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article imagePhoto Essay: Hiking Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island Special

By Elizabeth Parker     Aug 19, 2013 in Travel
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the oldest Provincial Park in British Columbia, surrounded by the Vancouver Island Mountains, where nature has been conserved for all to view with accessible trails, maps and parking.
The beauty of Strathcona Provincial Park is fully accessible for all to enjoy. What better time of year than when the summer finally cools to make hiking an enjoyable way to pass the time?
A 3 hour drive from Victoria, or 1.5 hours from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry terminal in Nanaimo, British Columbia, the Paradise Meadows trail head across from the Mount Washington Alpine Resort has several routes available to hike depending on your available time and fitness level. The hiking trails include the fully wheelchair accessible 2 km Centennial Loop completed in 2010, one of the first fully accessible trails in Canada's Provincial parks.
Strathcona Wilderness Institute center at the Paradise Meadows Trail head across from Mount Washingt...
Strathcona Wilderness Institute center at the Paradise Meadows Trail head across from Mount Washington Alpine Area.
When you arrive at the trail head you find the Strathcona Provincial Park Wilderness Center, part of a 14 year effort from volunteers, corporate donations and Mount Washington Alpine Resort's effort in paving the roads and donating land. The center is fully staffed by volunteers who will be happy to answer your questions when open, which is most days between June and October according to the Strathcona Wilderness Institute site.
Looking across the ponds and meadows of the Centennial Loop fully accessible trail at Strathcona Pro...
Looking across the ponds and meadows of the Centennial Loop fully accessible trail at Strathcona Provincial Park to the Mt. Washington condominium accommodations.
If you plan ahead volunteers offer guided hikes of all levels or you can pick up one of the self guided brochures in the Wilderness Institute which includes maps, common vegetation, animals and other facts from the area. Bring water, a lunch and plan at least a day to enjoy the park. Don't count on the store being open for supplies, it is staffed by volunteers so things can happen. The Strathcona Institute keeps two sturdy wheelchairs on hand to loan out. Make sure if you need a wheelchair they will be open when you visit.
Accommodation can be had at Mount Washington for reasonable rates in the off season. Be sure to bring up groceries and supplies with you. Courtney, BC, the closest town, is a 40 minute drive down the mountain.
Tall pine forest along the trail where Centennial Loop joins the Helen Mackenzie Battleship Lake tra...
Tall pine forest along the trail where Centennial Loop joins the Helen Mackenzie Battleship Lake trail in Strathcona Provincial Park.
My photos show the scenery along the Centennial Loop trail, Helen Mackenzie Battle Ship Lake loop and the Paradise Meadows loop. With a restful stop at Lake Helen Mackenzie for lunch, time to feed the friendly gray Jays that followed along the trail and time to stop for photos, this 8 km loop took a relaxing 4.5 hours to complete. Challenge yourself to one of the longer trails and go for a weekend or find a club doing an organized overnight hike and sign up.
Looking across Lake Helen Mackenzie at Mount Elma from the Helen Mackenzie Battleship Lake loop at S...
Looking across Lake Helen Mackenzie at Mount Elma from the Helen Mackenzie Battleship Lake loop at Strathcona Provincial Park.
Looking across Battleship Lake to Mount Washington Alpine Resort from the Helen Mackenzie Battleship...
Looking across Battleship Lake to Mount Washington Alpine Resort from the Helen Mackenzie Battleship lake trail at Strathcona Provincial Park.
A Gray Jay or Whiskey Jack perches on a hand to feed on some seeds from lunch while hiking in Strath...
A Gray Jay or Whiskey Jack perches on a hand to feed on some seeds from lunch while hiking in Strathcona Provincial Park.
Part of the fully accessible Centennial Loop found at the Strathcona Provincial Park  Paradise Meado...
Part of the fully accessible Centennial Loop found at the Strathcona Provincial Park, Paradise Meadows Trail Head as it heads back toward the Strathcona Wildlife Institute parking lot.
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