Strathcona Park Boundary – Pearl Lake – Mt. Adrian – Rogers Ridge – Lupin Trails
This last part of VIT Section 4 is across private forest lands managed by Mosaic. Consultation is ongoing regarding the final agreed trail location and its official opening awaits a land use agreement.
Northwest of the Strathcona Park boundary, soon after passing a pair of small tarns, the wide-open ridge merges (at about 1350 m elevation) with an unusually dry subalpine forest of mountain hemlock and shore pine with a groundcover of heathers. After another kilometer through increasingly dense and increasingly brushy forest, the route emerges into a recent cutblock, and soon follows down an old skidtrail to join a logging road (OR-258) that switchbacks down the valley floor of the upper Oyster River just north of Norm Lake.
Head south on Oyster River Main for about 2 km, turning across the valley just south of the infrequently glimpsed Norm Lake (stay right at the one road junction, roads to Gem Lake area) to follow recently active logging roads towards Pearl Lake (across the valley floor, bear right up a steep grade). At 1.9 km, bear right to the end of a short spur road. Single-track trail continues right off the end of the spur, through 100 m of brushy regeneration/cutblock to a leave-strip of forest along the upper Oyster River. Immediately drop down to cross the river on a log and continue upstream within the riparian reserve, swinging away from the river as you hear the rush of turbulent water over rapids/small falls. The next section crosses over the valley floor just east of Pearl Lake, across some chaotic topography – a complex of knolls and depressions and huge scattered boulders. This unusual landform is the deposit of a major rockslide (a Hope Slide-sized rockslide) that likely occurred soon after deglaciation some 10,000 years ago. Pearl Lake was impounded by the slide – its highly irregular shape and its many small islands and shallows also result from this major slide event.
Watch for a side trail to a point jutting out into the east end of lake where you can find Glen’s cabin. Glen welcomes you to stay overnight, providing you leave it as you found it. Past the cabin side trail, the main trail continues over the hummocky rockslide terrain before crossing over an alluvial fan with noticeably tall, productive forest. You next climb up the north side of the valley, largely in a recent cutblock to cross the end of a spur road and go by an interesting tooth-shaped boulder projecting above the slope. From here the route soon leaves the cutblock to follow a mostly open, linear bedrock ridge that leads to the steep, rocky terrain overlooking the north side of Pearl Lake. Soon after reaching the high point with superb views across the turquoise blue waters of Pearl Lake, the route angles steeply downhill across a 70% colluvial slope above a small, rather long pond in a linear depression. Following this depression takes you to the end of another spur road that has been buried with mounds of excess excavated soil materials (planted).
A series of logging roads through extensive recent clearcuts with young regeneration leads into a side valley south of Mt. Adrian and west of Mt. Alexandra (at road junctions, go right, left, straight past side roads 4 times, bear left then bear right). This series of roads ends about halfway up the valley. Follow a rough skidtrail/backspar trail off the road end up the east side of the creek that links two roads (see Map 4). Once back onto a road, go left across a creek and follow rough roads uphill around 5 switchbacks to the road-end.
From the end of road to near Mt. Adrian is a steep climb across rocky terrain, merely a route (some flagging) rather than a trail, and so requires your own route-finding. There is a small lake part way up not far from a cell-tower – good for drinking water or a cool dip (steep scramble over open rock to get to it). The ridge becomes more defined closer to Mt. Adrian. Hikers find it best to traverse below the ridge more or less at the tree-line for most of this section. The ridge proper provides great vistas but attaining it and the actual summit of Mt. Adrian is optional.
Northwards, the ridge curves around the head of Adrian Creek. About 2 km NW of Adrian, a serious band of cliffs has prevented several hikers from continuing north, despite a reportedly ‘easy ramp’ to get down there. This barrier is now circumvented by a marked, partially cleared, safer route (the ‘end-run’) around the west end of the cliff band. This involves:
- heading WNW from the Adrian ridge about 400 m south of the cliffs and staying below the open rock within patchy subalpine vegetation for about 700 m to the head of a major bedrock cleft in the ridge (a gully of sorts) at N49° 46.067′ W125° 33.266′.
- In 2019, hikers North & Grubs found their way down this gully and thence across the open talus slope below. This involves finding a way through a labyrinth of truck-sized boulders a quarter of the way down – this is no easy feat, especially with a backpack, definitely not for the faint of heart – only very experienced, strong hikers or those with climbing ability should use this route.
- If this route is judged too challenging/dangerous for you, continue NW on the ‘end-run’ and follow a flagged and marked route down semi-open rocky terrain with steep sections and short drops/steps until you get into more continuous forest. This entire section provides superb views up and down Buttle Lake and across to Strathcona Park, including Wolf River, Marble Meadows, Mt. McBride and the environs of the Golden Hinde, Vancouver Island’s highest peak.
- Once into the forest below a section of open rock, watch for trail markers that will direct you around to the NE into a side valley immediately north of the cliffs. The now well-defined trail contours across a steep sidehill, then after an opening goes steeply back upslope to cross a perennial creek that flows underground (audible) through blocky talus from two small lakes in this side valley .
- Cross the creek, continue to the lower lake and pick up a cleared and marked trail towards the upper lake, which provides views of the bouldery talus accumulated from numerous rockfalls from the failing cliffs above. Cross the outlet creek at the north end of the lake to the beginning of the climb up to Rogers Ridge.
- To climb up to Rogers Ridge, initially take advantage of a couple of benches that lead to a long, fairly steep heather meadow and thence into more and more open rock up to the height-of-land of Rogers Ridge. At this point, you will see the rounded summit of Mt. Beadnell less than a km to the north. A couple of ponds provide water on the way up.
After attaining the height-of-land, you will have views to the east over Beadnell Lake and several smaller lakes of diverse colors. Continuing northwards more or less on the ridge are intermittent sections of defined trail through patches of heathers. The existing Roger’s Ridge trail (route) eventually descends to the west of and below Mt. Beadnell with a more and more defined trail tread that goes to/by what is known as the Mt. Adrian A-frame cabin. North of the cabin, stay on the well-defined trail for about 0.8 km as far as a signpost indicating the ridge route to Lupin Mtn. (Do not take the trail straight ahead at this point. It is the regular day-access to Roger’s Ridge originating at roads in the upper Granite Creek valley).
The ‘Lupin Trail’ stretches 10 km from the above junction/signpost to the Granite Main logging road near Upper Quinsam Lake. Several orange trail markers lead from the junction towards the ridge, although you do have to cross a brushy, forested swale (unmarked as yet) before attaining the rocky ridge. Once onto the ridge (rather complicated terrain with numerous rocky knolls and flats/depressions with many tarns/small lakes) make your way (not marked) more or less along the height-of-land towards Lupin Mtn. The Lupin Mtn. summit is unremarkable, without any viewpoint and so not worth searching out. The route passes through a small valley and along the west side of a small, shallow lake between the slightly higher west and the east summit of Lupin Mtn. This lake is impounded by an accumulation of organic matter derived from decomposed, formerly floating debris blown down the lake by prevailing southerly winds, an intriguing process seen elsewhere along the VIT. From the north end of the lake, a marked route initially swings NE to pick up the spine of the main north-trending ridge. The upper ridge is mostly heather meadow, becoming more and more forested as you lose elevation heading north. In the typically blueberry-thick montane forest, the trail is brushed out and marked with the usual fluorescent orange trail markers. The trail eventually drops down to a much lower elevation via an old brushed-in logging road with several switchbacks and thence onto Granite Main.
Upper Quinsam Lake to Strathcona Dam
Follow Granite Main past its junction with Hawkins Main (go right) on down across the bridge over Sihun Creek. Trail that starts just across the bridge is now roughed in almost entirely within or adjacent to riparian reserves to just past the BC Hydro diversion dam on Quinsam River. The initial section of trail from the road down to near Upper Quinsam Lake is located atop deposits resulting from past debris flows down Sihun Creek, through young pioneering (early seral) forests characterized by a lack of stumps and coarse woody debris. Closer to the lake, are good examples of redcedars (now stumps) that were buried by thick layers of silt at the toe of the debris torrent deposits. Once near the lake shoreline, single-track trail continues along and set-back from the east shore of Upper Quinsam Lake and along a stretch of the Quinsam River N of Wokas Lake, apart from a section of logging road north of Willington Point campsite where it is located right on Upper Quinsam Lake and a stretch of inactive road along the east side of Wokas Lake (initially giving access to campsites along Wokas Lake. About a kilometer of beach is used during lower summer water levels along part of Upper Quinsam. Just north of the beach section, the trail passes through a seasonally inundated site with an unusual stand of coastal trembling aspen. At the north end of the trail along Quinsam River, you must wade the river just downstream of the BC Hydro diversion dam and soon thereafter follow a service road alongside the diversion flume to the main logging road – go west (left) at this point and bear right to the road to a campsite on Gooseneck Lake. Past the campsite turn-off, continue along logging roads to intersect the Gold River Highway (hikers often use Hwy 28 to access facilities and re-supply in Campbell River) . Campsites operated by Mosaic can be found along the Upper Quinsam Lake trail and on the east side of Wokas Lake. Cross directly over Hwy 28 (from GRH-700 onto GRH-690) and after only 60 m, go left onto a new trail through recent (2021-22) cutblocks. This trail links to yet another logging road, thence through another small 2022 cutblock and again back onto trail through second-growth forest atop a steep slope above Highway 28. At the bottom of a hill the trail turns away from the highway to follow a small creek flanked by red alder to a recently re-opened section of logging road to the Elk Main logging road. Jog left 50 m and cross over the road, then down by way of a steep fillslope to an additional 300 m of trail taking you to the Strathcona Dam Road. Go right and follow it to and across the Strathcona Dam that impounds Upper Campbell Lake.