Level: Moderate

Distance: 21.3 km

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Time: 2-3 days

Elevation Change: 340 m

Season: Year-round

Access: See Getting to the Sunshine Coast Trail

Catch the first bus of the day to reach the trailhead by late afternoon. From the bus depot in Westview hop in a cab to complete the road portion of the journey. Taxi fare to Lund should be around $30. From here a water taxi, costing $50 for up to six people, will be required to reach Sarah Point. Advanced reservations are a must. There are a number of rustic campsites at the beginning of the trail. The sun-baked bluffs of Sarah Point itself are an ideal perch from which to witness the renowned sunsets of the Sunshine Coast. Load up on water, however, before boarding the water taxi as the point is dry. If blustery weather rather than a gentle sunset greets you then push on to Myrmidon Cove 4 km away on the more protected side of Malaspina Peninsula. Myrmidon Cove is endowed with water but no other amenities. On the way expect pleasant views overlooking Desolation Sound and one small beach at Feather Cove, 2.8 km from the beginning of the trail.

Ocean views and saltwater access will continue off and on through much of the next day. Early-rising bird watchers will want to approach Hinder Lake quietly to avoid scaring the waterfowl away. Use extra care in the vicinity of Hinder Lake as it is a source of water for nearby residents and hikers alike. The Knob [km 7.6] in particular provides vistas of Okeover Inlet. At km 9.6 a side trail leads down to a campsite on Cochrane Bay endowed with both water and oysters. Be sure to check with the Red Tide Hotline before harvesting the latter.

Alternately join the resident beaver for a snack any day of the week at [km 12.1] Wednesday Lake. The feature of the beaver lodge is double-digested bark. If you thought to pack along a lightweight fly rod then perhaps you can tease a trout or two out of the pond and into the frying pan instead. The campsite at Wednesday Lake has drinking water, a pit toilet and the plaintive cries of loons to lull you into slumber. Rather than scooping water directly from the lake, dip into the outfall just beyond the camp to reduce the amount of suspended particulate matter. Lest the beaver sports a fever treat all water to be on the safe side. Giardia is no way to start a vacation.

Gwendoline Hills Trail

The final 9 kilometres on this first stage of the Sunshine Coast Trail are the most taxing. Though you might find a trickle here and a drip there, a reliable source of drinking water is nonexistent. Likewise, there are no established campsites along the way. The trail primarily winds through forest including the occasional pocket of old-growth with viewpoints few and far between. Take them in whenever they crop up. Just past Wednesday Lake a short side trail leads to a viewpoint overlooking Okeover Inlet. At the 16 km mark views in the opposite direction overlooking the Strait of Georgia can be had from Manzanita Bluffs.

A rustic campsite with water and picnic table has been established just 100 metres beyond the end of this section at Fern Creek but far superior alternatives abound just a short distance down Malaspina Road. Okeover Inlet Provincial Campground offers the least developed facilities but running water and pit toilets will be appreciated. If undertaking the Sunshine Coast Trail in small, easily-digestable segments or otherwise wanting to bailout at this point call for a taxi from the government wharf here. Nearby Y-Knot Campsite [(604) 483-3243] offers basic camping plus hot showers. Just prior to the end of the trail a well-marked side trail leads to Cedar Lodge B & B [(604) 483-4414] for those in dire need of both a hot water soak and a pillow. Reservations are required.

The End


Salal

Salal

Though not a popular trail-side snack in modern times, salal berries are not only edible, they are quite tasty. Perhaps the "hairiness" of the berries or the grainy texture imparted by their many, tiny seeds is a turnoff to jaded modern palettes. Being plentiful throughout the coast, salal berries were an important component of pre-European diets hereabouts. Aboriginal groups generally consumed salal berries directly from the bush or processed them into a kind of fruit leather for storage. These cakes were then reconstituted with water and served mixed with the omnipresent oolichan grease. An acquired taste, no doubt. The deep purple colouring of the berries found use in dying baskets. Salal berries are presently used primarily in jams and pies. The bright, leathery foliage is commercially harvested for use in floral displays world-wide.

Illustration by Manami Kimura