Walking and hiking adventures beckon as soon as you disembark the ferry in Snug Cove.
There is a large trail map in the kiosk next to the ferry terminal. You can also pick up a trail map at the Bowen Island Visitor Information Centre.
Crippen Regional Park
Crippen Regional Park surrounds Snug Cove so you can walk off the ferry and within five minute find yourself on a temperate rainforest trial. For an introduction to Crippen Regional Park, watch this Metro Vancouver Parks’ video. You’ll find full park information on their website and you can download a brochure.
Trails near Snug Cove
There are three popular hiking trails close to Snug cove; Killarney Lake Loop trail and Dorman Point look-out are both part of Crippen Regional Park. See Crippen trail map here. Mt. Gardner is the island’s highest peak and on a clear day the views from the north summit are stunning. There are three trailheads and many trails so hikers have a variety of routes to choose from, including going up one side of the mountain and down the other.
Dorman Point Look-out
A short 2km/1mi hike, approximately 1-hour return, that offers rewarding views of Howe Sound. From the ferry terminal take the wooden board walk along Snug Cove harbour. Rated a moderate hike, with a 300-meter elevation gain, there is one very steep section just before the peak that is slippery due to loose gravel. Good hiking shoes are required and caution is advised – this is a hike not a walk, so it’s not recommended for everyone. The arbutus-tree summit offers views to Whytecliffe Park in West Vancouver across the Queen Charlotte Channel, Passage Island at the entrance to Howe Sound, Point Grey/ University of British Columbia (UBC) to the south, and on a clear day, Vancouver Island on the horizon. Dorman Point has a bench and is a pleasant spot for a picnic, but be sure to leave no trace – pack out all garbage.
“…a meditative walk through it’s old-growth trees, opening to sunny long grass fields, being surprised by the beauty of a sudden birch forest, the stillness of the memorial garden with breathtaking vistas of the surrounding water and the fruitful blackberry bushes lining the exits and roadway.”
The Killarney Lake Loop trail is the most popular hiking route on Bowen Island. The walk is 9km in total and takes approximately 2.5 hours return if you go around the lake. However, if you don’t have the time or energy to walk around the lake, you’ll find nice views at the parking/picnic area and along the southern shore. Allow 1.5-2 hours return for the shorter route. The rocky beach on the western side of the lake offers panoramic views of the lake. Non-motorized boats, like kayaks and canoes are allowed on the lake.
Mount Gardner is Bowen Island’s tallest mountain with an elevation of 719m. The challenging hike culminates with panoramic views – Vancouver to the south, the Sunshine Coast to the north and Vancouver Island to the west. There are three trailheads and a variety of different routes that lead you to the north summit. At the top you’ll find two helicopter platforms that provide the perfect spot to enjoy both lunch and the views. Budget five to seven hours if you walk from the ferry terminal and do a round trip. Cycling, driving or busing (#282 weekends, #280 daily) to the trailheads are also options. Be prepared with water and snacks as well as good hiking shoes. For detailed information about all of Mt. Gardner’s routes and for the most updated map that you can download, visit Bowen Island Trail Society.
“Our hike on Mount Gardner was challenging but rewarding. The 3 hour trek uphill was filled with sweat and photo stops and ended with a beautiful view.”
About Bowen Island Wildlife
When exploring Bowen’s trails, be sure to tread carefully and keep a watchful eye for wildlife. Listen for woodpeckers and owls in the woods and scan the shorelines for seals, otters, herons, eagles and fish. Blacktail deer wander freely and you may just see – or hear – a beaver in Killarney Creek or Lake. Typically Chum salmon return to spawn in October or November and you may see them from the Causeway. Coho salmon return a bit later but they are nocturnal, so harder to spot.
Only walk on marked trails – it’s crucial to preserving sensitive natural habitats for native species. Animals rely on their surroundings, so please do not remove anything from the beaches or forests.