Hike Vancouver Island's King's Peak
Rate this Adventure Canada › King's Peak Trail, Strathcona Park, Vancouver Island
Added by Rumon Carter
For those either disbelieving that Vancouver Island has "proper" mountains or looking for an introduction once willing to believe, a trip up King's Peak is a great place to start. The route is a relatively straightforward Vancouver Island classic with steep climbing through jaw-droppingly big beautiful trees, past waterfalls, before breaking into the sub-alpine, transiting through a hanging valley then meadows before ascending into the alpine via Queen's Ridge. Atop the King's summit, with the peaks ringing the Elk River Valley filling both your view and, in all likelihood, your bucket list if this has been your first Island Alpine climb, you'll be left with little doubt that Vancouver Island is a more than worthwhile alpine destination.
- Trailhead coordinates: 49.846798,-125.837419
Our trip, as pictured, was completed as a single-day trail run / hustle. The climb is typically done, however, as a weekend trip with a camp either in the lower meadow, along the ridge leading to the Queen's Face or in the upper cirque.
As for climbs in the Island Alpine, for detailed route descriptions reference Phil Stone’s, guidebook of the same name (at p. 214 for King’s Peak) or his newly-released Island Alpine Select, which goes into greater detail on alpine routes such as King’s Peak.
The trailhead is accessed off Highway 28, west of Campbell River, off the Elk River Timber Co. Road, which leaves the highway 3 km west of Lady Falls. Following a mostly flat/lightly undulating section through the forest, the trail hits a powerline - go right and look to rejoin the well-marked trail on the left a couple hundred metres along the powerline. (We at first somehow missed the massive sign pictured above, hence the goofing expression.) From here the trail climbs steadily then steeply through stands of massive timber, pas waterfalls, before entering a hanging valley just below treeline. Follow the left side of a steep creek up into meadows. At this point options exist to gain the alpine ridge, but those other than the hiker's route are only available to those experienced in glacier travel and, in the case of the gully route, only with sufficient snow / low avalanche hazard. Most hikers will take the appropriately named hiker's route, which travels across the meadows towards lookers right before following flagging into a less exposed gully and up onto the shoulder of Queen's Ridge. For a shorter outing, ending atop Queen's will provide great views. To continue on to King's, traverse around Queen's before following the well-worn route up to the summit. At this point you'll be afforded - in good conditions - stunning views of some of the icons of the Strathona Park high country, including Elkhorn (dominating the view in the first photo above), and Colonel Foster (photo right, just in front of Jennie's face). Careful on the way down the roots back to your car where, hopefully, you left a couple of beers cooling in the river.
For climbers, there are a number of opportunities available - see "Island Alpine" for details.
For a single day:
- Hiking boots or running shoes
- Hydration pack / backpack
- First aid kit
- Emergency clothing
- Sleeping bag
- Seeping pad
- Stove etc.
- Beer left chilling in the river at the trailhead
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
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
Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography, Running, Snowshoeing
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