Cortes Island is a hugely popular island in Desolation Sound. Offering options such as Squirrel Cove, Gorge Harbour, Von Donop to Carrington Bay, the island has a lot to offer summer cruisers. We’ve enjoyed many summer nights anchored off Cortes Island. Exploring the more unbeaten paths and anchorages are what we really enjoy. If you haven’t read the previous post on Carrington Bay, have a read so you’re not missing out on the full Carrington Bay experience – https://www.coastapus.com/always-listen-to-hippies/.
Cortes Island is also home to Hathayim Marine Park (also known as Von Donop Marine Park). It’s a sizeable park at 1,277 hectares, offering an additional play ground for cruisers. Exploring the more unbeaten paths and anchorages are what we really enjoy, such as the hike to Robertson Lake in the marine park!
Now that you know the Robertson Lake access from Robertson Cove (https://www.coastapus.com/hidden-robertson-lake-part-1-revised/ ), we discovered that there is also access from inside Von Donop! Ok, so this hike is substantially longer, but, in windy conditions that aren’t ideal for dinghy trips this is a great option. The trail to Robertson Lake from inside Von Donop is equally as nice as the other entrance point. Yes, a longer hike, but it means on windy days you don’t need to have a whole adventure on its own of getting your tender to shore!
Once you’re prepped with your day pack, hop in the dinghy and start to head out of Von Donop. As you’re heading out, on your right there’s a little indent for a boat to anchor. Quite often there will be a boat stern tied to the beach. Take your dinghy ashore, or use your anchor bungee and go to the beach on the north (or left) side of the indent. As you’re walking up the beach it becomes obvious you’re on the right beach, or maybe wrong beach.
Once you’re ashore, you’ll find a rough trail heading along the top of the beach and up into the forest, this is the trail! After finding the trail, it won’t take you long to hike up to a fork in the trail. The correct way to go is to go right. Of course rustic hiking doesn’t always offer trail signage, so we first went left. No worries if you make our mistake. Going left takes you on a super short hike out to the point with a small hut. I can’t recall exactly the length, but we’re talking less than 5 minutes. I’m assuming the purpose of the hut is for shelter for local islanders who are out and about when weather hits, but I have no history on the hut. If anyone knows something about the hut please share!
Once you’ve had the tourist hike and tour of the hut, head back down the trail and start your hike to Robertson Lake. The trail will take you first past Wiley Lake, which I wouldn’t classify as a swimming lake. It’s very picturesque, a small lake in the wild with lily pads, half submerged logs and what looks like a very muddy entrance to attempt to swim. We didn’t run across any ideal swimming launch areas, but each to there own for swimming preferences.
This is a great hike to do on a hot day. The forest offers great shade from the sun, making this a nice hike to get some exercise. We haven’t hiked the full length of the lake. The day we did this hike was the day I decided I needed new hiking sandals. Not enough bandaids in my daypack were helping the blisters my sandals were giving me, so very frustrating! We didn’t track the hike, so I can’t tell you exactly how long the trail is, but what I can tell you is from the dinghy beach to the other end of the lake is roughly about 3.5km, give or take how winding the trail is.
On your next cruise to Cortes Island, get off your boat and try exploring Robertson Lake. It’s a beautiful hike and a nice way to get some exercise after anchoring for a couple of days. In the summer the temperature is perfect for swimming, and with no official park trail to the lake, you will likely have your own private lake for swimming! When hiking in from Robertson Cove, we’ve brought in pool floats and spent a lovely day playing on the water with a picnic. No summer is complete without my summer lake day at Robertson Lake!