The Bedwell Lake area of Strathcona Park is a beautiful area to explore. It can be a good day hike, or used as a base camp for many great destinations in the area. Options include Mt. Tom Taylor, Mt. Septimus, Big Interior, and a route down the Bedwell Valley to the Pacific. The trail is very well built, and the campsites offer a chance to camp among some amazing scenery.
I did this hike in mid-July 2013 with my wife and our 5-month old puppy. We had clear skies, warm temperatures, and a full moon. After driving to the trailhead Friday night and sleeping in the box of the truck, we got started on the trail by about 8am on Saturday morning.
The trail begins by winding through some nice old-growth forest, and soon there are 2 large bridges to cross before starting up steep switchbacks. There are some large boulders on this steep forested slope, and at one point the trail winds through a large gap between two of them. After some more elevation gain you will start to catch glimpses of Mt. Myra if you turn around to look down the Thelwood Creek Valley behind you. After another few bridge crossings the trail begins to get steep again, with a number of wooden staircases. Shortly after a steep, metal staircase the trail begins to level out as you begin to approach Baby Bedwell.
Baby Bedwell is a nice little lake with a selection of campsites, all with a great view overlooking the lake and Mt. Tom Taylor in behind. You can either camp here or continue along the east shore of the lake, where the trail climbs up a series of steep metal staircases up to a viewpoint overlooking Bedwell Lake. This spot gives you an amazing panorama of the area, with Big Interior to the left, Bedwell in the middle, and Mt. Tom Taylor to the right. The trail then descends down to the lake and follows the east shoreline to the campsite at the south end of the lake.
After setting up camp and having lunch, we went for a swim to cool off before heading up to Cream Lake for the afternoon. The trail climbs upwards, parallel to a river flowing down to Bedwell from Little Jim Lake. You then arrive at a nice waterfall, which you must scramble up the left hand side of to reach Little Jim Lake, which will either be frozen over or the clearest water you’ve ever seen. From the lake, you get your first view of Mt. Septimus to the East, which will be your bearing for the rest of the hike to Cream Lake. After traversing the north shore of Little Jim, you begin to climb up to Drinkwater Pass. From here, you get a good look at Nine Peaks and even the top part of Della Falls. A little bit farther along the trail and you will see Cream Lake below, sitting right at the base of Mt. Septimus. In the background you can see Flower Ridge along the skyline.
Cream Lake is a beautiful green colour, and is a great place to backcountry camp. There is a large boulder with an overhang that would nicely fit a tent under it. From here, it is possible to link up with the old Price Creek trail, which follows Price Creek down to Buttle Lake. This route is no longer maintained, and the connection between Cream Lake and Price Creek is steep, with a route that is not well marked. It would also be possible to continue up and over Septimus and down to Love Lake, to complete a Buttle Lake to Great Central Lake traverse via the Della Falls trail.
After a break at Cream Lake we reversed our tracks back to Bedwell for another swim and dinner. Then we had some gin and tonics while watching the sun go down behind Mt. Tom Taylor and the full moon rise over Big Interior. We talked to other groups of campers who were doing similar excursions in the area before heading to bed.