The Bedwell Lakes Trail provides efficient access into the subalpine of Strathcona Park. The out-and-back route to the Bedwell Lakes Campground is approximately 13 km, with the option for a 10 km extension to Cream Lake.
Highlights include a well-engineered and graded approach to the subalpine, excellent lakeside campsites, and some of the best mountain views in the park. Mountaineers can access Mount Tom Taylor and Big Interior Mountain, while hikers can take lots of photos of the peaks from the trails. The Bedwell Lakes are a popular summer destination and can get very busy on the weekends. Plan your trip during a quieter time to make sure you get a tent pad. This is one of our favourite zones in Strathcona Park to practice backpacking skills, and brush up on wilderness navigation techniques.
There are designated backcountry sites located in the Bedwell Trail – Fee Collection Area. Camping fees are applicable from June 15 – September 30. Fees are $10 per person (16 years of age and older) / per night, $5 per child (6-15 years of age) / per night, and children under 6 are free. BC Parks Backcountry Registration System allows you to purchase a backcountry camping permit before leaving home. The system does not reserve a campsite, but eliminates the inconvenience of carrying cash.
The Bedwell Lakes Trailhead is located on Jim Mitchell Lake Road at the south end of Buttle Lake. The last 7 km of Jim Mitchell Lake Road can be rough with loose gravel up a few steep sections. A four-wheel drive or high clearance two-wheel drive vehicle is recommended…and good tires! Google Map
- Bedwell Lakes Trailhead to Cream Lake – July 4-6, 2021
- Bedwell Lakes Trailhead to Cream Lake – June 26-28, 2020
- Bedwell Lakes Trailhead to Bedwell Lakes – March 7-8, 2015
Bedwell Lakes Trailhead to Cream Lake – July 4-6, 2021
- Distance: 22.5 km
- Duration: 3 days
- Peak: 1396 m
- Gain: 1081 m
- Map: CalTopo
I guided four clients on a three-day trip along the Bedwell Lakes Trail in Strathcona Park. Our objectives were to backpack into the Bedwell Lakes core area on day one, hike up to Cream Lake on day two, and head back to the trailhead on day three. Highlights included great weather, good route conditions, epic views, and a team eager to learn wilderness navigation and backpacking skills. Memorable water bodies included the sparkling jewels of Baby Bedwell Lake, Bedwell Lake, Little Jim Lake, and Cream Lake. Famous summit views of Mount Myra, Mount Tom Taylor, Big Interior Mountain, Mount Septimus, and Nine Peaks were appreciated. We even caught a glimpse of Della Falls down the Upper Drinkwater Valley, from the ridge top to Cream Lake. Timing our approach as the Canada Day crowds were heading home was rewarded by a choice selection of five-star tent pads. We had the entire campground to ourselves on night two.
The forecast was for clear skies, no precipitation, warm temperatures, and light NW winds. All three days were crystal clear in the mornings with some convective clouds building in the afternoons. Temperatures ranged from a nighttime low of 12.2ºC at 940 m beside Baby Bedwell Lake, to a daytime high of 31.4ºC at 1300 m in the blazing sun above Little Jim Lake. There was no precipitation and winds were calm to light for the duration of the trip.
- Day 1: 1100 h, Bedwell Lakes Trailhead. Elevation: 555 m, Sky: few, Precipitation: nil, Temperature 13.1ºC, Humidity: 73.6%, Wind: calm. 1330 h, Baby Bedwell Lake Camp. Elevation: 945 m, Sky: few, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 20.2ºC, Humidity: 61.4%, Wind: calm.
- Day 2: 0530 h, Baby Bedwell Lake Camp. Elevation: 945 m, Sky: clear, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 12.1ºC, Humidity: 85.7%, Wind: calm. 1230 h, Cream Lake Viewpoint. Elevation: 1330 m, Sky: scattered clouds, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 22.5°C, Humidity: 43.1%, Wind: moderate NW. 1920 h, Baby Bedwell Lake Camp. Elevation: 945 m, Sky: broken clouds, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 17.4ºC, Humidity: 75.3%, Wind: light SW.
- Day 3, 0730 h, Baby Bedwell Lake Camp. Elevation: 945 m, Sky: clear, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 13.3ºC, Humidity: 86.4%, Wind: calm. 1140 h, Bedwell Lakes Trailhead. Elevation: 555 m, Sky: few, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 18.7ºC, Humidity: 77.7%, Wind: calm.
Data logged with Kestrel Meters Drop D3
Our backpacking route followed the popular Bedwell Lakes Trail from the Jim Mitchell Lake Road trailhead up to Baby Bedwell Lake. The mining road was in rough shape after the long weekend, but doable in a two-wheel drive with attention to maneuvering rutted sections. The dirt road is 7.5 km and 300 m gain from the Westmin Road turnoff. It’s approximately 5 km and 500 m gain from the trailhead to the first camp, and another 1.5 km and 50 m gain to the second camp. Conditions were bone dry and dusty. The trail received recent maintenance as evidenced by the drainage ditches being cleaned out. Beyond Bedwell Lake, the trail switchbacks up the mountainside to Little Jim Lake and enters a subalpine bowl. The route connects to Cream Lake at the base of Mount Septimus. The snow started at 1250 m. Travel was good on a supportive and consolidated snow pack.
- Day 1: Bedwell Lakes Trailhead to Baby Bedwell Lake Camp. Distance: 6.29 km, Duration: 4:38’29, Ascent 455 m, Ascent Time: 2:18’02, Descent: 71 m, Descent Time: 30’14.0. Map
- Day 2: Baby Bedwell Lake Camp to Cream Lake Lookout. Distance: 13.93 km, Duration: 9:15’45, Ascent 726 m, Ascent Time: 2:40’32, Descent: 758 m, Descent Time: 2:36’06. Map
- Day 3: Baby Bedwell Lake Camp to Bedwell Lakes Trailhead. Distance: 5.13 km, Duration: 3:38’15, Ascent: 68 m, Ascent Time: 21’31.0, Descent: 462 m, Descent Time: 2:04’01. Map
Data logged with Suunto 9 Baro
The only bear sign was one pile of scat on Jim Mitchell Lake Road, and a “Bear in Area” warning sign at Baby Bedwell Lake. We spotted no bears or other large mammals. Birds included hermit thrushes, varied thrushes, robins, Pacific wrens, whisky jacks, and hummingbirds. There was a ptarmigan living up on the ridge top to Cream Lake. We noticed many piles of sign, but did not see the ptarmigan. Wildflowers included white dwarf dogwood, vanilla leaf, queens cup, salmonberries, thimbleberries, pink and white heathers, saxifrage, marsh marigold, and moss campion. Bugs were pesky for an hour or so in the mornings and evenings. Bug dope and a head net were handy. Frogs serenaded us through the night.
Exposure to the direct sun in the snow above Little Jim Lake was intense. We wore full sun protection, including brimmed hats, sunglasses, and lots of sunscreen. A couple of us also added sun hoodies and buffs over our faces. Drainages were melting out leaving behind holes that needed to be avoided. Trekking poles were helpful to test the snow. Solid wilderness navigation and route finding skills were beneficial above Little Jim Lake to stay on route.
Bedwell Lakes Trailhead to Cream Lake – June 26-28, 2020
- Distance: 22.8 km
- Duration: 3 days
- Peak: 1396 m
- Gain: 1190 m
- Map: CalTopo
This was my second three-day solo training and reconnaissance mission of the 2020 season. My objectives included: staging and car camping at Buttle Lake Campground, backcountry camping for two nights at Bedwell Lake, day hiking up to Little Jim Lake and Cream Lake, viewing Della Falls from a new lookout, and hiking out to spend a final night car camping at Ralph River Campground. My schedule only allowed for a weekend visit and I was prepared for the crowds. I counted 16 vehicles at the trailhead on the hike in. Luckily, I arrived early enough and managed to get one of the last available tent pads at the Bedwell Lake Campground. I noticed both designated campgrounds were overflowing on the hike out. I counted 45 vehicles at the trailhead. I did not see any litter or fires on this trip. Big thanks to 43K Wilderness Solutions for doing such a fine job managing this section of the park.
The forecast was for cloudy skies and cool temperatures with a clearing trend. The weather on day one included a super-saturated valley bottom fog layer. Anything not sealed would get wet. My tarp over camp collected water and dripped all night. On day two, the views opened up under broken clouds. By day three, the skies were clear and I enjoyed perfect weather.
- Day 1: 1100 h, Bedwell Lakes Trailhead. Elevation: 555 m, Sky: obscured, Precipitation: light rain, Temperature 13.3ºC, Humidity: 100.0%, Wind: calm. 1600 h, Bedwell Lake Camp. Elevation: 935 m, Sky: obscured, Precipitation: light rain, Temperature: 10.2ºC, Humidity: 100.0%, Wind: light S.
- Day 2: 0600 h, Bedwell Lake Camp. Elevation: 935 m, Sky: obscured, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 6.7ºC, Humidity: 100.0%, Wind: light SW. 1300 h, Della Falls Viewpoint. Elevation: 1360 m, Sky: scattered clouds, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 14.0°C, Humidity: 57.8%, Wind: moderate NW. 1700 h, Bedwell Lake Camp. Elevation: 935 m, Sky: broken clouds, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 13.1ºC, Humidity: 60.0%, Wind: light NW.
- Day 3, 0545 h, Bedwell Lake Camp. Elevation: 935 m, Sky: clear, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 6.9ºC, Humidity: 84.0%, Wind: light NW. 1100 h, Bedwell Lakes Trailhead. Elevation: 555 m, Sky: clear, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 11.0ºC, Humidity: 72.8%, Wind: calm.
Data logged with Kestrel Meters Drop D3
The Bedwell Lakes Trailhead is 170 m south of the main parking pull off and signage on Jim Mitchell Lake Rd. The first 500 m of trail along the valley bottom is smooth and flat up to the suspension bridge and wooden bridge over Thelwood Creek. The trail quickly turns into a steep hillside with reinforced retaining walls and switchbacks. The trail was mostly clear, with a few snowy patches beginning at the top of the ridge before Baby Bedwell Lake, and along the edge of Bedwell Lake. All of the creeks were easily forded. The many wood structures (bridges, boardwalks, ramps, and stairs) and the mangled mess of roots were very slippery. Mud was prevalent. The route from the Bedwell Lakes Trailhead to Bedwell Lake is easy to follow. The section from Bedwell Lake to Little Jim Lake and beyond to Cream Lake requires wilderness navigation skills. Snow patches were encountered above Bedwell Lake, with solid snow above Little Jim Lake at 1230 m. There were many rock islands drying through the snowpack of three meters deep in places. The ground was dry on the ridge top at the Cream Lake Lookout and Della Falls Viewpoint. Fine views opened up towards Flower Ridge and partially frozen Cream Lake. Mount Septimus remained obscured, while Nine Peaks and Big Interior were visible under broken clouds. The hike out was much drier with improved route conditions and less mud.
- Day 1: Bedwell Lakes Trailhead to Bedwell Lake Camp. Distance: 6.54 km, Duration: 3:11’01, Ascent 549 m, Ascent Time: 1:52’40, Descent: 178 m, Descent Time: 43’33.0. Map
- Day 2: Bedwell Lake Camp to Cream Lake Lookout. Distance: 5.35 km, Duration: 3:05’35, Ascent 484 m, Ascent Time: 1:42’36, Descent: 84 m, Descent Time: 19’40.0. Map Cream Lake Lookout to Bedwell Lake Camp. Distance: 5.13 km, Duration: 2:21’39, Ascent 81 m, Ascent Time: 20’32.0, Descent: 489 m, Descent Time: 1:30’24. Map
- Day 3: Bedwell Lake Camp to Bedwell Lakes Trailhead. Distance: 6.03 km, Duration: 2:52’37, Ascent: 176 m, Ascent Time: 39’45.0, Descent: 578 m, Descent Time: 1:36’46. Map
Data logged with Suunto 9 Baro
No mega fauna sign or viewings. Bird viewing included hummingbirds, varied thrushes, hermit thrushes, and whiskey jacks. Some ptarmigan sign in the snow above Little Jim Lake. Lots of slugs in the forest. The most interesting wildlife experience were the 100’s of frogs serenading from dusk to dawn in the ponds above Bedwell Lake. Two frogs in the pond next to my tent pad kept me awake all night with their croaking. Bring earplugs for the frogs.
Hazards included very slippery wooden structures, roots, and rocks on the approach. Post-holing in the snow above and along the edge of Little Jim Lake. Some of the snow bridges above creek drainages looked like they were about to melt through soon. Pay attention to your map and terrain to avoid a sudden and potentially painful drop down into a creek bottom.
Bedwell Lakes Trailhead to Bedwell Lakes – March 7-8, 2015
- Distance: 12 km
- Duration: 2 days
- Peak: 1010 m
- Gain: 450 m
Two weeks after a fantastic winter overnighter on Jack’s Trail, we were ready for another adventure! The Bedwell Lakes Trail was the perfect trip. This was a new hike for us, plus we had good information that the tent pads were clear of snow. The trail was much gentler than our last trip and we enjoyed the well-engineered access to the subalpine. Along the way, views of Mount Tom Taylor and Big Interior Mountain were spectacular. We couldn’t believe the sunny skies, warm air, and scant snow. We will return again to add a day-trip to Cream Lake for a glimpse of Mount Septimus and Nine Peaks. Except for a couple of fellows who passed through on their way down from the mountains, we had the entire camp to ourselves.