Hiking on the Sunshine Coast

 

Not unlike the rest of British Columbia, the Sunshine Coast area has an abundance of good walks and hikes pretty much for all ages. There are so many Provincial Parks, all of which contain great trails, and so many we didn’t even get to because, well, we only had so many days! We did tick a few off though, so I have provided some photos and explanations of each, below.

Skookumchuck Narrows. Not to be missed, particularly if you can get there for what is known as an XL tide. Approximately 4 km each way, this is a family friendly walk which arrives at the two viewing platforms, overlooking an extremely narrow passage of water between two particularly large water bodies: the Georgia Strait and the Sechelt Inlet.

As the tide changes, the huge amount of water passing through this narrow passage causes massive rapids (which people kayak and surf on) and whirlpools. We were lucky to catch a ‘-XL’ tide, which translates to the whirlpools being at their largest. Hot tip: whirlpool activity is best viewed from the North Point viewing area and the rapids from the Roland viewing area. There is also a cute little bakery (closed M&T) which sells delicious cinnamon buns and iced coffees, among other things. The whole experience is unique and easy to pull off – it is only about an hour drive from Sechelt and the walk itself is easy.

Francis Point Lighthouse. Park in the Provincial Park and walk approximately 30 minutes along a coastal path to a very underwhelming lighthouse. Trust me, the lighthouse is not the reason for this walk, the coastline views are! The path is basically along the coast the entire way, with some roots and rocks to keep you on your toes. It would be a fabulous spot to set up with a picnic and binoculars – I feel the chances of spotting whales here are better than most other spots I have found in BC. The ocean and its expanse stretch for miles and there is an abundance of huge flat boulders which double as seats to choose from. We did spot a number of garter snakes though (harmless, but check before you sit!).

Pender Hill. Like many of the walks I have done on the Gulf Islands, this climb was short, steep and gave us a view which felt relatively undeserved. It took about 20 minutes of hard labour to reach the top, and then another 5 along a mostly flat path before we came out at the viewpoint. Overlooking the ocean, Pender Harbour, Mt. Daniel and about a dozen lakes in between the view was certainly beautiful, and captivating too, as there was just so much to take in. It took us almost 20 minutes to get back down, leaving us feeling well rewarded for a 60 minute hike. Although it was our intention, we never ended up climbing Mt Daniel, which looks to have similar views from a different perspective. It is considered intermediate, takes about 3 hours and is 5 km long.

Smugglers Cove. Incredibly close to our first campsite (Homesite Creek), Smugglers Cove is an in and out walk along a series of boardwalks to a peninsula at Smugglers Cove. The surrounding water is crystal clear and there are lots of spots for swimming on the way. The boardwalks go over many a marsh slash swamp, where it is possible to see an abundance of wildlife (mainly in the form of birds, beavers and garter snakes). The name Smugglers Cove originated from when the Chinese had been laid off following the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway and were attempting to access the USA.

Soames Hill. A short, snappy 2.7km hike very near to the Langdale ferry terminal, combined with the nearby Persephone Brewery makes for an excellent day trip from Vancouver. We did it before the ferry, so we did it quite fast (knowing that every extra minute spent hiking was a minute less at the brewery). There are a few starting points to the trial: we started at Esperanza Road as we knew there was ample parking. It took us about 20 minutes to the top – there were lots of stairs and we moved relatively quickly, but the effort was over all too soon and we were rewarded with panoramic views over Gibsons and the ocean.

Some of the walks and parks which remain on my list for next time include Mt Daniel, Cliff Gilker Park, Kinnikinnick Park and Sergeant Bay Provincial Park.

Andy in front of an Arbutus: coastal trees in BC whose bark strips away in a multitude of colours

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