4 Perfect Salish Sea Hikes

Ferries + Hiking = Early Spring Bliss

Photo: Stephen Hui

I love taking ferries. Catching a ferry on a hiking trip is even better.

Lucky for me (and you), the islands of the Salish Sea are home to a variety of trails good for hiking in winter and indeed year-round.

Here are four excuses to ride B.C. Ferries, er, rewarding all-season hikes in the Gulf Islands and Howe Sound.

Reminders: Check trail reports, bring the essentials, leave a trip plan with a responsible person, and leave no trace

Bodega Ridge, Galiano Island

Photo: Stephen Hui

Round trip: 8 km

Ferry: Tsawwassen-Sturdies Bay (with vehicle)

The views from Bodega Ridge, the highest point on northern Galiano Island, are as stunning as they are effortlessly gained.

Find the Bodega Ridge Provincial Park sign at the top of Cottage Way, and set off on the gently rising path. Endless views of the Gulf Islands are just around the corner atop sun-soaked bluffs. Mind the cliff edge.

READ MORE: The best doughnut in Squamish

The best scenery is before the 2-km mark, but continue along the ridge for quiet and additional vistas. Turn around when you hit a dirt road.

Mount Maxwell, Saltspring Island

Photo: Stephen Hui

Round trip: 6.5 km

Ferry: Tsawwassen-Long Harbour (with vehicle)

From the top of Mount Maxwell, scan the vicinity for bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and turkey vultures.

Start at the Armand Way trailhead. Stick with Trail #4, and begin a clockwise loop. Meet Trail #1 near the mountaintop toilets and parking lot. Look out at Burgoyne Bay and Maple Bay from the fenced-off cliffs of Baynes Peak in Mount Maxwell Provincial Park.

Follow the fence west to pick up Trail #6. Take Trails #11, #2, and #5. Upon reaching Trail #4, turn left to return to Armand Way.

Mount Gardner, Bowen Island

Photo: Stephen Hui

Round trip: 17 km

Ferry: Horseshoe Bay-Snug Cove (on foot)

Foot passengers can scale Bowen Island’s tallest peak and be back in Vancouver for dinner.

From the Snug Cove ferry dock, walk up Bowen Island Trunk Road for a few minutes to find a trailhead on the right. Enter Crippen Regional Park, and head north on the Alder Grove, Killarney Creek, and Killarney Lake Loop trails. Forty minutes from Snug Cove, exit left to Mount Gardner Road and go right. Take a left on Hikers Trail Road for the Mount Gardner trailhead.

There are several ways to ascend and descend the mountain. My preferred route up starts with the Skid Trail, takes the Summit Trail over the south peak, and continues on to the north peak for vantages of Howe Sound and Burrard Inlet.

On the way down, I recommend following the North Mount Gardner Trail and Handloggers Trail to Hikers Trail Road. Descend to the Mount Gardner trailhead, and return to Snug Cove.

Lookout Peak, Keats Island

Photo: Stephen Hui

Round trip: 9 km

Ferries: Horseshoe Bay-Langdale and Langdale-Keats Landing (on foot)

A tour of Keats Island entails two ferry rides each way, if you’re coming from Metro Vancouver, but it’s well worth the hassle.

From the Bible camp at Keats Landing, start by taking the Salmon Rock Trail to the gorgeous southwest toe of the island. Head back to the camp, go east on Keats Road, left on the Marine Park Trail, and right on the Lookout Peak Trail.

After basking in the vistas of Lookout Peak, continue east then south to Keats Road. Turn left and head to Keats Island’s other ferry dock at Eastbourne, where you can catch a boat to Langdale. Note: Eastbourne departures are by request only.

Stephen Hui is the author of Best Hikes and Nature Walks With Kids In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, which comes out in May 2022. His first two books, Destination Hikes and 105 Hikes, were #1 B.C. bestsellers.

Learn more: 105hikes.com