Crabapple Lake is a quiet beauty, deep in the heart of the Sea to Sea Regional Park. Expect pink water lilies in the summer and a bit of calm at this small, hike-in lake.
Its relatively remote location and the three-hour uphill hike needed to get there mean that few people venture up to see it, and if they do it’s often a quick detour on the way to its larger neighbour, Sheilds Lake, or up to the summit of Mount Empress for panoramic views of the horizon. The surrounding second-growth forest is not as mature as one might expect, but still home to a wide range of animals and plants.
Creeks & Watershed
Crabapple Lake is the headwaters of the small but mighty Charters River, which eventually feeds into the Sooke River to the west. Restoration and rehabilitation by volunteers and local governments has encouraged salmon spawning at the base of the Charters River, and an interpretive centre hosted by the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society can be found on Sooke River Road.
A cabin used to exist at Crabapple Lake, and while it is gone now you may still see some concrete remnants when you visit. The cabin had a stone fireplace and was built by Eric Bernard, who ran a well-known logging and pole-cutting operation in the area, so he could share weekend retreats with his wife, Marjorie, at the lake. Bernard is credited with bringing pink water lilies to Crabapple Lake. It is likely that the lake received its name from this couple, who admired the Pacific crab apples growing along the shore.
What is now known as the Sooke Mountain Trail was actually a paved road in the 1940s and 1950s. It was originally called Mount Shepherd Road, and pieces of the pavement can still be seen in the rockier sections.
Like its neighbour, Sheilds Lake, Crabapple Lake was used for skating by pioneering locals in the winters of the early 1900s.
For trail maps, access information, and much more, get your copy of the Lakes of Victoria, BC guidebook.