If you're a nature enthusiast or an avid hiker, Vancouver Island offers an abundance of breathtaking landscapes and outdoor activities to explore. We're embarking on an unforgettable overnight hike to Bedwell Lake in Strathcona Provincial Park, one of the island's hidden gems. This journey promises stunning alpine scenery, crystal-clear waters, and a sense of serenity that only the great outdoors can provide. So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your camping gear, and join us on this incredible adventure.
Bedwell Lake is nestled within Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island's largest provincial park. It's a natural wonderland that encompasses over 250,000 hectares of pristine wilderness, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The park boasts diverse ecosystems, from lush rainforests to rugged alpine terrains, and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Preparation and Planning
Before embarking on any hiking adventure, especially an overnight one, thorough preparation is essential. Here are some key steps to ensure your trip to Bedwell Lake is safe and enjoyable:
Research the trail, its length, and difficulty level. Bedwell Lake is a moderate 10 km (6.2 miles) out-and-back hike, taking approximately 5-7 hours total.
Permits and Regulations
You will need to pay for a camping spot at Bedwell Lake. You can fill out a short form and leave the $10 fee in the envelope provided at the trailhead. Remember to follow all park regulations and Leave No Trace principles.
Pack lightweight, durable camping gear, including a mid-layer and a good shell jacket. Even in summer, there can be showers. Bedwell Lake has a bear-safe food cache so you won’t need bear canisters to store your food safely. Most importantly, don’t forget your Bather swimwear for a refreshing dip in the lake!
Carry a map, compass, or GPS device, even if you're using a smartphone app like All Trails. Cell service can be unreliable in the wilderness.
The first kilometre is relatively flat, allowing you to ease into your hike. Along the way, keep an eye out for vibrant flora and the occasional banana slug. The park is teeming with life, and it's not uncommon to spot black bears and various bird species.
As you continue, the path becomes steeper and rockier, challenging your stamina and determination. Here, the trail is punctuated by several pristine streams and waterfalls, offering opportunities to replenish your water supply and cool off. Remember to use a water purification method to avoid any potential contaminants.
At around the halfway point, you'll encounter Baby Bedwell Falls, a magnificent, 25-meter (82-foot) waterfall. The sound of rushing water, the spray on your face, and the lush green surroundings create a memorable pitstop for a snack and some rest.
Once past the falls, the terrain becomes even more rugged, and you'll gain elevation more rapidly. However, the effort is well worth it. As you ascend, you'll catch glimpses of Buttle Lake below, framed by the towering peaks of Strathcona Provincial Park. The sight is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Arriving at Bedwell Lake
After a couple of hours of hiking, you'll finally reach Bedwell Lake. The pristine, turquoise waters are surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of mountains. It's an idyllic setting for a well-earned rest and some jaw-dropping photo opportunities. The lake's cool waters are refreshing for a quick swim, so be sure to pack your Bather swimsuit.
The campsites around Bedwell Lake are in high demand, so it's essential to reserve them in advance. These designated camping areas are well-maintained, featuring flat tent pads and an outhouse. There's no electricity or running water, so be prepared to be entirely self-sufficient.
Leave No Trace
In every wilderness adventure, preserving the natural environment is of the utmost importance.
Adhere to the Leave No Trace principles:
- Carry out all trash and waste.
- Use established trails and campsites.
- Keep noise levels to a minimum to respect the tranquillity of the wilderness.
- Avoid picking plants or disturbing wildlife.
- Follow campfire regulations and use a camp stove for cooking.
By following these principles, you help protect the beauty of Bedwell Lake and ensure it remains a pristine wilderness destination for generations to come.
Hiking to Bedwell Lake on Vancouver Island is an excellent adventure that combines the joy of the journey with the beauty of the destination. The hike takes you through a stunning old-growth forest, past a mesmerizing waterfall, and eventually to the crystal-clear waters of Bedwell Lake, surrounded by awe-inspiring mountain vistas. This is a trek that offers both a physical challenge and a soul-soothing escape into the natural world.
Whether you're an experienced backpacker or a novice hiker looking for an introduction to overnight adventures, Bedwell Lake has something to offer. Its pristine beauty, diverse flora and fauna, and opportunities for exploration make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a true wilderness experience on Vancouver Island.
Saman Rezapour is a Vancouver-based photographer & chronic adventurer.