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Originally published August 9, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 9, 2005 at 10:38 AM

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More to Nootka Sound than fishing

There is a lot more to do around Nootka Sound than just going fishing. Members of the Mowachaht and Muchalaht First Nation give history...

Seattle Times staff reporter

There is a lot more to do around Nootka Sound than just going fishing.

Members of the Mowachaht and Muchalaht First Nation give history tours at Friendly Cove. Boaters can tie up at the dock, and check out the Roman church built in 1889, see the Captain Cook monument, Coast Guard station and other sites close by. Cost is $5 (Canadian) day-use fee and $15 for overnight camping.

The area was also home to a big fur trading post in the late 1700s. From 1915 to 1950, the area at Friendly Cove had a thriving fish cannery, operated by Nootka Packing Company, which employed about 2,000 people, many of which were local natives. The demolished cannery is now home to Nootka Island Fishing Camp.

For nature viewers, the wildlife is spectacular, with killer whales, gray whales, seals, sea lions, otters and many bird species. Vancouver Island hosts a huge black bear population, and they can be seen venturing down to shorelines to feed on shellfish and fish.

Outdoor recreationalists can board a converted minesweeper run by Nootka Sound Services Ltd. that transports passengers and freight to outposts around Nootka Sound. The company offers scheduled tours and transportation for kayakers, canoers, campers and hikers.

The M.V. Uchuck III is a 136-foot vessel that leaves Gold River, and makes various stops at Zeballos, Friendly Cove, Kyuquot, Tahsis and other points in between.

Nootka Sound is also one of the few places in the world where scuba divers can see the elusive six-gill shark. The best viewing time is May to September. Many excellent dive sites are accessible from Gold River and Tahsis, and chartered trips are available at both communities.

Surfing is another sport that can be taken on by the huge surf crashing off Nootka Island or along the outside coast on chartered trips from Tahsis.

Less than an hour's drive from Nootka Sound is Strathcona Provincial Park. Strathcona, British Columbia's oldest provincial park, was created in 1911. It covers a hefty 967 square miles and boasts six of the seven highest peaks on Vancouver Island.

Getting there, places to stay

Gold River Fishing Lodge: 877-337-5464 or

Critter Cove: 250-283-7364 or

Ceepeecee Lodge, Tahsis: 250-656-3922 or

Pro Fish Adventures: 250-923-6335 or

Nootka Wilderness Lodge: 250-850-1500 or

Chinootka Fishing Lodge: 877-926-6619 or 250-926-66129 or

Nootka Island Fishing Camp: 250-752-0455 or 250-286-2694.

Sunkissed Charters: 800-971-1278 or 250-285-2726 or

Westview Marina, Tahsis: 800-992-3252 or

Gold River Village: 250-283-2202.

Tahsis Village: 250-934-6344 or

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada:

Strathcona Park Lodge and Outdoor Education Centre: 250-286-3122.

Discover Camping, British Columbia: 800-689-9025 or

B.C. Ferries: 604-444-2890 or 888-BC-FERRY or

Air Nootka: 250-283-2255 or

The park has something for everyone from rock climbing, camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, biking and boating. It is home to a large deer and black bear population, and also boasts a good number of Roosevelt elk.

Mountain climbers can test their skills at Kings Peak, Elkhorn Mountain near Gold River, and the newly developed Strathcona Crest Creek Crags Climbing area, which has more than 100 climbing routes. Upper Campbell Lake is a popular stop for windsurfers, kayakers, canoeists, boaters and freshwater fishers.

Buttle Lake, named for Commander John Buttle — who explored the area in 1860s — is the main body of water in Strathcona Park. It offers good fishing for cutthroat, rainbow and Dolly Varden trout.

There are 160 sites in two campgrounds at Buttle Lake and Ralph River with water, toilets and firewood. The trail system is perfect for day or overnight hikes.

There are also five marine-access-only campsites throughout Strathcona Park. Details: Circle Tour Parks, 250-248-9460.

Myra Falls on the west side of Buttle Lake near the south end is the largest falls in the park. Good nature walks and short trail hikes are Lady Falls, Elk River Viewpoint, Lupin Falls, Auger Point, Karst Creek, Wild Ginger and Shepherd Creek.

Many pretty lakes can be found in Forbidden Plateau area, and offer good fly-fishing for trout. The root of its name in Indian legend was believed to be inhabited by evil spirits who consumed women and children who dared to venture into the area.

The views of mountains, glaciers, subalpine valleys and forests looking eastward to the Strait of Georgia are spectacular. To get to Forbidden Plateau follow signs for 19 kilometers from Highway 19 to Forbidden Plateau ski area via the Forbidden Plateau road.

Just outside of Strathcona Park on Upper Campbell Lake is the Strathcona Park Lodge and Outdoor Education Centre, which offers wilderness skills training programs, family oriented trips, vacation getaways, a conference center, workshops and Elder Hostel. The lodge has cozy cabins and chalet rooms for up to 200 guests.

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