Mt Wesley as seen from Cameron Lake - Wesley Ridge trail guide by Lonny Barr
- Distance: From one end to the other is about 10km with 750m elevation gain/loss
- Difficulty: Moderate Ė some steep sections on the way up and down the ridge, but the ridge itself is fairly mellow
- Hiking Time: About 6-8 hours from one end to the other. Makes a great day hike. Add an additional hour or two to hike back along the railroad tracks if you donít have a vehicle at each end.
- How to get there: The west end of the trail starts from Cathedral Grove, which is along Highway 4 between Parksville and Port Alberni, just west of Cameron Lake. The east end of the trail starts on the east end of Cameron Lake, where the highway comes together with the railroad tracks. Walk along the railroad tracks towards Cameron Lake across a trestle over the river, and the trail is immediately on your right.
- This trail is at relatively low elevation and is good all year long. In the winter, snow can cover a lot of the ridge and bury any trails. Steeper parts of the trail through the forest may be a bit slippery when there has been a lot of rain.
- The trail is fairly well worn from Cathedral Grove up to Mt. Wesley. The trail is very good from the east end of the trail up to the Radar Tower. The route along the ridge between Mt. Wesley and the Radar Tower is a mix between bushwhacking and a web of ATV trails. There is a bit of flagging but it is pretty sporadic.
- Be aware that you will likely have to navigate most of the ridge with a compass or GPS, as there is no clearly defined trail.
- There is the option of leaving a car at each end, or hiking back along the railroad tracks if you only have one vehicle.
- Pack your own water as there is limited access to creeks on this trail
- It can be very hard to find parking in Cathedral Grove parking lot during the summer (tourist season).
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As you drive along Cameron Lake, you can't help but notice the steep bluffs of Wesley Ridge on the opposite shoreline. It spans the entire northern shoreline, and traversing the ridge provides some amazing vantage points over the lake.
The west end of the trail starts by following Chalet Road, which is the road that leads to the cabins along Cameron Lakeís northwest shores. This dirt road branches off from highway 4 about 100m west of Cathedral Grove, and is gated by a low yellow gate. Follow the road until you reach the cabins, and after the second cabin look for flagging on your left (next to a big chainsawed blowdown) which marks the beginning of the trail. This trail climbs steeply up through the forest to reach the railroad tracks.
Once you reach the train tracks, turn right (east) and walk down the tracks a short ways before turning left up the mountain again. Watch for a few arbutus trees, some flagging, and a big blue rope hanging down a hill to mark this trail entrance. This part of the trail is also quite steep, make sure to watch your footing on the way down. The forested slopes of this mountainside are quite nice, with firs and cedars mixed in with many arbutus due to its southern exposure. After a while the trail starts to level out as you reach the saddle between Mt. Horne and Mt. Wesley. This is an important fork in the trail, and there is a nice sign showing you the way. Going left would take you to Mt. Horne. Going right leads up to Mt. Wesley.
From the junction the trail is fairly mellow for a little while until it starts to climb up the western slopes of Mt. Wesley. On the way up, you get a few glimpses of Horne Lake and Mt Mark to the northwest. As you near the top, there are some great bluffs overlooking the lake. The trail is in good shape right up to the summit, which unfortunately does not have any views at all. There is a summit cairn, with a register that can be signed.
Immediately after the summit, the trail almost disappears and you will have to just continue on an east bearing through the forest. There is some occasional flagging, but in generally you just try to stay on the top of the ridge and keep moving east. The route drops down a fair bit before climbing back up to the center of the ridge, sometimes referred to as Salmon Hill. Along the way there are some nice bluffs with views over the lake, and as you approach Salmon Hill you begin to run into some ATV trails. As tempting as it is, donít follow these roads, as most will take you down the north side of the ridge and way off track.
From the top of Salmon Hill you get a good view looking north towards the Straight of Georgia. Continue heading east down one of the roads until you pick up the route along the ridge. As you get closer to the east end of the ridge, there are more and more ATV trails crossing your path. Some of these you can follow, just be very careful to keep heading east and not north (downhill). One of these roads will bring you right up to the Radio Tower, which is another good viewpoint.
After the Radar Tower, the trail is very good and easy to follow. It heads down through the forest to a nice ledge overlooking the east side of Cameron Lake. This viewpoint has a nice bench and is surrounded by arbutus trees. The trail then becomes steeper and follows switchbacks down to the railroad tracks. Walking over the trestle that spans the Little Qualicum River leads you right to the parking area on the side of the highway.
Wesley Ridge Map