SUBLIME HIKING IN BC’S OLDEST PROVINCIAL PARK
Strathcona Provincial Park, designated in 1911, is the oldest provincial park in British Columbia. Located almost in the centre of Vancouver Island, Strathcona Park is a rugged mountain wilderness comprising more than 250,000 hectares. Mountain peaks – some perpetually mantled with snow – dominate the park. Lakes and alpine tarns dot a landscape laced with rivers, creeks and streams. Summer in Strathcona is usually pleasantly warm, while winters are fairly mild except for the higher levels, where heavy snowfalls are the norm. From November through March, snowfalls can be expected on the mountain slopes and alpine plateaus. Snow remains all year on the mountain peaks and may linger into July even at moderate elevations. Summer evenings, as elsewhere in the coastal regions of B.C., can be cool and rain can be expected at any time of the year.
To discover more about the trails and current conditions in Strathcona, please click here.
MOUNT WASHINGTON ALPINE RESORT
Simply put, Mount Washington Alpine Resort is Vancouver Island’s snow magnet! Canada’s deepest all-natural snowpack can be found here, where 11 metres of the fluffy white stuff pile up each winter. Bordering Strathcona Provincial Park, BC’s oldest park, and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the resort is an enviable position geographically. Unparalleled views exist from the top of the mountain, with the green Comox Valley down below and the blue waters of Georgia Strait in the background.
With year-round operations, the mountain provides a plentiful mix of tree skiing, chutes, alpine bowls, terrain parks and intermediate cruisers which cater to the region’s skiers and boarders in winter. Mount Washington is also home to the Raven Lodge, the flagship facility for one of North America’s finest cross-country skiing destinations. In summer, the Eagle’s Flight ZipTour, a mountain Bike Park, stunning scenic chairlift rides and dining options make for an unforgettable day with views that are simply out of this world!
From shopping to hosting major events all year, Mount Washington Alpine Resort really does offer it all and the resort community surrounding the mountain operation shares a keen passion for alpine outdoor recreation.
To see hours of operations, facilities, activity bookings and more, visit MountWashington.ca.
VANCOUVER ISLAND MARMOT: The Vancouver Island marmot is one of the rarest species in the world, listed as Endangered and found only on Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island marmots are easy to recognize by their rich chocolate brown fur with contrasting white patches on their nose, chin, forehead and chest. They live on the south and west-facing slopes of alpine meadows usually above 1000m. Keep an eye out for marmots on the slopes of Mount Washington in the summer months only – they hibernate from mid-September until late April or early May! Hibernation helps these furry creatures survive the alpine winters when food is not readily available.
VANCOUVER ISLAND BLACK BEAR: Black bears can be found across Vancouver Island. The Vancouver Island population is generally blacker and slightly larger than those found on the mainland. Black bears are omnivores and will eat just about anything that is available to them; berries, insects, nuts and grasses, meat like deer and elk are all on the menu! In BC especially, bears will gorge on spawning salmon in late summer and autumn as they prepare for winter hibernation. If you spot one on Mount Washington you can be assured it is a black bear – there are currently no grizzly bears on Vancouver Island.
BLACK-TAILED DEER: The deer of Vancouver Island are a subspecies of mule deer found along the coast from northern California up into British Columbia. Black tailed deer are very common on the Island and are regular visitors to the resort and Mount Washington Village.
ROOSEVELT ELK: Once widespread throughout southern British Columbia, the vast majority of BC’s Roosevelt elk now live exclusively on Vancouver Island. The largest of the elk family, the Roosevelt elk can reach 500kg at maturity, and live for approximately 12-15 years. They migrate locally, moving to lower browsing sites as the winter approaches, and heading upwards into subalpine areas with young, seasonal growth in the late spring. The Roosevelt elk graze on grasses & new shoots during the warm months, and browse small woody plants in the winter.
GRAY JAY or WHISKEY JACK: On the slopes of Mount Washington, the Gray Jay is more commonly called the Whiskey Jack, and can be spotted year-round flitting through the trees to perch on railings and roofs in search of a snack. These cheerful little birds are fearless and their venturesome behaviour both amuses and (sometimes) annoys visitors to the alpine. Caution: please don’t feed the wildlife! If you must, proper bird seed can be purchased in the Alpine Lodge at the resort.
A complete guide with information on flowering plants and trees to be found in the Mount Washington area is available on the Strathcona Wilderness Institute website.