Hike through Marble Meadows to the Wheaton Hut

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Although not the only location on Vancouver Island with limestone formations, Marble Meadows offers hikers, climbers, botanists, photographers, geologists and palaeontologists a fascinating place to explore. Island hiking and climbing icon, Lindsay Elms, via beyondnootka.com (see this page in its excellent entirety for a history of this area and the wonderful little hut - rare in the Island Alpine - that it houses). Fascinating only begins to describe this region of Strathcona Provincial Park, relatively rarely visited owing to the need - unless going in the "long" way - to access the trailhead by boating across Buttle Lake. It is a must-see that left us stopping at every rounded corner and new view to share some kind of dumbfounded exclamation. To boot, the wildflowers at the time (end of July) were totally off the hook

Though the Meadows can be reached by an alternate (very long) route not requiring a boat, the standard access is had by crossing Buttle Lake from the Augerpoint Day Area parking lot on the Buttle Lake Parkway (turn south towards the Westmin mine at the Buttle Lake bridge, just before the provincial campground). A short paddle almost directly across the lake (be mindful of chop blowing up if crossing in the late afternoon) takes you into the mouth of the Phillips Creek outlet and an excellent campground, should you wish to overnight before hiking in. (Note that the photos above are taken from one of our run-hut-run microadventures meaning we went in light-and-fast one evening, overnighted with minimal gear in the hut and then ran out. It's less that 10km from the campground at Phillips Creek up to the hut so easily done in a day.)

The climb to the meadows, though constantly climbing, is relatively mellow by Island Alpine standards (i.e. you're more or less not going hand-over-hand at any point...ok, maybe at one point). Once you've gained the alpine, with views back down into Buttle Lake and across to the Augerpoint and Mt. Albert Edward regions of the Park, the well-marked trail levels to undulating and the real joy sets in. Take your time, take it all in. But then, if you're planning to stay at the hut, keep your eyes open as the previously very clear trail gets a little thin in places and the little hut itself can be elusive in the rocky depression in which it resides.

The Wheaton Hut is a total gem in and of itself, apart from the stellar surrounding area, and an excellent spot to stay for a couple of days exploring the nearby area rich in day hikes. Or stage here for a longer hike to, e.g. The Golden Hinde (the Island's highest peak).

Key Points:
  • Augerpoint Day Area Parking Lot: 49.679148, -125.541348
  • Phillips Creek Campground: 49.672304, -125.560864

Pack List

  • Hiking boots or trail runners
  • Water treatment (water is plentiful)
  • Seeping bag & pad (tent unnecessary if staying at the hut, though you can't be sure how much company you'll have given there's no booking system, so having a tent with you may prove intelligent
  • Camera
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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Running, Skiing

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

11.8 Miles

Elev. Gain:

4593.2 Feet

Features:

Forest
River
Romantic
Scenic
Swimming Hole
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Added by Rumon Carter

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