Strathcona Gap – in progress

Vispine logoThe so-called Strathcona Gap in the Vancouver Island Trail extends from the north boundary of Strathcona Provincial Park to the Strathcona Dam just north of the Gold River Highway 28, across private forest lands managed by Mosaic Forest Management.

Completing this section is contingent on reaching agreements with the land owners.  To this end, VITA is currently negotiating a co-operative arrangement with the land owners with the support of Strathcona Regional District.  Both hikers voting with their feet and Mosaic have indicated a preference for a higher elevation trail route rather than the lower elevation route that utilized a lot of existing logging road.  This year (2020), VITA volunteers are undertaking recce (reconnaissance) work to better define, rough in and map the higher elevation trail route, which is described below.

The  route leaves Strathcona Provincial Park (at N49° 42.690′ W125° 25.707′) on the ridge that extends NW from Mt. Jutland  at a point where the ridge is quite broad.  Continuing NW, the ridge narrows considerably as it turns more to the north and enters subalpine forest.  The ridge steepens as the forest becomes more dense, eventually dropping down to a recent cutblock and logging road (expect thicker blueberry shrub; a  future trail will be cleared through here).

Once on the road, follow it down a series of switch-backs to the valley floor about 1.5 km north of Norm Lake.  Just south of Norm Lake, go right at a road junction and follow recently active logging roads past the south side of Pearl Lake (eventually a trail is planned higher up on the north side of the lake). A short side trip takes you to Glen’s cabin where you are welcome to stay overnight – please leave it as you found it.  Past Pearl Lake, continue NW on the logging road and go right at a junction 2.5 km NW of Pearl Lake to follow a road into a side valley.  About half way up the valley, follow a skidtrail/backspar trail up the east side of the creek to link up two roads (see Map 4).  Once onto the road that crosses the creek (bridge may be out?) follow it uphill around 5 switch-backs to its end.

Head NNW, initially through a logged area and then into moderately steep, rocky terrain up to near the height of land – this is reportedly a flagged route.  There is a small lake part way up for drinking water or a cool down (steep scramble up rock just below this).  Follow along to the NW just below Mt. Adrian (or go over the summit); the divide becoming more or less south-north.  2 km NW of Adrian, a serious band of cliffs bars the way  – this has prevented some hikers from continuing north.  Another hiking group found their way by here by down-climbing into a gully and working their way down across rubbly talus.  There is reportedly an easy ramp to get by here but it is difficult/impossible(?) to see from above (an on-ground look at this area is planned for later summer, 2020 – before you try this, contact for the latest information).

Once past this apparent choke point, you will soon pick up the existing Roger’s Ridge Trail that follows the height of land northwards through some beautiful subalpine parkland terrain/vegetation.  A somewhat lower trail to the west goes by the Mt. Adrian cabin.  North of the cabin, get on and stay on the trail that follows the height of land (do not take either of the two trails that drop down to roads in the upper Granite Creek valley – the regular access to Roger’s Ridge).  From the north end of existing trail, work is currently (July 2020) underway to locate, mark and clear trail as necessary further north over and beyond Lupin Mtn.  This route joins an old brushed-in logging road that eventually drops down to lower elevations on Granite Main near/above Upper Quinsam Lake.

Trail is planned along the east shores of Upper Quinsam and Wokas lakes, a stretch of the Quinsam River, and past Gooseneck Lake to intersect Highway 28 (Gold River Hwy).  This will be a new light trail almost entirely within or adjacent to riparian reserves along a mix of lakes and streams.  In the Spring of 2020, trail was roughed in for most of the distance between the Sihun Creek bridge (on Granite Main) and the Willington Point campsite on Upper Quinsam Lake, using a kilometer of beach along the lake during lower summer water levels(?)  Until this trail is completed, the hiker can follow a series of logging roads between Upper Quinsam Lake and the highway (you will have to bush-whack/route-find in one short section between the Quinsam Main road system and a logging road that joins the Gold River Hwy.  In the short term, from this point the highway and Strathcona Dam Road can be used to get to the Strathcona Dam.  BC Hydro has a campsite along the river just below the dam (used largely by vehicle campers, but with some nice walk-in spots  for backpackers).

Here is a GPS file in gpx format.  It is not derived from on-the-ground tracks along most of the road sections (these taken off satellite imagery, so the profile shown below is of no use):