The Elk River is a very pretty little river located just outside Gold River, the fishing is awesome, and the wildlife viewing is out of this world. Then there is the elk river trail, one of the highlights of the North Island.
The start of the elk river trail is located just a few miles from Gold River and is a very pleasant and popular trail through a forested valley with some very big trees, the trail is suitable for family hikes. Seasoned hikers with light packs can make a return trip up to landslide lake in a day. The trail was once an old elk trail that has been improved over the years. The trail has been cleared nicely up to the gravel flats at landslide lake and upper river flats. It is now quite a good trail and the hazardous log crossings at butterwort.
volcano and puzzle creeks have been replaced by sturdy bridges built by the Island mountain ramblers in conjunction with BC Parks. Awesome job guys.
Due to the popularity of this trail, BC Parks has built campsites in areas that can take the impact along with pit toilets. It is about a 3-hour hike for a hiker with full overnight gear to the butterwort creek gravel bar, and about 6 hours to the gravel flats at landslide lake.
Elk river trail is accessed via Highway 28 to Gold River. From the bridge at the buttle narrows, drive about 23 km on Highway 28, and find the sign to the elk river trail, just before Drum Lakes. Driving time from Campbell River is about 1 hour. Follow the signs to the start of the trail. BC Parks has relocated the start of the trail and also built a new parking lot. The new trail creates an additional climb and descent that is not appreciated by hikers just starting out with heavy packs. The original trail start is located closer to the river. Ask at some outdoor stores in Campbell River about the old starting point and save yourself a steep climb and descend.
When I was a young man, we could get to Marble meadows on this trail, but I am not sure if that is possible now, and I don’t really remember the route anymore, it was mostly following game trails though. The hike took us through some awesome forests and was full of wildlife.
When I was just a lad of 15 years, a friend and l were hired by elk river timber at camp ten to help remove logs that the fellers had dropped into the river, between the two of us, we weighed about 180 lbs. We were so light that we could run on the logs with ease. We were hired as one man as the two of us together were about the weight of one man. We split a paycheck. We were called “the kids” by the other loggers. This was just about the time that buffer zones were being implemented and put into place around watercourses to help protect streams and rivers. Logging in those days was pretty destructive. Still is.
It is nice to see that this area has returned to such a great state and that it is full of wildlife and happy hikers. The elk river is full of rainbow trout, dolly varden, and cutthroats and is a fly-fishing-only river, It is all wild fish and all catch and release. The rainbows here are mostly smaller, but the cutthroat and dollies can be really big.