A Favourite Camping Spot
There's 4 tiny little sites for a tent (or 3) along the 6 km perimeter trail around Labour Day Lake, almost a thousand metres up, east of Port Alberni, just SW of Mt Moriarty. I debated choosing one of the nearby smaller and more remote lakes such as Henry or Kammat, but settled on Labour Day Lake as I like it and have found myself doing a lot of riding around the area.
There's something about these high altitude, steep sloping lakes on the Island that's real atmospheric. A rough trail into the camp sites makes things interesting. Finally, the logging company (Island Timberlands) has been putting up "no camping" signs at popular nearby Rec campgrounds, reclassifying these spots as day use only. Labour Day Lake remains a welcome exception.
This is a wilderness campground, reached via a tough backroads climb.
From Port Alberni, one climbs up the 400m "Hump" to the east on paved Hwy 4. Branch SW onto Cameron River Main for about 25kms of mostly steady climbing, until a fork 3-4 kms before the lake, with the right side going up around the SW side of the lake, and the left fork up around the NE side, which is also the more direct route to get to the lakeside trails and most camping options.
Given the elevation, snows sometimes are not fully melted until late May. Be cautious as there may be active logging about.
There are a number of really tough side trip options from up this way. West along Copp Main up past tiny, remote, high altitude Henry, Kammat & Peak Lakes - and continue to connect with the Upper Nitinat River Valley (if still possible). SW to connect with the Nanaimo River Valley. North to reach Arrowsmith Lake and the coast beyond. If this sounds appealing, check out this extreme backroads ride.
The trekking trail around the lake is well worth the time & effort. On the NE side, alas, a few years past, the logging company logged fairly close to the lake, opening a swath into which high winds funnelled and took out dozens of trees. The largest of the 4 campsites (3 of them only large enough for ~2 smaller tents) still has fallen trees strewn about.
See the photo below - you have to watch closely to ensure you don't miss the rough entrance down to the lake and trails (look for the pink ribbons) from the NE corner of LDL. From the SW side road, I've never found a good trail down, and have had to lock my bike by the road and then haul gear in until I crossed the perimeter trail, and then on to the tiny yet very scenic site (top photo).
Here's a zoom in on Labour Day Lake to give you a general idea of the positioning of the camps. The largest site is the one at ~1:00 o'clock at the NE. See the trailhead down to the north lakeside
Note also that unless you follow the lakeside perimeter trail (very hard with a loaded bike), if you want to get from the NE to the SW access track (or vice versa), you need to descend to the Y junction, then climb back up the final steep stretch.
From an earlier trip, when I camped at the NE end. This pic at dusk. I had the lake to myself, although some hikers showed up the enxt morning.