest

This area is fantastic for Mountain Bikers on Vancouver Island. You have a range of trails to choose from that suit both beginners and more advanced along with a number of hiking options. You could camp at a number of sites along the Lower Campbell Lake – (Loveland Bay, Burnt Beach rec site etc) and then bike into the forest and spend the day exploring. Finishing off with a cool dip in the lake and an ice cold beer.

 

After Snowden Forest we followed Campbell Lake Main Forest Service Road along the lake before turning off and driving towards Strathcona dam and then joining Hwy 28.

See our Mountain Bike tour for potential tour options.

Strathcona Provincial Park

After we drive into Strathcona Provincial park and turn off Hwy 28 onto Westmin Road following Buttle Lake. Tonight’s campground is Ralph River.

Ralph River campground is a well-kept site – the water comes from hand-pumped water wells and also comes with garbage disposal and pit-toilets. Ralph River is one of a couple of options the other driving accessible site is Buttle Lake Campground. Both are reservable, but book up fast.

From here you have a number of day hike options.

A great little morning hike that we recommend is the Bedwell Lake Trail, this is awesome if you just want a casual hike with some stunning scenery – from Ralph River Campground continue down the Westmin Road, at the end of the lake there is a gravel road called Jim Mitchel Lake Road, turn left down here and follow the road, enjoying the spectacular views of the mountains as you do so. There is a small parking area to the right and the trail head is just down the road from here.

The hike has some pretty steep sections, but the trail is very well maintained, I recommend taking a picnic up with you and enjoying the surrounds for a bit before making the return journey back down.

……To be continued in Part 2

Part 2...

 

With so many campsites to choose from on Vancouver Island its hard to narrow it down, so we have diligently visited as many as possible, these are our Top 5 lakeside campgrounds on Vancouver Island.

  1. Brewster Lake – We like this site because of its gorgeous beach, like most of the best hidden rec sites, you can’t reserve them so get there early, but on a warm summers day this beach and lake make for the perfect spot to hang out. It has a combination of shaded woodland campsites and waterfront sites. This is a large site with around 30+ pitches, compost toilets and no showers.
  2. Cedar lake – I think this has come up on a number of my lists and I still love it. Its really small with only a few sites available, but it has a great combination of forest and lakefront and because its small its never over crowded – but you also run the risk of not getting a site. However another great benefit is that there are loads of back up options within a short drive so you are never completely left high and dry.
  3. Pye Lake – Located off the Hwy 19 roughly under 2 hours north of Campbell River this beautiful lake has 4x options for camping so you should be able to snag yourself a spot and it is great for Kayaking. (1) Pye Lake Rec Site (2) Pye Bay Rec Site (3) Pye Pt Rec Site and (4) Pye Beach Rec Site.
  4. Schoen Lake – Roughly a 30-45 Minute drive off the Hwy 19 just south of Woss it is a gorgeous small site with a large protected provincial park around it – there are only a handful of water front site but the forest sites are just as relaxing and it has a large beach to enjoy to water from.
  5. Sproat Lake – Just 15 minutes from Port Alberni and you can reach one of the campgrounds this is a favoured lake for swimming, fishing and water skiing.

Don’t forget to follow the ‘Leave no trace’ camping rules. 

Leave only footprints – Take only memories

Take only memories – leave only footprints.