In a recent household survey Sayward residents placed high value on the natural environment and the quality of life offered here and why many people chose to live, work and retire in the Village of Sayward. The value that residents place on the natural environment is perhaps best stated in the Village coat of arms: Friend of Nature.
The Village of Sayward Campground is the only municipal campground on northern Vancouver Island. It is located at H’Kusam Park in the Village of Sayward, and features magnificent views of the ocean and mountains. This is a small and quiet campsite with 6 fully serviced sites, washrooms, and a large area for tenting. Learn more about the Village of Sayward campground.
Many provincial, regional, and private campgrounds can be found between Campbell River and Cape Scott.
For more information about provincial campgrounds, please visit the BC Parks website.
Campgrounds located on Crown lands are managed by Recreation Sites and Trails BC. The closest of these is Elk Creek Campground, located on Highway 19 just north of the Sayward junction. Other nearby campgrounds include the Forest Service sites at McCreight, Pye, and Stella Lakes, all located off Highway 19 southeast of Sayward, with access via Rock Bay Road.
To reach McCreight Lake from Campbell River, follow Highway 19 north about 37 km (23 miles). Turn right onto Rock Bay Road. McCreight Lake is the third recreation site on the left, about 6-7 km from the highway. Both Pye and Stella Lakes are located short distances south on Rock Bay Road, and their respective turnoffs are well marked.
Salmon River Estuary Complex: Protecting Land and Saving Species
The Nature Trust of BC is a leading non-profit land conservation organization. This organization protects critical habitat for vulnerable species by acquiring land through purchase, donation or lease and then caring for it. With the help of their supporters, The Nature Trust has conserved over 500 properties and 178,000 acres in BC. One of their significant conservation complexes is found at the Salmon River, located near Sayward. 2021 marks The Nature Trust of BC’s 50th anniversary.
Conservation Land Acquisition
The Nature Trust has been working with its partners to conserve the Salmon River since 1978. The Salmon River Estuary Complex currently protects 937 acres. The Salmon River Estuary Complex provides vital habitat for iconic species. The Salmon River system supports all five species of Pacific salmon: Coho, Chinook, Chum, Pink and Sockeye. Steelhead (the largest on Vancouver Island), cutthroat and Dolly Varden char are all present as well as resident trout and other native fish species.
Roosevelt Elk, the largest subspecies of North American Elk roam on the property, Great Blue Heron wade and fish in the stream. The small Northern Pygmy Owl swoops between trees hunting its prey. Recently Grizzly Bears have returned to the Salmon River to feast on the spawning salmon. It is believed that they swam across the channel from the mainland or other gulf islands.
The Salmon River demonstrates the role biodiversity plays in ensuring a healthy environment through the interconnectedness of species. The Bears feast on the spawning salmon and drag the carcasses far into the forest. The remains of the salmon contain vast quantities of nitrogen that fertilize the trees. The trees provide shade that keeps the salmon eggs cool and the tree roots stabilize the river banks and sustain the aquatic environment.
Conservation Land Stewardship
In addition to land acquisition, The Nature Trust of BC is committed to land stewardship. The Nature Trust is working to restore degraded riparian forest and wetland habitat in the Salmon River Estuary Complex, for the species that make this land their home.
Work has included creating and enhancing existing wetlands for amphibians and birds, removing invasive species such as broom, planting seedlings and building elk exclosures to protect the young plants, thinning forests to improve habitat for Roosevelt elk, monitoring bird nesting boxes for Western screech-owls and installing wildlife cameras.
Enhancing Estuary Resilience
The Nature Trust of British Columbia has secured funding from the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund to implement a five-year project to improve estuary habitat to enhance the long-term sustainability and health of wild BC fish stocks. This project will monitor, research and assess estuary resilience to climate change at 15 sites on Vancouver Island, the central coast and Haida Gwaii, including the Salmon River.
Estuaries and coastal wetlands comprise less than 3% of BC’s coastline, yet they support over 80% of BC’s coastal fish and wildlife, and provide critical habitat for Pacific salmon. Climate change is expected to significantly impact estuary ecosystems through a number of mechanisms, including rising sea-levels, ocean acidification, temperature and salinity changes, changes to freshwater and sediment inputs.
The Nature Trust is working with Coastal First Nations and their partners in the West Coast Conservation Land Management Program. Funding for this project is provided under the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, a contribution program funded jointly between Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Province of BC.
Hikers can spend the day on the trail up Mount H’Kusam, called “Bill’s Trail” by the locals, since it was begun and developed by Bill West-Sells. The 8-hour return trip to the summit (peak at 5,261 feet) will reward you with sweeping views of the area, including the Village of Sayward and Kelsey Bay, as well as the Salmon River estuary and wildlife reserve. Stop at the Sayward Futures Society located on the old goverment dock for visitor information, maps, and directions to the trailhead.Image
The Kusam Klimb is a wild and rugged 23 km loop heading up and over Mount H’Kusam and down the Stowe Creek watershed. Starting at sea level, participants pass through some of the most spectacular scenery on Vancouver Island with views of mountain peaks and the Johnstone Strait as they negotiate their way over the well-developed trail. Are YOU tough enough? For more information, visit the Kusam Klimb website.Image
Mount Cain Ski Resort is located northwest of Sayward, 25 minutes west of the Sayward Junction along Hwy 19. It’s a 16 km drive on a gravel road from the highway to the day lodge (at 3,900 ft), with chains being mandatory on the last 10 km. Mount Cain offers a unique experience for skiers, snowboarders and back-country explorers, with virtually no line-ups for lifts, and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. The community-run Mount Cain is located in a regional park, and is ideal for families and snow enthusiasts of all skill levels. The Mount Cain resort usually opens from November to April. For more information, please visit the Mount Cain website.