Flower Ridge

Flower Ridge is one of the best hikes in Strathcona Park and one of my all-time favourites. I have been there several times at different times of the year from June to early October, once as a day hike, once as an overnight backpacking trip and another time as 3 day / 2 night trip. It has a lot going for it with the only downside being the Westmin Mine that is visible from the north end of the ridge.

Surrounded by spectacular mountains at the south end of Buttle Lake, Flower Ridge is a special place that begs to be explored over several days. Although the north end of the ridge can easily be reached as a day hike, you’ll need 2-3 days to have time to explore the entire ridge, soak up the scenery and do it justice. It’s a perfect place to linger, relax, and swim in some tarns.

It’s a bit of slog from the trailhead up to the ridge but the ridge itself is relatively flat with some undulating ups and downs (about 100 m elevation change). Once you get up onto the ridge, the trees thin out and panoramic views open up. You’ll be able to see much of the heart of Strathcona Park, with closeup views of Mt Myra, Mt Septimus, Mt Tom Taylor and more distant views of Mariner Mtn, Moyeha and even the Golden Hinde.

ACCESS

Drive to Campbell River. Turn west onto Hwy 28, and follow it for 48 km until you reach the junction with Westmin Rd, turn left onto Westmin Rd and follow it for 30 kms until you see the trailhead parking lot on the left (signed “Flower Ridge Trail”). Park here and cross the road bridge to find the signed trailhead is on the left.

TRAIL

From the parking lot, cross over the road bridge to find the signed trailhead on your left. The trail climbs through forest above a noisy creek. The trail leaves the creek behind and begins climbing until you reach viewpoint that a partial view of Buttle Lake (1:15 / 2.7 km / +348 m gain). 20 minutes later you will encounter a small creek in the forest. This is the last reliable water source until you reach the ridge (another 1:45 from here), so top up your water bottle because it will be a few hours to the next water source and the ascent is sweaty work. About 25 minutes later you will come to a decent viewpoint of the south end of Buttle Lake, Moyeha Mtn, and the eyesore of the Westmin mine. This is a good place for break. From here the trail gets steeper and harder for an hour until you reach a tarn near the treeline (3:00 / 5.4 / +961 m gain). The views begin to open up and the trail becomes easier. 25 minutes from the cairn is a decent campsite (3:40 / 6.3 km / +1005 m gain) but it lacks great views, so I recommend pushing on for 45 minutes to reach the north end of the ridge (4:30 / 7.8 km / +1181 m gain), where there are spectacular views and a convenient tarn. The campsite is just after the rocky knob on the last hill. Once you reach the knob, the views explode. The campsite is fairly rocky but there are some nice flat spots near the steep cliff on the left (east). There is room for 3-4 four medium sized tents. There is a small tarn in a depression right beside the campsite that serves as a convenient water source. This is a great place to camp and use as base for exploring the rest of the ridge the next day. There are no toilets or bear caches on the ridge. There are many suitable camping spots further south along the ridge but the north end has the best view.

From the north end of the ridge, it’s a 2:30-3:00 hours to the south end of the ridge along good trails. The ridge undulates with a few drops and climbs up to 100m and is dotted with many tarns, some which are great swimming holes. At the south end, there is a great close up view of Mt. Septimus and its glaciers, Cream Lake, Nine Peaks and Big Interior Mtn.

 

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