Spelunking

Kayak & Canoeing   Parks   Spelunking

Huson Caves

North Vancouver Island is a pretty amazing place to go spelunking, one of the best is Huson caves. There are over 1000 known caves on the north island and perhaps as many yet to be discovered.

The cave park includes Atluck Creek Canyon. This canyon has a number of interesting karst formations, there is a natural bridge that is quite amazing and is the only one on the island. There is a large cave where the creel flows underground for 60 meters, this is known as the cathedral cave, it’s pretty cool.

The Huson Cave system is a great place to introduce the public to caves carved out of the limestone rock by the Atluck creek. The system contains 15 caves that are easy and safe, perfect for the inexperienced caver; no special equipment is necessary.

The Little Huson Lake Cave Park is in an incredible area of the island and the canyon has some very special features which are unique to Vancouver Island.

There are ample areas to camp in the area, with the Huson lake site being the closest, this is a very nice campground with lots of space. There are a boat ramp and picnic tables along with a very large green area. The park has a number of other minor karst features like scallops that form in the rock walls, they are rippled rock surfaces that have been created by high-pressure water flow.

Upper Elk Cave

The Upper Elk Cave Rec Site is just outside Sayward and is pretty cool, there is a short trail that leads to a staircase that takes you down into the cave.

If you are heading north on Highway 19, turn left onto Upper Adam Main 10kms north of the Sayward junction. Follow Upper Adam Main for 5.5kms turning left onto Tlowils Main. Take the first right and travel along this road until you come to the next fork in the road and veer left. Follow this road for a short distance until you come to the trailhead on your left.

 

Artlish Caves Provincial Park

Artlish Caves Provincial Park is located northwest of Zeballos on northern Vancouver Island. The park is known for its incredible karst features. The wilderness park has two large cave entrances and the Artlish River runs beneath an old-growth forest environment. The people of Zeballos had for many years fought for the protection of this area and their efforts paid off, the Artlish system and surrounding forests were established as a park in 1996. Accessing this park is quite an adventure. You will quite likely encounter loaded logging trucks while traveling these roads, these are big off-highway trucks, they have the right of way, so please pull over as far as possible to let these trucks get by you.

Roads along the way have been deactivated and after you turn onto the East Artlish Mainline, you will only go about 50 more meters and you will see that the bridge has been removed. Park here and look for the trail on the left side of the bridge area. It’s a bit of a scramble both down to the creek edge and then up the other side. After that, you will travel on old overgrown logging roads for quite sometime before veering off on the trail. At one point on the trail, you will need to cross crystal creek, sometimes its a fairly easy crossing but at times the creek can be quite full and you find it quite difficult reaching the far side. There are several creeks that need to be crossed.

The trail is not very well marked and it’s easy to lose your way, only experienced hikers should attempt to reach the park, the going is rough and you should be in good shape. Its a long hike in and out, a day’s journey.

If you are a caver from east of the Rockies, please do not use the same gear in our island caves, it has been shown that cavers have accelerated the spread of white-nose syndrome by entering caves with contaminated clothing and gear. White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease that has been linked to the deaths of hibernating bats in Eastern North America and it poses a significant threat to bats of western Canada. Before entering our karst systems, please visit the  WNS website to learn more.

The artlish cave system is located within the territories of the Kyuquot/Checleset people, you just might see CMT’s ( culturally modified trees ) within the park boundaries. This is Vancouver Islands’ last remaining wild karst system that has a river incorporated with-in the cave, please leave this system just as you found it.

In this park, you will also find an old-growth valley bottom containing both caves and coastal western hemlock, western red cedar, amabilis fir, and Sitka spruce. Wildlife like Elk, deer, black bears, cougars all can be seen here as well as Sockeye, Coho, Chinook, pink salmon, steelhead and rainbow trout can all seen in the Artlish River.

Chicken 2 Cave

Inside the Chicken Cave, Vancouver Island, BC

The Chicken 2 Cave is one of the many Memekay River caves, it’s a great cave for beginners and for those who do not like crawls ( a crawl is where you are crawling on your belly). It’s right off the side of the road with a fairly easy trail, this trail does drop down to the entrance quite steeply though.

The entrance to this cave is pretty awesome, it’s a big entrance that makes one think of a king kong movie setting, quite impressive. I have gone into this cave many times and always enjoy it like the first time. There are no real hazards here and the cave is awesome.

Middle Scallop Cave

The middle scallop cave is quite unique, ceilings are at least 10 meters high yet the walls are quite narrow, so narrow in spots that its impossible to turn around. The walls are completely scalloped, hence the name, for the most part, the floor is smooth but scalloped also. This cave is awesome.

The entrance to this cave is pretty awesome, it’s a big entrance that makes one think of a king kong movie setting, quite impressive. I have gone into this cave many times and always enjoy it like the first time. There are no real hazards here and the cave is awesome.

The trail down from the road is winding and very steep, you eventually drop down into a canyon and there it is the entrance. The first time we found this cave we were pretty excited. We had heard stories of how tight and winding this cave was and looked forward to seeing it for ourselves. It did not disappoint us, winding is a mild way of describing this cave, it’s one corner after another.

There are many cave crickets and cave spiders on the ceiling and walls in this cave, so many that you can feel them dropping on you from above, you have to wonder just what they eat, maybe lost cavers.

The water levels vary only slightly but the last time I was in here, dec. 2019, the water was higher than our boots and walking with your boots on the walls was required in plenty of spots. I did get a soaker in one boot though. At the end of this long, winding passageway are a waterfall and a route up to a small hole where you can climb out, my 65-year-old belly would not let me out and I was forced to head back the way I had come in. My younger boys were able to exit here.

The memekay river valley has plenty of hidden caves, we are working hard to find all of them, the fun in searching out caves is so much a part of the adventure and then finally finding the cave you are searching for is awesome.

Minigill Cave

There are several caves located in the area of the raging river. They are all incredible but I must say that the minigill cave has to be the best. To enter this cave requires a 35-meter rappel straight down. This alone makes this a pretty awesome cave. Of course, the thing about caving is it’s always uphill on your way out. Its a tough haul using ascenders to get out.

To reach the caves here is a bit of a walk along an old decommissioned logging road, you must walk from where an old bridge has been removed. Once you park, its a pretty easy route to the caves, although if you do not know where these caves are located, you will simply walk right on by. The walk is pleasant though and the bird and plant life is quite amazing to see.

Once you drop into the cave, you will find yourself on the shore of an underground river. You will see a vast room with a variety of points that head-on into the limestone, some of the deeper rooms require you to duck underwater for a few feet, these rooms have endless soda straw stalactites that cover the ceilings. There are crystal pools with many types of formations and some formations look like nests with eggs in them. If you look up, you will see the entrance far above.

This is a remarkable cave that everyone who enters must take care to not create any damage, there is also a fair chance on injuring yourself in the drop in and exploring this hole, please be careful if you are lucky enough to locate it.

Once you drop into the cave, you will find yourself on the shore of an underground river. You will see a vast room with a variety of points that head-on into the limestone, some of the deeper rooms require you to duck underwater for a few feet, these rooms have endless soda straw stalactites that cover the ceilings. There are crystal pools with many types of formations and some formations look like nests with eggs in them. If you look up, you will see the entrance far above.

These are just a few of the caves we have here, all these are less than 2 hours away.

Kayak & Canoeing   Parks   Spelunking

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