Wildside Trail Camping Experience

Flores Island Wildside Trail

Below is my experience on the Wildside Trail on Flores Island, traditional Ahousaht Territory.

Please ensure to check into and plan the details of each hike you are wanting to experience.  

wildside Trail

Entrance to Wildside Trail

Wildside trail

Wildside Trail, Flores Island: Hiker’s Ratings

Scenery

Difficulty

Solitude

Price

25$ per person

Would Hike Again?

Getting to Flores Island

Mostly 2 to 4 hours parking along first and main street and surrounding areas.  We parked on Neil street in front of some houses where there was no time limit. 

There are a few long term lots in the City: we didn’t bother looking because we are cheap! 

I called the Wildside trail office and let then know I needed a boat and they wrangled one for us so remember their number. Cash only. 20 to 25 each.   

You can also go down to the dock and ask when a boat arrives if they will ferry you over. 

From Cow Bay to the Ahousaht dock, hiking the coastal trail took us 3 hrs with breaks.  

Water Sources

Please note campers have informed me that the water sources I speak of below have dried up as the summer season progresses, so be prepared! 

Flores Island Wildlife

Wolves are an issue on Flores.  Please take a look at BC Parks Wolf Safety Guidance before you head over. And don’t feed the resident dogs!

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/misc/wolves/ 

Flores Island Experience

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.

Hike on!

flores island

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. 

flores island sand dunesflores island hiking

We wanted to take out time and enjoy the entire long weekend outdoors rather than go the 11kms to Cow Bay the first night.   

flores island camping

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.  

flores island river crossing

Kutcous River Mouth

hiking vancouver island

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!

flores island

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

West End Cow Bay Camping

cow bay flores

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. 

If you’re looking for a hiking experience closer to the South Island, check out our Hiking and Photo Tours below!

Best Restaurants in Victoria B.C – List by Locals

best restaurants in victoria BC

best restaurants in victoriaI’ve had a number of my hiking guests ask me where the best restaurants are in Victoria.  Not the “chef puts his ego on a plate” kind of places, but local establishments run by locals.   

The kind of restaurants that someone who has lived here for a few decades would frequent, that reflect the Victoria lifestyle.  

 I enlisted the help of a foodie friend of mine to curate this amazing list of the best places to eat in Victoria (our favorite places!)   

After a long days hike, the last thing you want to do is figure out where to eat.  So let us help you eat your best meal yet! 

From appetizers to full blown pasta meals, get your fork and dig in. 

Let’s make your mouth water with our listing of the best restaurants in Victoria. 

Il Terrazzo

Star Rating

Are you hungry for pasta? If you are looking for mouth watering plates with big portion sizes, then Il Terrazzo is for you.  

I’m a huge fan of seafood pasta in white sauce, if you are too, this is the best Italian restaurant in Victoria to satisfy your cravings.   

If you are not a seafood fan, never fear, they serve a wide selection of Italian fare. 

Il Terrazzo is located down an old alley near the Johnson Street Bridge in an area locals call Lower Johnson. 

Website

www.ilterrazzo.com 

Local Tip

Reservations are recommended as this is a local favorite and always busy

Blue Fox Cafe

Star Rating

Brunch in Victoria 

Don’t let the line scare at Blue Fox Café you.  This lively spot close to the downtown core is known for its amazing brunch.   

The owner has created perfection (what can I say I love it there). 

The atmosphere is funky, and accompanied by comfort/homestyle food.  

Large portions are standard with tons of options. 

Located on close to the core, on Fort St just passed Quadra St, right hand side. 

Website 

www.thebluefoxcafe.com

Our favorite dish:  12 kinds of Eggs Benny available to choose from!

Local Tip

No reservations mean you will wait in line for a table.  Sometimes from 15 – 45 mins.  I promise, it will be worth every minute. 

Pagliacci’s

Star Rating

Exemplary staff that serve flavourful food.  The only thing better than the food is the names of the dishes.   

From The Cabinet of Dr. Cappelletti to the Super Mario 1 Up Mushroom Ravioli, you’re about to experience a flavour journey that locals have loved for generations. 

Located on Broad Street between Fort and Broughton, right by the Bay Centre. 

Website 

www.pagliaccis.ca

Our Favorite Dish: Hemingway Short Story  

Local Tip

They don’t take reservations.  This means you might wait in line, but its only about 15 mins.

Ferris Oyster Bar

Star Rating

I’ve been here a few times and must admit, I’ve only had their oysters.  But holy, the variety available is outstanding.  

I’m always a fan of Ferris because they strive to use the best fresh seafood ingredients from local sources.   

We had a lovely window seat that made us feel like we were secluded in our own private spot. ​

Ferris also has a Grill and Garden Patio that you need to check out, if seafood and oysters aren’t your thing. 

Located on lower Yates, right hand side of the street.  Bonus, there is a City parkade across the street that is free after 6pm. 

Website: 

www.ferrisoysterbar.com

Our favorite: Oysters 

Local Tip

Reservations required if you want to secure your spot

Baan Thai

Star Rating

My first taste of Thai was at Baan Thai.  This spoiled me for LIFE. 

The spring rolls are cooked to perfection and come with an oyster/fish dipping sauce that just kills it.   

I always add shrimp or chicken to my combo plates and the amount of meat is exactly what you think it should be.   

Well priced and great value for your money, the friendly and efficient staff will have you in and out of there in less than 45 mins (if you eat fast LOL). 

best restaurants in victoria

They also serve Thai beers, which are pretty good. 

Website 

www.baanthaivictoria.ca

Our favorite dish: Phad Thai with shrimp and side of spring rolls 

Local Tip

Thai people like their food spicy.  So if you don’t, suggest ordering your dish mild.  Even the medium can be a bit hot for us westerners

Zanzibar

Star Rating

Zanzibar is casual yet the food it serves is nothing but.  

An amazing selection of international foods with an East African Influence, the décor is eclectic and the service is exceptional.   

Don’t worry, they have a selection for the not so adventurous of us that is equally fantastic. 

The atmosphere is comfortable and inviting.   

Website

www.zanzibarcafe.ca

Located in Brentwood Bay, Northeast of Victoria.  Basically it’s on the way to the ferry terminal and the airport.

Local Tip

Reservations in advance are recommended

Tacofino

Star Rating

This small eatery serves up modern creative tacos and burritos.  You can eat in at the bench seating or take it to go.   

The serving sizes will fill you up so bring your appetite.  Prices are good and they also serve up local beer. 

Located on fort street about a block from the downtown core. 

Website 

www.tacofino.com/location/victoria-taco-bar 

Our favorite dishMy favorite is the fish tacos, but I am basically a mermaid and eat fish anytime I can. 

Local Tip

The line moves fast so don’t be discouraged

Jones BBQ

Star Rating

I drive 30 mins out of my way for the Jones experience. 

One of the only BBQ joints in town, expect to be blown away by the delicious Texan Style flavor context dancing on your tastebuds.    

The meat is slow roasted and moist.  The beans are like holy crap, am I in Heaven?  What can I say, I love beans.   

Lines are long at times but move fast.  You can sit in or take to go.  Parking available on site or on the side streets. 

Located just a 15 mins walk from the downtown core, corner of Cook and Grant St, 1725 Cook 

Website

www.jonesgotmeat.com

Our favorite dish: 2 Meat Plate with potato salad and pit beans. 

Local Tip

Bring your eatin’ pants because order sizes are ridiculously huge

Fernwood Pizza Company

Star Rating

While this place isn’t in the downtown core, it’s pretty damn close.   

Walk about 15 mins and you will come across the Fernwood Pizza Company.   

best restaurants in victoria

The nearby Fernwood Pub recently expanded their local offerings to include this pizza place, located behind the main restaurant building at 2009 Fernwood Rd.  

I’ve eaten a fair amount of pizza in my day, and this pizza tops anything I’ve tried. 

Website: 

www.fernwoodpizzacompany.com

Local Tip

You can order online!  Even though this is a small local company, they can do gluten free, dairy free and vegan options

Golden City 

Star Rating

Oh my God, the Dim Sum on Sundays at Golden City is to die for.  They also have Hot Pots, which, if you don’t know, are the best!   

best restaurants in victoria

You get a plateful of raw ingredients that you cook yourself, in a hot pot that is in the middle of your table. 

I first tried this is New York and just can’t get enough of it. 

Located on Fisgard St, its about 5 mins from the core. 

Website: 

http://www.goldencityrestaurant.ca/ 

Our favorite dish: Dim Sum Sundays

Local Tip

If you want to enjoy dim sum, definitely make a reservation

Roast Meat and Sandwich Shop

Star Rating

You can get sandwiches or salads from this awesome meat focused eatery.  I stick to the salads which are “make your own” style.   

You pick the greens, meat and a few toppings.  Then slap on your dressing and you are ready to go. 

For just over $11, the size of this salad is impressive 

It’s more of a meal than a salad.   

Located in the Victoria public market, in the bottom floor of the Hudson building, 1701 Douglas St, 5 mins walk from the core.

Website:

www.roastsandwichshop.ca/menu

Our favorite dish: Make your own salad

Local Tip

Double up your meat and see what happens.  You’ll love me for suggesting it

Shirley Delicious

Star Rating

If you are venturing north, outside of the City, make sure you stop at Shirely Delicious.  This eclectic and welcoming café along Highway 14 was featured in the New York Times. 

My hiking guests LOVE this place.  The coffee and coffee drinks are the best in the city. 

The staff is so friendly and enthusiastic, and the owners have created an amazing vibe in their tiny corner of the city.  They serve breakfast and lunch.  

You can eat in or take it to go.  Desert selection includes many gluten free options.  

Experience local art and atmosphere that screams west coast Vancouver island. 

Located outside of Victoria, on highway 14 on the way to port Renfrew.

Website:

https://m.facebook.com/ShirleyDelicious/ 

Our favorite dishes: caramel mocha, breakfast burrito, gluten free caramel cheesecake 

Local Tip

Shirley Delicious is quite a ways outside of the main city core, but if you’re a foodie, totally worth it

Empire Donuts

Star Rating

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a selection of donuts from Empire Donuts. 

These aren’t your typical regular honey glazed donuts.   They offer chocolate oreo and seasonal flavours such as egg nog glazed. Scrumptious.

Not only do they serve donuts, but apparently their fried chicken is to die for. ​

The fried chicken sandwich is about a mile high!

Website: 

www.empiredonuts.ca

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!

Local Tip

Get there early, or else they might sell out of your favorite flavour

Taco Stand Al Pastor

Star Rating

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. 

Website:

www.tacostandalpastor.com

Our favorite dish: Opted for the combo platter and love me some beef and fish tacos.

Local Tip

You can order a bunch of different kinds of tacos at once.  Do it.  Also, they can be messy so be ready! 

Conclusion

If you are looking for some of the best restaurants in Victoria, our local favorites list is sure to send your taste buds to flavour country and help you recover from your days adventures.  

Did you visit any of these locales?  What was your favorite dish?  Do you have a suggestion that we can add to the list?  

Let us know!

Kissinger Lake Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island Hikes Kissinger Lake

Camping at Kissinger Lake

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.

Quick FactsKissinger Lake
Pit Toilets No Showers
Water Pets Allowed
Garbage Bins Fire Pits
No Electricity Fishing Allowed
Reservations Open May Long

Kissinger Lake Fishing

Vancouver Island Hikes Kissinger Lake

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.

http://lakecowichancamping.com/bookingcl.html

Vancouver Island Local Tip

Fire bans come into effect every year because we don’t get enough rain.  If you want a campfire, best months to camp are May, June, Sept & Oct.

How to Get There

You will be driving down some very bumpy gravel roads to get to Kissinger Lake.

While you don’t need a 4×4 a vehicle with normal clearance i.e no lowriders and you’ll make it there just fine.

Never driven a logging/forestry service road?

kissinger lake campground how to get there

Gravel Road that take you to Kissinger Lake Campground

Then you’ll want to make sure to take it easy and stick to your side of the road.

Logging trucks are driving top speed down these roads, fully loaded with logs.  They are HUGE and take up about 75% of the road.

They have the right of way, so get out of the way!

Drive past Gordon Bay and Cayacuse Campgrounds. Once you reach Heather Campsite, you’re almost there.

Keep driving for about another 2kms.  At 40km, you’ll arrive at the Kissinger Lake campsite on the left.