Hike to Cruikshank Canyon Lookout

Cruikshank Canyon

The journey to the Cruikshank Canyon lookout is just as spectacular as the destination. Enjoy alpine spring wildflowers, panoramic views, and stunning alpine lakes.

Travelling through pristine sub-alpine terrain, and past endless crystal clear lakes, the trail to the lookout is loaded with awesome scenery. The icing on the cake is reaching the Canyon and enjoying lunch at the lookout, complete with Whiskey Jacks and 180 degree mountain and valley views. If you haven't been to Cruikshank Canyon yet, be sure to add it to the top of your Vancouver Island hiking list.

Beginning at the Paradise Meadows trail head in Strathcona Park, there are two main routes to access the Cruikshank Canyon, with the option of creating a nice big loop and combing both of them. Travelling counter clockwise on this loop, leave the Paradise Meadows boardwalk by taking the trail towards Battleship Lake. The trail climbs gradually but steadily up to Battleship, named for the uniquely shaped islands, seemingly sailing in the centre of the lake. This short 2km hike is a great day hike option for those looking to enjoy a beautiful sub-alpine lake, without an all day adventure. From Battleship, continue on towards Lady Lake, passing the tiny Kooso Lake en route. The trail crosses streams, climbs up and over roots and rocks and dips in and out of the forest providing ever changing scenery along the way. From Lady Lake, travel past Croteau Lake and on to Kwai Lake, a popular overnight destination complete the tent platforms and pit toilets. This is a fantastic spot to base camp for both new back country adventurers and those looking to explore further into Strathcona Park. After following the shores of Kwai Lake, watch for the turn off to the left for Cruikshank Canyon. The lookout is 1.4kms from Kwai Lake and the final stretch of trail is absolutely gorgeous, winding through alpine meadows, streams and lakes. Once you reach the Canyon you will be greeted with endless views and the sounds of the Cruikshank River rushing hundreds of feet below. Don't stand too close to the edge...it is a long way down.

Return the way you came, or complete the loop via Kwai Lake and continue travelling clockwise for a new adventure home. The loop route will take you past even more beautiful alpine lakes including Hairtrigger and the well-known Lake Helen Mackenzie, before returning to the Paradise Meadows trail head. No shortage of swimming opportunities, this area is the perfect summer escape. Backcountry skiiers will enjoy the terrain in winter as well.

Access to the Canyon lookout is via Strathcona Parkway and the Raven Lodge parking area at Mount Washington Ski Resort.

Happy Trails!

Pack List

  • Single day fast packing gear. Or multi-day overnight gear.
  • Satellite communication device - Delorme inReach
  • Food and water for your time planned (and a bit more!) on the trail.
  • Map and compass
  • First Aid/Emergency kit
  • Don't forget your camera!
  • There is no cell coverage in this area of Strathcona Park.
  • Fires are not permitted within Strathcona Provincial Park any time of the year and dogs must be leashed at all times.
  • Giardia is well documented in Strathcona Park- always treat water for drinking.
  • As always, practice the 7 Leave No Trace Principles on your back country adventures in this fragile environment.
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RT Distance 12.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 2854.3 Feet
Activities Camping, Fishing, Photography, Running, Skiing, Swimming, Snowshoeing, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Family Friendly
Picnic Area


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Most amazing view!

I've done this hike a few times and everytime I go, even though the knees are a little sorry on way down its well worth the effort to see the view at the Lookout. Love it!

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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