7 Incredible Backcountry Hikes on Vancouver Island

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Discover BC through the eyes of its locals and visitors. This week, we’re featuring Vancouver Island-based photographer @stasher_bc who is sharing photos of some of his favourite backcountry hiking spots around the island.

A stunning sunset over a rolling mountain landscape.

Mount Arrowsmith lies between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni towering over the popular Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island.  This photo was taken during a beautiful summer morning as the sun rose looking back across the Strait of Georgia and to the mainland of BC in the distance. The truly unique experience with being in the alpine on Vancouver Island is the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean in the distance.”

A rocky landscape and mountain peak under a blue sky.

“The pinnacle for hiking and alpine enthusiasts on Vancouver Island is to successfully hike and summit it’s tallest peak , the Golden Hinde. The trek typically encompasses five days and 60 km (37 mi) of remote rugged terrain to marvel at untouched and seldom visited island alpine.  These remote and pristine destinations enforce the need to practice Leave No Trace principles so those that visit in the future experience the same beauty we can see today.”

Hikers traverse a snow-filled landscape.

“With its relatively easy access and countless trail systems and climbing routes, Mount Arrowsmith sets the field for many to develop their alpine skills before tackling larger expeditions. Popular in winter conditions is hiking up the Climbers Trail and climbing what is know as the Snow Gully for mountaineers with the right equipment and experience. Crampons, ice axe, helmet and ropes would be the typical expectations of an experienced climber.”

A man wearing a white helmet stands next to a tent set up in a rocky landscape at sunset.

“To sleep under the stars and wake up to an alpine sunrise among the tallest peaks on Vancouver Islands is a special feeling.  This morning captured the sun rising with Kings Peak and Elkhorn mountains in the distance as we stood at the foot of Colonel Foster which we would spend the next 16 hours climbing. No mountain on the island requires the culmination of a mountaineers tool chest quite like “the Colonel”.

A hiker traverses a snow-covered rocky landscape with snow-capped mountains in the background.

“Located at the end of the Bedwell Lake trail and venturing further down the Cream Lake trail stands the remote beauty of Mount Septimus. In this image a fellow climber makes the final ascent to it’s summit with Mt Rosseau towering in the distance.  This is another fine example of the Strathcona backcountry loved by so many.”

A sweeping, snow-capped mountain range under a clear blue sky.

“Strathcona Park, founded in 1911, is located in the heart of Vancouver Island and is the oldest provincial park in BC.  It contains some of the largest mountains on the island and is home to the countless lakes, rivers, waterfalls and beautiful forests. The view here is looking west towards Elk Pass as we stood on summit of the Golden Hinde, Vancouver Island’s tallest peak.  The region so diverse and untouched that it must be experienced to be fully appreciated.”

A sprawling mountain range and blue sky are reflected in still waters nestled in a lush valley.

“There are many iconic lakes throughout BC but Landslide Lake holds the crown on Vancouver Island. In 1946 an earthquake sheared a massive slab of Mount Colonel Foster and caused a slide crashing down the valley and through the lake. Thus the lake earned its name and the scars of the landslide can still be seen on the mountain and side of the lake.”

About @stasher_bc:

My name is Chris Istace and I call Chemainus, the beautiful world famous mural town on Vancouver Island, home. I occupy my time as a small business owner of a local surf and skate shop, as director of the non-profit Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society and as an active member of the Alpine Club of Canada – Vancouver Island Section. I’m passionate about freelance photography and writing.

I love spending time in the outdoors, exploring remote, seldom seen places and reconnecting with the simplicity of nature. I then try to capture this through photography and writing to inspire others with genuine and authentic content on my website and social media channels. I follow a motto of “Explore Beyond The Usual” in life and nature.

Twitter : @stasher_SK

Web : www.ChrisIstace.com

Facebook : www.facebook.com/mindfulexplorer

Know Before You Go

No matter what outdoor activity you are planning, you must be prepared. Remember to follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials. AdventureSmart is a great resource to get informed before heading outdoors.

Road work and wildfires can affect travel plans during the summer. Check DriveBC and BC Wildfire Service before you go to plan your journey.