If you’re up for a little fall or winter exploration but want to stick to official, well-maintained trails, there’s a ‘barrier-free’ wilderness trail and boardwalk on Vancouver Island that you’ll want to check out. And it’s located in the oldest park in BC!
Strathcona Provincial Park (open year-round) happens to be the birthplace of the provincial park system in BC, so it’s fitting that it is also home to one of the first easily accessible sub-alpine areas.
Paradise Meadows & Centennial Trail
After nearly 14 years of dedicated volunteer work, the park’s Wilderness Centre in Paradise Meadows and Centennial Trail loop were completed back in 2010, making the park accessible to everyone.
Today, the parking lot is hard-packed gravel, but leads to a paved sidewalk at the Paradise Meadows trailhead at the base of Mount Washington. From here, visitors can commence a 2 km-long hike along the Centennial Trail loop, or venture to the Forbidden Plateau.
The former consists of both boardwalk and hard-packed gravel sections and no steps, making the meadows accessible to standard wheelchairs and power chairs alike. In fact, BC Parks has even provided two wheelchairs equipped with “free-wheel” attachments for visitors to borrow during their visit.
The Wilderness Centre is two floors and completely wheelchair accessible, according to BC Parks. Note that there is a fully accessible outhouse and indoor washroom here, but no outhouses along the trail.
Ready to chase some frozen waterfalls during the colder months? Strathcona Park is also home to Della Falls, which has a drop of 440 metres over three cascades. So while the waterfall in its entirety might not freeze, certain parts have certainly been known to freeze over.
Note that the Paradise Meadows parking lot will be closed for the winter, so visitors are advised to use the larger Mount Washington, Nordic (Raven) Lodge Parking Lot.
Finally, visitors should check current trail conditions before arrival, particularly during snow cover season.
So there you have it, winter hiking enthusiasts! You don’t have to venture into the backcountry for a solid wintertime adventure.
Where: Strathcona Provincial Park, BC