The majority of the Wildside Trail is flat, coastal hiking, unless you go partially through the inland trail, or brave Mt Flores (we didn’t).
At this time, we were told it was very overgrown and not doable. Since then, I have heard that the trail has been cleared somewhat, but check with locals.
Sand Dunes: First Campsite
Sand dunes is the first site you’ll come across at about the 2km mark. There is barely any wood for fires near the food cache and outhouse.
There was plenty of wood at the far West end near the side trail to the culturally modified tree.
We never headed up to the tree on this trip, so it will be a fun discovery for you! We camped at the dunes the first night.
We wanted to take out time and enjoy the entire long weekend outdoors rather than go the 11kms to Cow Bay the first night.
Beautiful sunset colors at the “Sand Dunes” on Flores Island
We were treated to a super peaceful and human free experience. When we woke up in the morning, there were wolf prints outside our tent. Creepy!
No water available here so we filled a 20 liter container at the check in office.
Getting to Cow Bay
What I love about the Wildside trail is that it is like a choose your own adventure book where you can pick your level of difficulty by selecting a few different trails once you reach Kutcous which is the next official camping spot.
At low tide you CAN cross the river at its mouth but you get wet to the knees.
On the way to Cow Bay we chose to take the high tide cut off inland trail from Kutcous. We had to walk the right side of the river bank and follow the markings on a tree that said trail to bridge.
Kutcous River Mouth
Walk Down this river bank to cross at the low point passed the downed trees
There are two options here. You can cross the river at the bridge, or, if the water is low enough like it was for us, just walk across with your waterproof boots on, just passed the downed trees on your right.
After you cross the bridge/river, you keep right to go inland.
If you go left, which takes you back to the Coastal Trail, it’s an extra 1.5 kms.
We’ve done a ton of coastal hiking so we decided to change the scenery up, and headed inland. The Inland Trail was RUGGED!
Hopefully, it’s been well used since our trip!
We then scrambled over the black rocks and started back on the coastal trail.
Flores Island: Coastal Trail
The Wildside Trail, Coastal Section just north of Kutcous contains many sandy beaches for camping without food caches or out houses.
Bring enough rope to hang your food out of the reach of bears but mostly wolves.
There were a slow moving stream or two at each beach but the later in the summer you go they will dry up to nothing.
If you have the capacity to carry your water from Kutcous you could camp at the smaller beaches along the coastal trail.
Make sure to get your water from far up the river.
The beaches are much more sheltered from the wind than Cow Bay with plenty of wood and flat spots above the high tide line for camping.
West End of Cow Bay
West end Cow Bay has 3 streams for water. At least it did when we went in May.
The good news is there are typically no people camped up there, the bad news is you have to walk farther with your pack on.
West End Cow Bay Camping
Looking East down Cow Bay Beach
West end also has an ample supply of driftwood for a fire. Look for the float on a stick that we put up to mark the first stream.
No food cache or outhouse at the West end.
It’s always windy here and it can be hard to find a tree tall enough to hang your food.At the east end there is 2 food caches I believe and an outhouse.
There is a cool cabin that you can visit when taking the coastal trail. Don’t forget to sign the guest book.
Located in two places…St Andrews Square, tucked inside the Investors Group Building with entrances from Yates and View Streets, and on Cook St in Cook St Village on the way to Beacon Hill Park. This is a place you don’t want to miss.
Our favorite dish: We haven’t met a donuts we didn’t like so game on here!
Get there early, or else they might sell out of your favorite flavour
Taco Stand Al Pastor
For a light quick meal, with a combination of flavorful ingredients, head over to Taco Stand Al Pastor.
The local ingredients, including meats, kick up the experience a notch. The flavour of the made fresh topping and ingredients keeps me going back.
Sit down and enjoy some people watching at the Public Market while you munch.
Located in the Victoria public market, in the bottom floor of the Hudson building, 1701 Douglas st, 5 mins walk from the core.
Kissinger Lake campground is a hosted forestry site camping experience.
Which means that it is managed by an on site host, while the land is owned by the forestry company TimberWest. There are 26 sites, and some of them are along the gorgeous lake front. We always book the second one down from the dock on the left. You are covered in trees for privacy, yet can still see the lake.
Open May Long
Kissinger Lake Fishing
There is a small boat launch at Kissinger. You are only allowed to use electric motors. The size of the lake is small and really can’t make use of a gas powered motor.
Bonus: fishing is allowed in Kissinger Lake. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout and we would cast for fish right off the dock.
Or bring your tube and float while you fish at this amazingly clean and warm lake.
Kissinger Lake Hiking
When we went to Kissinger, we went hiking up Heather Mountain.
We also went exploring down the backroads in our truck and saw some amazing scenery including a heard of elk!
We also went a bit further down the logging roads to Central Walbran and viewed some of the worlds biggest trees. They were amazing!
Vancouver Island Local Tip
Get all your supplies in a larger city so they are not only cheaper, but you have a better selection of supplies. Or stop in Lake Cowichan on the way
Swimming in Kissinger Lake
The water is so clean and warm, we floated in the lake for hours on end. Watch out for that 3pm wind that picks up, it’ll take you for a ride in your tube.
The worst thing is having to paddle yourself against the wind all over hells half acre to get back to shore.
Camping Reservations & How to Pay
The Kissinger lake campsite opens from May long weekend until Thanksgiving weekend (Oct).
Like many campgrounds on Vancouver Island, I recommend a reservation, but it will cost you a bit more than not reserving.
It’s worth it to pay for reservations; you can’t find a campground on the Southern half of Vancouver Island to save your life May through Sept.
Don’t be disappointed and take my advice!
You can call for Reservations 250-714-9525, or book online, they accept most major credit cards and paypal.