Posted by: karlrobinstevenson | July 3, 2015

Bedwell Trail 2015 Update

Dear People

Sometime, either late in 2014, or early in 2015, someone brushed out and remarked the Bedwell Centennial Trail. It’s now in good shape and should be easy to follow by people in reasonably good condition with a reasonable amount of trail smarts.

The Comox District Mountaineering Club (CDMC) website has a good map and a link to the original trail guide I wrote a few years ago. My original guide has some photos and maps as well. Go to ROUTES, then BIG MAP, then click on the red “B” at the head of Bedwell Sound. I could see no names of creeks, etc., on this map, but many names can be seen on the maps which are found by clicking on the link to my original trail guide.

Some things have changed in the few years since the guide was first written, mostly due to our drastically warming climate. For instance, there is absolutely no snow on the “Snow Slide” of the original guide, and Ashwood Creek is bone dry, so no camping.  Water and campsites are available on the Bedwell River close by.

To get there, follow the old logging road to where it used to cross the river, just upstream from where Ashwood Creek flows (or used to flow) into the Bedwell.  There are some usable campsites on the river, and some on the old road bed.  To regain the Centennial Trail, go back a short distance (a few minutes) on the old road to the well marked turn-off where the trail takes an overgrown branch road to cross Ashwood Creek and head up into the Notch.

From the place where it crosses the river, the old logging road stays on the opposite bank until it crosses back at the Living Bridge (soon to collapse into the Bedwell like all the other logging bridges which have long since been eaten by the river, along with much of the old road) further downstream.  The Bedwell Centennial Trail avoids expensive and problematic bridges by staying on the same side of the river all the way from Bedwell lake to the park boundary, only crossing the river a short distance from the ocean.

Please remember that the Bedwell Centennial Trail was built as a protest against the planned commercial exploitation of the Bedwell Valley by Clayoquot Wilderness Resort (CWR) as allowed by BC Parks.  Commercial exploitation isn’t new to the Bedwell Valley.  BC Parks opened the valley to clear cut logging in the 1960s, and then dumped it from the park in 1987, saying it had “low park value” because it had been logged. They were forced to return the Bedwell to the park after the Strathcona Blockade of 1988, in which 64 people were arrested.

Several years ago, when CWR started petitioning the government to be allowed to build a horse trail into the valley for their clients, the government began claiming that it was necessary to allow CWR into the park to build a trail.

To show that it wasn’t necessary, the Bedwell Centennial Trail was built by volunteers. The trail has been in use by hikers ever since.  Meanwhile, the government never deviated from its goal, and eventually CWR received a Park Use Permit, but the scheme of moving a dude ranch operation into a west coast rainforest valley in a provincial park seems harebrained at best, so we’ll see.

In a sense, using the trail is a political act.   The very existence of the non-commercial, low-impact Bedwell Centennial Trail shows that commercial exploitation isn’t needed or wanted by non-commercial users of Strathcona Park.

Unfortunately, the trail goes through obvious evidence of past commercial exploitation. Massive stumps are all that remain of the beautiful ancient forests in this once pristine valley. But the valley is slowly regaining its wild nature and the river removes more evidence of human destruction every year.

A taste of what the valley was once like can be experienced in several places on the Centennial Trail, most notably in the area of “the Notch”. The hike up into the Notch from Ashwood Creek is, unfortunately, through old logging slash, made more difficult by logs cut and left to rot by logging companies, but the hike down from the Notch to Sundew lake is entirely different.

For some reason, this area wasn’t “harvested”, so it’s possible to experience what the whole valley was like before BC Parks opened it to logging.  The huge Firs, Cedars, and Hemlocks still stand here, just as they’ve been standing for centuries, unmolested and unexploited.  They stand silently, filling the space around them with the unexplainable, timeless aura of wild places.  For many people, this is the most memorable part of their hike.

To me, this is what parks are about, not commercial exploitation.

I’ll finish this update by saying that I believe we could eliminate almost all of the most intrusive and harmful uses of our parks if we followed one very simple rule: FOOT TRAVEL ONLY.  I believe this rule should be followed in the Bedwell Valley.

I wish you happy hiking. If you have any questions, ask away, I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks, Karl.



  1. I want to say Thank you very much for this site and all the information you have all provided ! It is extremely helpful !! I will hiking the trail sometime in Sept or early October and post an update! Again, Thank you.

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