by Chris Millikan
A two-night stay up on the Forbidden Plateau outside Comox, B.C. results in three rewarding day hikes.
A day trip from our Coastal Trek Resort takes us to Strathcona, British Columbia’s first Provincial Park. Driving to the trailhead, guide Mike recounts a local legend. “Long ago, Comox warriors hid their women and children in this forested haven while battling another tribe. Upon their return, they’d vanished. Because algae tinted the snow blood red, they thought evil spirits had harmed them…so this area became taboo and hence, Forbidden Plateau.”
Just past Mt. Washington’s ski lifts and chalets, we arrive at the kiosk where the trail begins. Hiking boots laced, backpacks shouldered and walking sticks looped around our wrists, we head for Paradise Meadows. Feeling like seasoned hikers, we stride along winding boardwalks, sighting sub-alpine evergreens, burbling mountain streams and reflective ponds. Carpets of pink heather and clusters of maroon shooting stars, dwarf dogwoods, marsh marigolds and yellow alpine buttercups bloom profusely under clear blue skies.
Mike points out an alternate trail, “That one extends along Strathcona’s steeper eastern edge. I sometimes lead interested…and fit…guests back to the lodge on that 26-kilometer route.” I gasp at the thought…
Over a forested hill we descend alongside a string of pristine lakes and savor snacks along one rocky shore; later, we devour wholesome lunches overlooking Battleship Lake. Our wondrous 10-kilometer hike ends with us feeling weary…but triumphant.
More Day Trips from Comox
Another day trip from the resort involves hiking on Hornby Island, beginning at Helliwell Park. Trekking through a beautiful stand of old-growth Douglas fir forest, we emerge onto its rocky southern shoreline, ascend onto spectacular black sedimentary bluffs offering sweeping ocean panoramas and return inland through wind-shaped shore pines, gnarly Gary oaks and amber arbutus, a five-kilometer loop.
We picnic among driftwood logs facing Tribune Bay’s white sand beach. Bald eagles, turkey vultures and a rare osprey swoop above. After visiting naturally sculpted Heron Rocks and hiking a portion of Shingle Spit Trail, we return to the lodge.
And the next morning, we stop to hike into Nymph Falls on the Puntledge River. Birdsongs and wildflowers throughout this second growth forest sooth. At the roaring river’s edge, two locals tell us the fish ladders help salmon swim upstream on the stairway of ledges. One remarks, “Come back in October or November, when ya’ can watch ’em fight their way up…”
Long Loop Trail leads us back to the car…feeling in better shape from these varied island day hikes.
When You Go:
- For planning your day trip activities, www.comox-valley-tourism.ca
- Accommodations & fitness program details, www.coastaltrekresort.com
About the Author:
Chris Millikan is a freelance writer/photographer living near Vancouver, BC. As a former teacher and elementary school principal, Chris now presents articles as an inviting ‘curriculum’ depicting the joys of travel. Many BC community newspapers, Open Road Driver Magazine and Senior Living Magazine regularly publish her articles; In-flight Magazines, the Vancouver Sun and Province have also featured her stories. As BC Association of Travel Writers Vice President, she supports colleagues’ aspirations. And traveling off the beaten track with writer/photographer partner and hubby Rick, their published tales reflect great adventures. Their 2009 Kalama Award acknowledged an array of their stories reflecting the rich culture of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.