We’ve just arrived home from our final camping trip of this season. I’ve been keeping a little journal of our travels in the trailer and my hope is that one day, Kale will have the opportunity to read the journal, and it will produce hazy, wistful memories, like when I think of building a Star Wars fort on the beach with my brother. Sidenote: Mom tells me I hated camping – I seriously don’t know how this is possible! We laugh about it quite a bit. In the meantime, though, here’s a roundup of the places we visited and stayed on weekend getaways that are all close to the Lower Mainland and pretty accessible for a quick getaway, and all of them are suitable for family camping trips. I’ve written a separate post about the big trip on its own – we had a lot of stops and the story of our BC Circle Trek is worth exploring on its own.
May 24-26: Porpoise Bay Provincial Park
We were one of only a handful of camping parties at the park for this one, and the ranger told me that it was a matter of it being too early in the season and not the long weekend in May. To get to Porpoise Bay Provincial Park, you take the Sunshine Coast ferry ($125 return for the Jeep and trailer – it is cheaper for just a car), which does add to the cost. We chose this place because I hadn’t been here and Ross had some good memories from a tenting/solo biking trip he did early on in our dating days, plus we have some family friends over there. The weather was mostly good, but typically west coast with a giant rainy break in the middle. The campground features a nice playground with a fun echo tube thingie and communal campfires which I have decided I am not too keen on. BC Parks Info.
June 21-23: Englishman River Falls Provincial Park
Another site you reach by ferry, and this one was pricier – car and trailer ferry to Vancouver Island is completely prohibitive – it was nearly $300 for our return trip. It was spitting when we arrived so we got to try our hand at tarp jerry-rigging. This trip was fun because my folks were able to join us for the evening meals/smores, as was Ross’ aunt. We did a bit of hiking and spent a day off-campground sightseeing to check out the local farmers market. This site was heavily forested and pretty dark, and made me want to plan a trip to somewhere more exposed. I enjoyed it but this campground is a bit of old news for me since I grew up there and spent some Girl Guide weekends there. We did have a nice family hike and did get to go sightseeing a bit. I’d recommend this for someone looking for a particularly private site that’s less busy than the more-popular Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville, but still close to lots of places to go on excursions to, such as Qualicum or Parksville beaches, Coombs, Errington, or slightly farther afield like Horne Lake Caves. BC Parks Info.
July 12-14: Golden Ears Provincial Park (North Beach)
We chose this location because it was relatively close and it was a celebration for Kale’s birthday. Originally when I invited everyone, I had no idea if people would come to a birthday party for a five year old so far away, but we had an incredible time and I’m thinking maybe this might be something we aim for every second year. With a birthday in July, Kale will never be obliged to invite his whole class, so I love planning his parties. We had great weather for this trip, and spent hours on the beach (located down a ridiculous steep hill you had to walk down and haul in all your gear – probably my only complaint). It was a big group, with 14 adults and seven kids. We had a birthday celebration with hot dogs, juice, and a watermelon “cake” that was really arranged pieces of watermelon slathered with whipping cream I managed to whip using my hand mixer. The site was nice, well maintained and well staffed, and just far enough away to feel that we escaped. It was really busy though – both for the day use and the campground. BC Parks Info.
September 5-8: Sasquatch Provincial Park (Hicks Lake)
This is our third year as a group at Hicks, and it’s probably my favourite campground I’ve been to. Hicks is a part of Sasquatch Provincial Park, located near Harrison Lake, off Highway 9, about an hour and 15 minutes via Highway 1, or about an hour and 45 minutes via Highway 7. It has a private-ish beach as well as a larger day use beach, and nice, flat campsites with a lovely mix of exposure and wooded. No playground at this one but each site does have a fire pit and the pit toilets are pretty well maintained – we all laugh about how “ooh la la! They have hand sanitizer!” This is my favourite trip because we go the weekend after Labour Day, and it’s dead at the campground, and our good social group gets larger each year. This is not a trip for solitude: there is generally swimming, star gazing, potlucking, drinking, and poking fires with sticks. This year a few of us went up a day early and it POURED part way through our first full day there, and it was a pretty boring night Friday under the tarped tables, but it was fun and cozy and the temperature was fine. I love this place more each time we go and am always stunned with how close it feels but how far away it feels, all at the same time. We stop in Deroche for beef jerky at the Deroche General Store and come home well rested. BC Parks Info.