The Crest Mountain Trail is a premier trail on north Vancouver Island. It is steep but the views of King’s Peak and Elkhorn Mountain along with the other Island mountains seen from the top make up for it. This is a pretty demanding trail.
It will take you from 3 to 4 hours to reach the top, climbing steeply for most of the way, it’s a great trail. The trail is well-defined and easy to follow, but it is physically demanding due to the steeply ascending terrain. This is a trail that only those in good physical condition should attempt it.
The trail is about 5 km one way and climbs to just over 1300 meters. You access the trail from the Drum Lake pullout. The trail starts at the end of the parking lot. Take the trail that crosses the creek between the drum lakes with a nice wooden bridge. After hiking for about 30 minutes you will reach a log crossing that goes over a flowing creek. This is the last chance for water until you reach the top so fill your water bottles here. The water is awesome.
As you climb, you will begin to see the mountain peaks through the thinning tree cover, it begins to get awesome and if you are like me, you will find your pace increasing a bit in order to get high enough for the great views. Once you near the top, the trail flattens out somewhat, and you can slow your speed in order to enjoy the views. To your right is a nice rock bluff and if you don’t feel like going any further this is a great place to enjoy the views and in fact, the views are a tad better here on the bluffs than on the peak itself.
If you must set your hiking boot on the peak then follow the trail to the little mountain lake and head to the left around it keeping to the trail right beside the water. About halfway down the length of the lake look for a rock cairn to your left. This trail will take you to the peak. From here on in, just follow the rock cairns and you will be on top in no time flat.
Watch for the whiskey jacks and get ready to laugh with joy as they land all over you looking for treats, we like to bring some granola bars or pepperoni up to entice the jays in. They just love the pepperoni. Sometimes you can have quite a few sitting on you.
To get to the trailhead follow highway 28 from Campbell River to Gold River, about 20 minutes past Buttle Lake campground on the right you will see the well-marked trailhead for Crest Mountain at the Drum Lakes pull out.