Strathcona Park Lodge is an outdoor playground with hiking trails, rock climbing bluffs, old growth trees, high and low rope courses, zip lines, mountain biking, dozens of boats in all shapes and sizes and more. During the summer the lake is warm enough for swimming and on a hot day the sandy swimming bay is the busiest place on property. The sprawling property has plenty of quiet places and impressive viewpoints to discover and, facing west, one of the best sunset views on Vancouver Island.
Oh The Places We Go
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Strathcona Lodge is perfectly positioned for exploring further afield. Overnight and multi-day kayak and canoe trips leave right from our Waterfront Centre down Upper Campbell Lake, Buttle Lake or across to the Elk River Delta. The Brewster Lake Canoe Circuit is a short drive away. Trailheads to overnight and longer backpack trips into the Island Mountains are a 20 minute drive. Crest Creek Crags’ excellent and beginner friendly rock climbing cliffs are just down the road. Whitewater paddling programs take place in Campbell River and Gold River, 40 minutes away. Lastly, Nootka Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island is only two hours away for sea kayaking adventures.
Kickstart your visit with a creative mix of games, group challenges, obstacles and low ropes course elements designed to start the week laughing, learning and getting to know one another. Our instructors have a large repertoire of activities that will challenge any group.
High Ropes Course
Hidden in a stand of towering old growth trees is Strathcona’s high ropes course. Grasp at ropes, traverse a wobbly bridge, walk a narrow wire, unlock the mind and body puzzle of the Ninja Crossing, all while safely tethered to an overhead line.
Act like Tarzan: Fly through the trees on our two zip lines. Each is slightly different, taking advantage of the geography and trees, but both include a whizzing flight through the forest safely attached to a wire. Scream, hang on tight or let go and feel the wind – it’s an exhilarating experience no one should miss. Letting go and giving it a try is the highlight for many visitors to Strathcona Park Lodge.
Ever wonder what it’s like 20 metres up in a tree? This is your chance to find out. Giant staples have been pinned into the bark of huge Douglas fir trees (don’t worry, they don’t hurt the tree). Using the staples as a ladder you’ll climb the tree with a rope and harness to keep you safe. The birds eye view from the top is one of a kind.
All your worries and thoughts will evaporate the moment you grip the rock on one of our three climbing bluffs. Every muscle, nerve and tendon will focus on getting you to the top of the cliff face. Fear will be pushed to a far corner knowing your guide will catch any slip or fall with the top rope. When you get to the top stop and enjoy the view across Upper Campbell Lake before stepping off the cliff on rappel. The climbs are mostly easy or moderate, suitable for beginner to intermediate climbers.
It’s never too wet or dark to climb outdoors when you’ve got a roof over your head! The covered rock wall located at the Barn is a great option as a warmup area, for days when it is just too wet to use the natural climbing bluffs or for an after dinner bouldering session. It is also a perfect spot to learn to belay so you’re ready to hold the rope on your next climbing adventure.
Paddle-PFD-Kayak? Let’s go! From nimble whitewater play boats to stable sea kayaks, we’ve got a lot of kayaks. You don’t need any prior experience in a kayak to have a blast in one. We think one of the best ways to learn is by doing and a kayak is a good teacher – games like Piano Keys and Kayak Soccer will keep you laughing while the Kayak Slide will test your courage.
A classic Canadian skill, learning to paddle and control a canoe is something everyone should know how to do. After learning the basics on land, learn to launch the boats and practise strokes in the calm waters inside our log boom. Once comfortable in the boats some groups may venture down the lake to Treasure Island or Swan Bay.
Hiking & Bog Walk
In 60 years of living here we’ve had plenty of time to find the best spots nearby: a fascinating bog, incredible viewpoints and challenging climbs. Taken one at a time or all the trails together and you’ve got a fantastic, varied and scenic day hike.
Build a fire with your hands, construct a warm shelter, make rope from cedar bark and walk in the dark. Many of our instructors are trained and interested in wilderness survival skills and they’re happy to share their expertise.
The essential skills of navigation are not well known, but are easy to learn. Groups can learn how to read a topographic map, navigate to points on a map, run an orienteering course and locate themselves on Earth in one lesson with our experienced instructors. Advanced courses can cover compass navigation and triangulation.
If going to a camp with your friends is fun, then camping out with them is even more fun. One or two nights camped by the side of the lake, cooking over a fire or camp stove and sleeping under a tarp or the starry sky is often the highlight of the trip. Need we say s’more?
These programs take advantage of the wealth of adventures, ranging from sea to sky, just a short drive away. Taking place mostly away from Strathcona Park Lodge they focus on one particular activity and afford more opportunities for learning specific skills or completing an expedition. Specialty programs are typically offered for students in grades 9-12 and are often part of a progression for schools that bring students in consecutive grades.
Specialty programs are staffed with two SPL instructors and do not require a chaperone. The guide to participant ratio for specialty programs is 2:10. An adult chaperone must be included in the 10 participants if your organization requires and adult on the trip.
Sea Kayaking Specialty Program
Explore beautiful Nootka Sound the “Birthplace of British Columbia” in a sea kayak. This is where Captain James Cook first landed and made contact with the First Nations people of the West Coast. Listen to great stories about the history of this place and prepare yourself for breathtaking wildlife encounters from wolf to bear and the big humpback whale. Includes two or three nights camping
Rock Climbing Specialty Program (aka Rock Camp)
Three days taking a glimpse into the world of rock climbing. After a good first day of learning all the basics such as harness and helmet fitting, belay practice, equipment and a bit of technique, enjoy the rest of the week and explore different climbs around our local crags. Improve your climbing skills every day and get your adrenalin going and rappel down a 20 meter rock face. Relax at base camp in the evenings with a good meal and ease into the night with stories, songs and games around a warming camp fire. Includes two or three nights camping.
White-water Kayaking Specialty Program
Enter the world of white water kayaking. Spend one day learning and practicing all your skills on Upper Campbell Lake right at the Lodge. Find the right boat for yourself, get used to it in a safe environment and get prepared to spend full days on our local rapids on the Campbell River with your competent white water kayaking guides. In times of rest enjoy the beautiful scenery and watching the salmon travel up the river. Includes two nights camping.
White-water Canoeing Specialty Program
Enter the world of white-water canoeing. Spend one day learning and practicing all your skills on Upper Campbell Lake right at the Lodge. Find the right boat for yourself, get used to it in a safe environment and get prepared to spend full days on our local rapids on the Campbell River with your competent whitewater guides. In times of rest enjoy the beautiful scenery and watching the salmon travel up the river. Includes two nights camping.
Caving Specialty Program
You will be introduced to caving in a graduated approach, starting with a very easy, short cave, progressing to more challenging underground environments. Walk, crawl, squeeze and slither your way through underground caverns and keep a careful eye open for delicate cave features. Some caves are approached with a short canoe paddle and hike. Includes two nights camping.
Ocean Canoeing Specialty Program
The ocean canoeing program starts its journey in the Mutchalat Inlet close to Gold River on the West Coast. From here we travel into the narrow inlet towards Matchlee Bay with a great view on to the rugged mountains of Vancouver Island. Humpback whales, sea lions and seals come into this inlet to feed and rest, so don‘t be surprised if a group of sea lions is chasing a school of fish right around you. Where fresh water meets salt water we travel up the Burman River. In the fall different species of salmon make their way up the river and a lot of black bears feast on them all along the river. Enjoy camping on a wide gravel bar, observing fish go by and bears fishing or go for an adventure up river to get even further into the backcountry of Strathcona. Includes two nights camping.
Hiking Specialty Program
Get up and out into the stunning mountains or beautiful valleys of Strathcona Park, the oldest Provincial Park in BC. Pack your 10 essentials into your pack, carry all you need for the week on your back and live a simple life. There is lots to learn about our local flora and fauna, how to make your backpack feel comfortable and how to avoid blisters. See a variety of ecosystems, walk through old growth forest, meander over into alpine meadows, scramble over rocky ridges and cross snowfields. Includes two or three nights camping.
Primitive Skills Specialty Program
Paddle away from the lodge to a wilderness campsite where you’re more likely to see elk or bear tracks than you are other people’s. Camp along the river and learn to build primitive shelters, try your hand at lighting a fire with flint and steel or the bow drill, weave cedar bark and see what edibles you can find in the wild. Learn to appreciate living a simple life without modern conveniences for a few days. Includes two nights camping.
Brewster (Sayward Forest) Canoe Route
This is one of our most challenging trips and worth the effort! The Sayward Canoe Route is a circuit route of 11 lakes, approximately 40 km in length and includes about 7 km of portages. It is the real Canadian canoe experience! Depending on how much time there is and how strong your group is, full or half circuits can be done. Really learn how to navigate your two or three seat canoe along these lakes and challenge yourself portaging (or wheeling) your canoe through different trail systems connecting the lakes. Camp on quiet lakes in spots you can only get to by boat, and wake up to the loon’s call. Includes two or three nights camping.
Buttle Lake Canoe Journey
This is a wonderful journey from the very tip of Buttle Lake back to Strathcona Park Lodge. You will get dropped off with your boats and all the belongings you will need for your trip and start making your way up Buttle Lake. Enjoy a great group experience paddling the big tethered voyagers. Camp along the shore of Buttle and Campbell Lakes and have a good time spending the evening around a fire with your friends. Includes two nights camping.
“There is nothing, absolutely nothing, quite so worthwhile as simply messing about on bicycles.” (Tom Kunich) With amazing trails nearby and endless logging roads to explore, it was only natural to include mountain biking in our repertoire. Learn basic skills, test your balance and bike control on wooden stunts, ride the pump track and explore the trails. Our mountain biking specialty programs include either a backroad touring or singletrack trail option. Includes one or two nights camping.