Diversion\Bear Creek Reservoir

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Wingman's picture

Jeff Davies
Victoria
Diversion\Bear Creek Reservoir

Hi there. I'm new to this forum and looking forward to sharing information. I wondered if anyone knew any alternative routes to Diversion and Bear Creek Reservoirs, deep in the Sooke Hills. The main access route via the Butler Main from Otter Point has of course been permanently closed and gated for a decade by Timber West. It's a tangled web of jurisdiction back there. The East Main from Jordan River - used by BC Hydro, Western Forest Products and a variety of private logging contractors - remains accessible but it's going over a cliff - literally. After years of extensive logging, it's heavily eroded with slides, washouts and blowdown, as well as a lot of nasty exposed rock. Only the first few km from the highway turnoff appears to have had any maintenance in recent years. Last year I destroyed a tire and hub back there. Last Sunday I got through OK as far as Diversion but it took a full hour, and I decided not to carry on to Bear Creek. I am trying to find out from BC Hydro if they have any plans to upgrade the road - they insist it has not been abandoned - but I was wondering if it is possible to get in from the Shawnigan Lake end via the extensive network of roads there, some of which are also gated. I have often seen and heard vehicles rumbling down the north shore of Beer Creek reservoir on the Butler Main and wondered if the drivers all have cutting permits, they've somehow managed to get keys from Timber West or if they have found another access route.

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Admin

Shane
North Cowichan

Hey welcome to the forum. Unfortunately I don't have any answers for you on this one - I haven't done any exploring in the Sooke area yet. Let us know what you find out though!

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Jeff Davies
Victoria

The people at Hydro have once again assured me they are not abandoning the
East Main. After all they need it to access their dams. They say crews will be in there in the next couple of months grading and removing vegetation. I'd say they have a very big job in front of them and it will require more than grading to halt and repair the erosion. Still haven't been able to find any alternative routes that aren't gated. Hydro recommends I speak to Timber West - again.

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Simon
Cowichan Bay

Good old sooke, seems to be the front lines when it comes to this timber land conflict stuff. I stay aware from that drama if I can. But someone needs to do the dirty work, keep us informed!

IslandCamper's picture

Vancouver Island

Was there recently. Got there from Shawnigan. This is the route - https://www.google.ca/maps?saddr=Butler+Main+Rd&daddr=48.6375388,-123.84...

Wingman's picture

Jeff Davies
Victoria

Thanks! I must check this out. I thought from reading the backroads map book you would encounter gates along the way but maybe some were open or have been removed. It looks like you might even get into Weeks Lake again, which I haven't done in years. What kind of shape was the road in?

IslandCamper's picture

Vancouver Island

The road is in good condition, no problems. Saw about a dozen other vehicles driving it, most probably on their way to Weeks Lake. Even saw a Chevy Cavalier.

On Bear Creek Reservoir theres a good camping spot right on the lake, you can see it as a clearing on the lake directly below the A on the map I posted above, though the entrance is further west. The little road into it is pretty rough in a couple of places so you might want to walk it first to get an idea of what you have to go over. It looks like the satellite photo shows another spot on the lake a little further east. Access from the northwest part of Bear Creek Reservoir to areas south have been closed (either gated or filled-in).

Wingman's picture

Jeff Davies
Victoria

Thanks again. Great to hear. I have camped on the north shore of Bear Creek Reservoir in the past - hauling my gear in by canoe from the East Main after they closed the Butler Main - but the Timber West security guard showed up one time and told us we were trespassing and could have been fined $300 for having a campfire. Shore lunches are OK as long as you don't stay around. That being said, it's clear others who have found a way in are still camping there in those attractive sites you mention and TW has been so busy with land sales in recent years I'm not sure what the status of the north shore is. The south shore is , as far as I know, under separate ownership, but it's steep, rocky and heavily forested and has no good natural campsites. Of course you can still camp at the end of the earthen dam that forms the
reservoir but it gets crowded and a bit crazy.

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Mike Simpson
Saanich Vancouver Island

What road do you take from Shawingan, I thought it was gated and block off. The old Port Renfrew Rd? Thanks

Wingman's picture

Jeff Davies
Victoria

It's the Renfrew Main all right as you see on the map posted above. A friend and I set out ten days or so ago - on a weekday - to check it out but not far west of Shawnigan encountered active hauling and signs warning us to turn back or we would be considered trespassers unless we had written authorization from Timber West. The gate was open at the time but the signs warned it could be closed at any time. We met one other fellow who had turned back. He told us to get out of there: it was dangerous because of hauling and blasting. We turned back. Not keen to get stuck behind the gate.

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Joe
Victoria

East Main is clear all the way to West Coast Road now from where you ended up. Washouts were not that bad. I only saw one that made me want to hug the uphill side of the road. I was in a stock KL Cherokee and it handled everything on the road all the way to Bear Creek Reservoir. How did you negotiate the gate across the Kapoor Main at about 9 km past Koksilah Park? Was it open? I've never managed to get past it. I went up the East Main in June 2015

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Jay Million
Victoria

Well I tried getting to diversion resevoir again yesterday via East main, south of Jordon river, but the road has been deactivated with a giant hole in the ground. Found some snow to play in instead. Anyone have any luck with jordan main recently? Will be trying that one soon I think. Also found a torched car.

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BrandonF's picture

Brandon Faliszewski
Victoria

I've been doing a ton of exploring in this area lately. I've learned to always check gates I run into. Often, they will just be dummy locked and you can drive through. It has been getting harder to access lately. Butler Main was the main access point but now that hunting season is over, its usually locked.

There is tons of good stuff up there though. Its the best wheeling zone I've ever found. Everything is just very overgrown and its quite a spiderweb of old trails.

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aaol1's picture

sam
Victoria

man that looks awesome, great pics! what do you mean by dummy locked?

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Dave
victoria

they will shut the gate and put the lock on saometimes just not click it shut or just shut the gate and put a stick in to make it look like its locked but you can still open it and drive in the just shut it after you. seen a few guys doing that in renfrew so people would not go back where they were camping......think they may be been growing something back there lol

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sam
Victoria

oh wow lol! yea ive seen one gate before like that, no lock or nothing, near shawnigan! i wish every gate were like that lol..

Modsqwad's picture

Andy
Victoria

New to the forum. We tried to get up East main on the GSA's and got stopped in the canyon by a large excavation. Also tried to get into Jordan R. Main but it was gated.... Harder to get to than I had hoped. Wouldn't mind trucking my tin boat in there to try the fishing, I hear its great.

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sam
Victoria

welcome to the forum! yea there always seems to be excavations or logging operations, thanks for the info though, good to keep updated on these spots!

BrandonF's picture

Brandon Faliszewski
Victoria

Access to the area can be tricky but if theres a will, theres a way. Check all gates to see if they are actually locked. And if a gate is locked, there is often a little path to get around it. Theres no shortage of good stuff in this area and I feel like I've only touched the surface:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1grh-Gqb2ec

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P8DMrp3iZo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmTdf_PaimE

Modsqwad's picture

Andy
Victoria

Thanks for the feedback guys. The GSA's can be a bit tricky to maneuver around tight obstacles. 600+ lb's that cost a fortune to fix can be a party killer at times. That being said they have their strong points as well. I'll watch for the closed but unlocked gate trick. Is Butler main locked these days?

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Brandon Faliszewski
Victoria

Butler main has been locked every time I've driven by in the last month unfortunately

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jas

Jas
Langford/Duncan

Brandon that looks like a great place to wheel. Gonna have to come out and play there sometimes.

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sam
Victoria

brandon when you say butler main is closed, you mean from sooke? or on that road that islandcamper mapped out?

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

The gate at Butler from sooke is locked full time now. someone tried to rip it out and they poured a slab of concrete for the new gate.
There are still ways, we are heading out that way on Sat.

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

We were in at Bear creek yesterday. still accessible. we went in at Boyds pitt though.
we also had a fire lunch at Tugwell lake.

aaol1's picture

sam
Victoria

wheres boyds pitt? we went in at shawnigan, and you can get to it, but not with vehicles ( maybe quad and dirt bike) you gotta walk down a bit to get to it on foot

aaol1's picture

sam
Victoria

This is our most recent trip, first time to reservoir! couldnt get past that first hill you see me with the shovel, was extremely soft and muddy and pretty steep ( doesnt look like it here), and well an empty truck box doesnt get you any traction lol. Anyways we made it to the reservoir! and on our way back took an abandoned old logging road, super overgrown and pretty high in the mountains, was very tight at spots, one side steep cliff one side mountain, no turn arounds haha...then came across this HUGE boulder that had fallen, one side not enough room to pass, took us an hour to slowly jack it up and crib it to the side, and finally inches by inches pass through! also had to chainsaw a fallen tree at the end, good trip :)

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

Boyds pit is on the jordan river side. but once your on butler main bear creek is easily accessible by vehicle. that pic of the old house you have, just on the other side of the bridge before it is acess as well as a ways down the road past it.

aaol1's picture

sam
Victoria

yea I thought that road would connect back some way! so you can get out/in from jordan river? I thought butler main was gated

- also, more pics I found!

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

Butler main is gated. you need to find the way in. LOL
the butler gate is in sooke

there are lots of ways around, as long as you know that body damage might occur, and that your ok with pushing your truck through quad/dirtbike trails. ill let ya know next time we head out that way.

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sam
Victoria

fair enough! sounds good

BrandonF's picture

Brandon Faliszewski
Victoria

Aaol1, are you willing to share the location of that river crossing to steep uphill?

And for anyone wondering, east main is now blocked by a landslide. It's passable but you have to straddle a drainage ditch with a huge drop to the valley bottom on the one side.
Muir main has been open both of the last times Ive checked it though.

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

LOL, heres me going the other way over the rocks.

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sam
Victoria

Haha wow that east main pass looks intense! Yea I'll share the location tonight, just at work right now! And call me Sam, haha

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Brandon Faliszewski
Victoria

Has anyone been up boneyard main? I know there's some good rock crawling trails up there. I might go try and find them this weekend.

It'd be sweet to compile a map of all the good trails in the area. I've been combing old bc4x4 articles from the late 90's and they show endless proper rock crawling trails all around the bear creek area and over Into harbourview. No maps unfortunately, just bits and pieces of information that I've been using to give me clues as to where the good shit is. It's a shame that all of this stuff has been blocked off in recent years. It looks like there used to be a huge 4x4 community in sooke.
I find it a little ironic that 4x4ing is so frowned upon, yet the whole area is being logged for all its worth

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Admin

Shane
North Cowichan

^^ I would guess that the reason 4x4ing is frowned on by some people is precisely *because* it is being logged for all its worth. There's a pretty constant PR campaign by the logging companies purporting how much they care about conservation and 'protecting' the land, when really they just want to rape it for profit and we represent a risk to that profit.

aaol1's picture

sam
Victoria

yea agreed shane,its easy to point fingers at us saying we destroy it and its bad...when in reality compared to what they do, we leave a very small footprint ( besides the idiots who dump garbage everywhere)

haha brandon the second I saw your profile pic, in my head I was like THAT GUY! ( the only dude I know who climbed that insane rock climb at oliphant, so far :P ) yea I scour the net too to try to find all I can, and I map everywhere I go with my onboard gps/mapping setup. Were actually going back to shawnigan area on monday ( most likely) theres alot more to see there!

BrandonF's picture

Brandon Faliszewski
Victoria

Haha small world Sam! I don't know if I'd be able to make it out Monday but the tentative plan is to go out on saturday. I've also been recording all of my progress. A GPS is pretty much mandatory in that overgrown spiderweb of trails. I've been using an app called Mytracks. Its a $3 app that allows you to preload maps so that you can run off just the phones GPS while you're out of cell range. It also has a shocking amount of small 4x4-only roads marked on it as dotted lines, which is what I've been basing a lot of my exploration on!

aaol1's picture

sam
Victoria

Agreed a GPS is needed! Yea similar setup to me! Saturday won't work for me, but post about it here!

IslandCamper's picture

Vancouver Island

Hi guys good discussion, glad to see someone's getting out there :-)

IslandCamper's picture

Vancouver Island

double post

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

Have you guys run Granite dunes yet? There are a bunch of other trails in the area. Hoochieman, The Bus Stop, a few buggie trails.
There area few good rock crawls off to the sides on the way up to Tugwell too.

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Brandon Faliszewski
Victoria

I've never heard of the granite dunes or those other trails you mentioned. Would you be willing to share the location? I have explored the area around tugwell quite a bit though. My plan for tomorrow is to link tugwell to butler through Muir mountain. The challenge is the amount of overgrowth and rotten old log bridges but I'm determined to finally punch a way through!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1grh-Gqb2ec

We went up this way a few months back, and kept right at every intersection. We ended up at an obstacle that I see referred to in old 4x4 articles as "Devils drop". It was getting late and it's a very serious obstacle so we turned around. We also went up the trail that is the left hand turn right after the obstacle in the video I posted. We had to turn around at an impassable log bridge.

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

we did tugwell to butler last weekend, then back up to bear creek, then out bear creek on alligator to boyds pit

BrandonF's picture

Brandon Faliszewski
Victoria

Tugwell to butler through the can opener or another trail? We're planning on going out tomorrow if you want to join

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

we started at boyds pit, went east muir to tugwell, tugwell to can opener, then on to bear cr.
thanks for the offer, but cant get out this weekend. we might go out next weekend and run a trail called 5 alarm funk.
i sent you a PM regarding granite dunes

aaol1's picture

sam
Victoria

haha who comes up with these names

bad grampa's picture

sooke

brandon.....saw your vid,what makes you think this is devils drop[rockcreep/08 article]leads to ds
i am resurecting some older trail and those are on my short list........more info..pls

TW has 2 ways to butler......
granite dunes is fun,5 alarm..more fun........what's left.....
dirty squirt,cumstain[cs]fingertip..............it's Ho Chi MIN....not hootchie man

Hey everyone, can someone please tell me how I can get out to the Bear Creek Reservoir now a days? Seems there are a lot of closed roads. I don't know the road names too well yet, so I get a little confused when I go out there, but the last time I was there (quite a while ago) we took Fore Bay Rd and there were HUGE boulders blocking us so we had to use a farm jack and winch to move them. Is it still accessible through there? Or are the boulders back?

I just need some up to date direction on how to get to the Reservoir. Thanks!

aaol1's picture

sam
Victoria

Yea totally! so if you go in by shawnigan, you just follow renfrew road until you see a FSR start on the left, you pretty much follow that main road all the way there ( there are a few left turns, just look into google maps you can map your way there, this is entrance to the logging road

48.653470, -123.704734

theres def no boulders on the main road

Alastair's picture

Alastair Dillistone
Victoria

Hi guys i new to the forum. I've been doing some exploring up around the Jordan river area and wanted to go up to the dam. I've been reading a lot of these posts and people have many different ways to access the reservoir. after looking at some satellite footage and google maps i believe you could access the reservoir using some rough trails right off the main high way. I'm going to go take a look tomorrow and ill see if i run into any gates or find a new way in. trying to find a quick way in. i was surprised to see the raw log sort in Jordan river is in full swing right now look like a new company working in there. Thanks

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

Its easy to get into bear creek. from bodys pit area.

Thanks so much guys for the reply! We ended up taking our chances with the Jordan River route and to our shitty luck it was blocked. Next time we will go the route you just mentioned. Cheers! Also, let me know Alastair how that trip went exploring those new roads.

Alastair's picture

Alastair Dillistone
Victoria

Hey i ended up going to Mt Prevost had a friend who wanted to go there. I hope to check out the Jordan river area again soon probably bring a couple rigs don't like exploring new stuff on my own. Thanks

Yea, fair enough. Better safe than sorry! Cheers.

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

you still need to go through some tank traps and know your way in from boyds pit.
Alecia, what are you driving?

Yea, a buddy of ours said that too. I'm driving a 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road, nothing fancy. It's also the daily driver so she is babied a bit, lol. We will probably just stick to the Shawnigan Route.

Yea, a buddy of ours said that too. I'm driving a 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road, nothing fancy. It's also the daily driver so she is babied a bit, lol. We will probably just stick to the Shawnigan Route.

aaol1's picture

sam
Victoria

Yea might be able to get through with your locker and crawl control, but Yea a 2015 is babied for sure haha

aaol1's picture

sam
Victoria

Yea where is boyds pit exactly? And how tight / tough is the access to reservoir?

BrandonF's picture

Brandon Faliszewski
Victoria

Boyd's pit is the same as Muir main. If any of you guys are on The VI Toyota page, someone posted a video of a first gen double cab Tacoma going through the hardest part last week. With a good line, a stock truck could make it through. It's not super obvious how to get to the reservoir from there though

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

getting from muir over to bear creek is a overgrown trail. more of a quad trail now. think 30 min at least of alders scratching both sides of your truck the whole way. if your not concerned with your paint then its super easy.
the trap to get onto the main at boyds isnt bad. we were the first group though and it was pretty soft. its much better now. From there you can take a qucik way to bear creek or go to tugwell lake, come down can opener and onto butler. then you can take butler all the way to bear creek.

I'll have to check that video out, I am all stock too. Soon though, she won't be! Paint isn't a big issue, so it's all good. Thanks for the help everyone!

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

this shot is coming through the tank trap at boyds

justincdst's picture

Justin
Sooke

I live in Sooke and have been keeping an eye on Butler Main. I have yet to find it locked or anyone there anymore but i have heard its only open from sun up to sun down. How are you getting into Muir, ive never seen that gate not locked past blueberry. Besides Forebay and North Main (usually pretty heavy logging traffic) I dont know of too many easy ins around Sooke.

Rich Metcalfe's picture

Rich Metcalfe
Victoria

Hey, I tried to go Renfrew road this past weekend and the first gate was locked. guess because of the fireban?? anybody know if they open it up again or if that's it for the year. I was there 3 weeks ago camping and everything was open it was awesome.

Chicken Nugget's picture

Ryan
Victoria

Made it to Diversion reservoir yesterday going up Forby rd from Jordan river. Was pretty easy, just couple spots where the road is half washed out into the valley but no problem for a small truck. Might be a little tight for a full size. Little bit of melting snow but not accumulating there yet.

Wingman's picture

Jeff Davies
Victoria

Sounds good. Forebay and East Main are one and the same aren't they? So have the barriers been removed?

Jay's picture
Jay

Jay
Langford

the piles of boulders? yes they have.
Here is me going over them . LOL

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