Distance: 29.9 km
Time: 2-3 days
Elevation Change: 140 m
Access: See Getting to the Sunshine Coast Trail
From the start at Malaspina Road the Thunder Ridge Trail passes through second-growth forest with a sprinkling of old-growth. These lone ancients are likely seed trees that were left behind when the forest was originally downed. One big and gnarly Douglas fir of note measures 2.3 metres through the middle. Big Gnarly, as the locals coincidentally call it, will be found 3.5 kilometres from the start of this section at km 24.8. One further ancient giant overlooks the 28.5 km mark.
An effigy gazes seaward from the bell tower at Sacred Heart Church on the shores of Sliammon Indian Reserve.
The 3.6 km stretch of trail from Plummer Creek Rd. [25.2 km] to Southview Road is flat and easy so expect to make good time. The middle part of Toquenetch Trail, as this section is called, follows a small creek where spawning salmon may be spotted from late summer onwards. Upon reaching Southview Road [28.8 km] turn left and cross the bridge, taking the first right which should be marked Homestead Campsite. Just beyond this intersection look for the trail plunging back into the forest on the left. Homestead Campsite, with creek water, an outhouse, fire pit and picnic tables, will be found a short distance from the little-used side road.
The next 8.9 km section, knitting together the Marathon and Appleton Canyon Trails, is also fairly easy going with varied scenery. Each step now takes you further from the coastal environment as the trail winds inland. A number of bluffs in the vicinity of km 31.6 afford welcomed views. Linger to enjoy them as the trail continues through a horror-show clear-cut immediately upon leaving the bluffs. Follow plastic survey tape and metal markers for approximately 200 metres to pick your way through the mayhem. Reiveleys Pond [km 33.5] too may dispense a few moments of quiet reflection though on a hot day a cool dip might be a more satisfying reward for your efforts. The campsite at Appleton Creek offers the usual primitive amenities. Sixty metres past the main site the trail forks with the left leading to Wilde Road and an outhouse and the right continuing through Appleton Canyon. Follow the latter route to reach a succession of tumbling waterfalls and numerous suitable campsites at creekside. The two-kilometre Appleton Canyon is undeveloped at this time so the usual cautions regarding wilderness sanitation apply. Upon reaching Wilde Road [km 37.7] turn right and look for the Sliammon Lakes Trail 40 metres downhill on the opposite side of the road.
The Appleton Canyon segment of the Sunshine Coast Trail drops past a succession of cascades including Gorge Falls, Bandit Falls and Sylph Falls. Apologies for the poor image quality: taken with an Apple iPad. That will never happen again.
Wilde Road to Wildwood
While Wilde Road leads down to Sliammon Indian reserve and fish hatchery, the Sunshine Coast Trail continues east, skirting the edge of Powell River's wildest, wooded suburb 8 kilometres away. Initially the route marches through forest of mixed second and old-growth reaching Theyetl Lake [km 38.8], Sliammon Lake [km 39.2], Dogleg Pond [km 41.5] then Little Sliammon Lake [km 42.5] in quick succession. Numerous campsites have been established along the way with only those on Sliammon Lake boasting outhouses. All of the lakes are stocked with trout and offer birding opportunities. At km 44.9 the trail abruptly veers left onto an old logging road. Follow the road for 700 metres to a wide turnaround with left and right branches. The right branch leads to Sutherland Street in Wildwood while the left is called Scout Trail and is the continuation of the Sunshine Coast Trail. The road branches to the right again after 100 metres, finally petering out after 800 metres or more to become a proper footpath. If in doubt stay with the orange markers.
As you gradually gain altitude numerous bluffs open up. The best view hereabouts however is from the summit of Scout Mountain 20 minutes or so off the main trail at km 47.4. Nearly two kilometres following this detour the trail empties onto a gravel road. Though Powell Lake is clearly visible to the left don't be beguiled as your route continues to the right, 40 metres uphill. Less than a kilometre later the trail spills out into Kinsmen Park at lakeside. At the 50 click mark this is the end of the second stage and fittingly the Shinglemill Pub & Restaurant next door is open for business. Unless continuing deeper into the hinterland call for a cab from the pub after toasting your success. Kinsmen Park is, incidentally, the end of the <http://www.car-free.ca/bc-car-free/canoeing/the-powell-forest-canoe-route.html>Powell Forest Canoe Route.