Crest Mountain N Aspect
Crest Mountain is a comparative rarity in Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. An easy peak with an engineered trail directly off pavement almost all the way to a friendly flat summit. What makes it worthwhile is the incomparable camping on a wide open alpine plateau with all of Strathcona’s highest peaks in uninterrupted and jaw-dropping view just a few kilometers to the south. A night up here in such alpine splendour should be considered an obligatory experience for anyone who considers themselves an Island alpine afficionado.
Crest is also used as the approach to higher, more demanding summits to the north such as Heber, Judson, Isardi and Big Den, although no trail exists to these objectives once past the summit of Crest.
Vancouver Island can be reached directly by air from, amongst other places Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Seattle and San Francisco to Victoria and by ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria on The Coho and on BC Ferries from Vancouver to Victoria or Nanaimo. Public transport on the Island is relatively poor and anyone arriving by air would be advised to rent a car. Access in this case is all on paved roads and, therefore, fine with a normal sedan. From Campbell River, at the end of the Island Highway 19, take highway 28 west towards Gold River. After approximately 30 km the road meets Upper Campbell Lake and after 40 km you will enter Strathcona Park at Elk Portal. 1 Km Further on highway 28 makes a right turn over the bridge at Buttle Narrows. Take this turn in the direction of Gold River and drive 27 km to the Crest Mountain trail head on the right.
RouteTake the well signed and engineered Class 1 trail from the parking lot, across the bridge over Drum Narrows and up the mountain. Water is available just under half way up and then not until the alpine. Reckon on about 2-3 hours – depending on pack weight - up the switchbacks to the alpine at a large tarn and then a further 0.5-1 hour northwest on use-trail, or just follow your nose, to the large flat summit and cairn.
Crest Mountain Trail
Big Den Mountain
North Strathcona Peaks
Crest Mountain Summit
Red TapeYou are outside the core area of Strathcona Park and there are no fees to pay. BC Parks does not operate an intentions system, so there is no book to fill in. Make sure, therefore, that you have left a detailed trip plan with someone responsible. Parks and the appropriate SAR agency will respond in an emergency but it is up to you to initiate the process.
CampingPretty well anywhere you like with flat ground and a handy water source.
Crest Mountain Camp
Boil or treat your water since giardia is very well documented on Vancouver Island. Practice scrupulous backcountry camping methods: keep your kitchen area and tent free of food scraps and hang all food well away from your tent at night to discourage critters. Light no fires if at all possible and if you really must, remove all traces of it before your leave.
Victoria and Warden Peaks from Crest Mountain
Crest Mountain Summit View NNW
Crest Mountain Summit View S
Useful LinksBeyond Nootka – A Historical Perspective of Vancouver Island Mountains, Lindsay Elms, Misthorn Press, ISBN 0-919537-29-4 and/or visit http://members.shaw.ca/beyondnootka/
Island Alpine – A Guide to The Mountains of Strathcona Park and Vancouver Island, Philip Stone, Wild Isle Publications, 2003, ISBN 0-9680766-5-3 and/or visit www.wildisle.ca/publications
Strathcona Provincial Park
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