The Flower Ridge Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Strathcona Park. The historic route extends deep into the Vancouver Island Ranges.
In good weather, hikers enjoy outstanding views of Mount Septimus, Mount Rousseau, Nine Peaks, the Golden Hinde, the Red Pillar, and Mount Myra. The Flower Ridge Trail may be experienced as either a day-hike or as a multi-day backpacking trip. As the name suggests, colourful wildflowers are abundant in late spring and summer. The hiking terrain at the south end of Flower Ridge evolves into more technical routes, leading deeper into the mountains. There are no fees associated with this area and no facilities are provided. There are no pit toilets. All hikers and backpackers must practice Leave No Trace.
The Flower Ridge Trail is accessed from Westmin Road. Ralph River Campground is about 3 km from the Flower Ridge Trailhead and makes an excellent staging area. The trailhead parking area is just north of the road bridge over Henshaw Creek. Google Map
- Flower Ridge Trailhead to Green Lake Viewpoint – August 4-6, 2020
- Flower Ridge Trailhead to Bump 1540 – July 13-15, 2018
Flower Ridge Trailhead to Green Lake Viewpoint – August 4-6, 2020
- Distance: 33.6 km
- Duration: 3 days
- Peak: 1590 m
- Gain: 1840 m
- Route: CalTopo
This trip was a solo three-day backpacking trip along the Flower Ridge Trail in Strathcona Park. My objective was two nights on the ridge with an exploratory day hike towards the headwaters of Price Creek and Henshaw Creek. Highlights included great weather and route conditions, low bug pressure, and spectacular views. The only downside of the trip was the abundance of exposed toilet paper beside one of the popular campsites.
The forecast was for sunny skies on days one and two, and clouds with precipitation on day three. Days one and two were warm, dry, and calm. Day three was foggy and cool, with light precipitation below the clouds.
- Day 1: 0430 h, Flower Ridge Trailhead. Elevation: 240 m, Sky: few clouds, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 14.6ºC, Humidity: 79.1%, Wind: calm. 1200 h, Pond Camp. Elevation: 1385 m, Sky: scattered clouds, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 17.7ºC, Humidity: 54.3%, Wind: calm. 1800 h, Pond Camp. Elevation: 1385 m, Sky: scattered clouds, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 22.7ºC, Humidity: 46.3%, Wind: calm.
- Day 2: 0600 h, Pond Camp. Elevation: 1385 m, Sky: clear, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 9.5ºC, Humidity: 100.0%, Wind: calm. 1200 h, Swim Pond. Elevation: 1360 m, Sky: scattered clouds, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 23.0°C, Humidity: 47.6%, Wind: calm. 1600 h, Pond Camp. Elevation: 1385 m, Sky: broken clouds, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 18.8°C, Humidity: 58.9%, Wind: calm.
- Day 3: 0700 h, Pond Camp. Elevation: 1385 m, Sky: obscured, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 6.4°C, Humidity: 100.0%, Wind: light W. 0900 h, Ridge Tarn. Elevation: 1275 m, Sky: obscured, Precipitation: light rain, Temperature: 8.6°C, Humidity: 100.0%, Wind: calm. 1115 h, Flower Ridge Trailhead. Elevation: 240 m, Sky: broken clouds, Precipitation: nil, Temperature: 13.2ºC, Humidity: 100.0%, Wind: calm.
The Flower Ridge Trail offers efficient access to the subalpine. This old trail has a gentle gradient rising 1100 m over 8 km. The trail meanders up through old growth forest along a series of small ridges and benches. There are a few steeper sections before entering a beautiful open slope of meadows onto the north end of the ridge. Once on Flower Ridge, hikers are rewarded with sweeping views of surrounding mountains and Buttle Lake. A series of bumps dotted with ponds every couple of kilometres offers excellent camping opportunities. I camped at a small pond 200 m east of the mainline. The ridge continues for another four kilometres until reaching a bump at the official end of maintained trail. The backcountry route begins with a worn tread toward the headwaters of Price Creek and Henshaw Creek. I turned around at the viewpoint above Green Lake and did not enter the scrambling terrain.
- Day 1: Flower Ridge Trailhead to Pond Camp. Distance: 8.73 km, Duration: 3:46’21, Ascent 1307 m, Ascent Time: 2:51’18, Descent: 159 m, Descent Time: 26’30.0. Suunto
- Day 2: Pond Camp to Green Lake Viewpoint return. Distance: 15.95 km, Duration: 6:47’09, Ascent 832 m, Ascent Time: 2:51’55, Descent: 831 m, Descent Time: 2:37’53. Suunto
- Day 3: Pond Camp to Flower Ridge Trailhead. Distance: 8.64 km, Duration: 2:59’56, Ascent 97 m, Ascent Time: 22’39.0, Descent: 1253 m, Descent Time: 2:22’27. Suunto
No mega fauna sign. Wildlife viewing was limited to birds and flowers. I avoided a baby grouse that seemed to be alone as it crossed the trail on day two. Mosquitos and black flies were less abundant than my previous trips into the park this summer.
There is not much shade or water available on the upper sections of the Flower Ridge Trail. Sun exposure and dehydration are a concern. Sunglasses, a brimmed hat, sun screen, and frequent water refills at ponds are all mandatory. The terrain at the south end of the ridge becomes complicated and eventually the maintained trail turns into a backcountry route. There is some steep and exposed side-hilling up towards Henshaw Peak.
Flower Ridge Trailhead to Bump 1540 – July 13-15, 2018
- Distance: 33 km
- Duration: 3 days
- Peak: 1529 m
- Gain: 1566 m
- Route: CalTopo
Flower Ridge is an excellent zone to practice map reading, take bearings, and identify famous Strathcona mountain peaks. Our goal was to hike up through the forest to the ridge on the first day and select a nice place to basecamp for two nights. Our second day would be for exploring the ridge, and our last day would be our exit. Environmental conditions were challenging that weekend. It was hot, sunny, and full of thick clouds of mosquitos! The experience was an exercise in persistence and mindset, but the rewards were more than worth it. We practiced managing our body temperature and staying hydrated along with our honing our navigation skills. In the end, we met all our weekend objectives and rewarded ourselves with an invigorating splash in Buttle Lake!
Day 1: Flower Ridge Trailhead to Basecamp
- Distance: 7.5 km
- Duration: 7 h 53 min
- Peak: 1398 m
- Gain: 1175 m
An early start is essential when planning a hike up the Flower Ridge Trail. Our boots were on trail by 0700 h to beat the summer heat and take our time up the steady switchbacks. Our first wildlife sighting was a green frog (species unknown) on the staircase near the trailhead. An abundance of spotted coral root. livened up the forest floor. At 585 m, we took our first break at a lookout bump and pulled out compasses to practice taking bearings. The creek on the forest bench at 725 m was flowing strong and clear. We all had BeFree water filter bottles to be able to drink immediately, plus store water for later. The mosquitos started to bite us at the creek, a foreshadowing of the insect war to come. The nicer lookout at 800 m served as our lunch spot for a longer break. The air grew warmer for our final grind up to the ridge and we started to sweat. A few tarns dotted the terrain after we broke the ridge and hiked south to look for a good camp. There were many spots to choose from, and we selected a great site on a bump next to a flowing creek. There were durable surfaces for the tents and a few tall trees to hang our food. We only saw a few other humans that day and wondered who we would meet further down the ridge. The bugs at dinner were ferocious. We ate quickly then dove for the tents! Sunset was incredible and the night was perfectly clear for stargazing.
Day 2: Basecamp to Bump 1540
- Distance: 11 km
- Duration: 8 h 10 min
- Peak: 1529 m
- Gain: 390 m
We left our camp set up and took the day to explore the entire Flower Ridge. The temperature climbed to the high twenties and low thirties. Sunscreen, brimmed hats, plus long-sleeved shirts were essential. The ground was scorched dry in places, and the tarns began to thin out as we hiked south along the ridge. Flowers bloomed everywhere there was a crack in the rock. Seasonal snow covered patches of ground, enabling us to practice our route-finding skills. The whole zone was spectacular with huge open views of the surrounding mountain peaks. Flower Ridge is a hiker’s dream walk through one of the prettiest areas of Strathcona Park. We made progress all the way to the end of the ridge where the terrain gets steeper and transitions into a mountaineering route. In addition to Mount Septimus, we spied gem-blue Cream Lake. Breaks were taken crouched in the meagre shade of bonsai subalpine trees and shrubs. Looking north on the way back to camp, we were treated with a unique perspective of Mount Albert Edward. Tiny tarns and ice puddles provided us with cold drinking water. The snow melted before our eyes and sun cups dominated. In addition to alpine butterflies, we saw a small flock of baby white-tailed ptarmigans. As the afternoon started to fry our heads, we retreated back to camp to rest, relax, and rehydrate. Dinner was another speedy affair, as the mosquito hour descended upon us with a buzzing cloud. Sitting in our tent mesh gave us comfortable views of the sunset once again. There was plenty of time to read, write, take photos, and just enjoy the evening.
Day 3: Basecamp to Flower Ridge Trailhead
- Distance: 7.5 km
- Duration: 5 h 21 min
- Peak: 1398 m
- Gain: 40 m
Our team seized the day with another early start so we could catch sunrise! The light was yellow and soft as we descended off the ridge. Buttle Lake shimmered over 1000 m below, the blue surface free of waves in the early morning. We took our time going down as we were not in a rush. It pays to be careful descending with a loaded backpack. We revisited the lookout and break spots we enjoyed on our ascent. The creek continued to flow strong with all the snowmelt feeding its clear water. We noticed an explosion of tiger lilies. On the way up to Flower Ridge, the lilies were closed during the cool morning. On the way down, the little orange flowers felt the summer heat and decided to show themselves. The old-growth forest was pleasant and cool after a day in the alpine sun. We all had a few snacks left, and so took a final break at the scenic lookout over Henshaw Falls. We arrived at the trailhead in the early afternoon, giving us all plenty of time to change into clean clothes and drive back home. Some of us found a beach at Buttle Lake and jumped in to wash off the dust. The weekend weather was both perfect and challenging. Bluebird skies meant the best views for navigation school, but also full exposure to the sun. We always embrace environmental challenges because they allow us to practice skills that make us stronger for the next trip.