Access: See Introduction

Level: Challenging

Distance: 17 km

Time: 6.5 hr

Elevation Change: 756 m

Topographical Map: 92 G/6

Click to View Map

Season: Year Round

The easiest way to reach the trailhead to Mount Gardner is go straight up Government Road from the ferry dock turning right onto Mount Gardner Road near the Bowen Island Community School. Continue past the recycling depot to the Killarney Lake Picnic Area. A more attractive but roundabout route would be to follow the previous hike as far as the picnic area at the outfall of Killarney Lake.

From the dam either stay on the road or follow the lakeside in a clockwise direction to where a gravel bar allows unimpeded access to the lakeshore. Cross the bridge here and look for a trail leading left, away from the lake. Upon reaching Mount Gardner Road turn right and walk as far as the next road on the left. The paved road changes names at this point with Mount Gardner Road continuing uphill as a gravel road. If hiking in a hurry or on a mountain bike stay with the secondary road to reach the summit in record time.

Looking back from Artisan Lane above Mt Gardner Road reveals an exquisite panorama overlooking Snug Cove            

For a more pleasant hiking experience however, climb Mount Gardner Road for 20 minutes or so to just beyond the gate which blocks public vehicle access. A short distance further on, clearly-marked Skid Trail leads off to the left dropping down at first to a creek crossing then up again. The route is decidedly up for the next half-hour before branching into two trails. The right fork leads back to Mount Gardner access road while the left fork, now called Short Cut, stays with the forest. Take the short cut, bearing left when you reach Mount Gardner South Trail. As you might expect the access road lies to the right. Forty minutes further on bear right and continue climbing through the steep switchbacks of the Old Trail. Head first to the 756-metre South Peak, just to say you did it, then cut over to North Peak for a panorama overlooking Howe Sound. The lower North Peak is topped with a microwave transmission site.

Return via Mount Gardner North Trail for more views of Keats Island and the Sechelt Peninsula beyond it. To avoid retracing your steps descend the mountain over either the Bluewater Trail or Bowen Bay Trail. A rudimentary bus service operates hourly during morning and evening rush hours Monday to Friday. If able to reach Bowen Bay Road between 4 and 6 pm plan on the flagging down the bus. Expect the bus across the road from the foot of Bowen Bay Trail at about 20 minutes after the hour. Get a transfer as it is usable throughout the TransLink system of the Lower Mainland.


The End


Dentalia Shells

These thin, tubular mollusks formed the currency of commerce throughout the Pacific Northwest as long as 3000 years ago. Pre-European civilization is often considered a barter economy, with, for instance, coastal tribes swapping oolichan grease directly for prized Oregon obsidian. Commodity traders, however, could rely on this wampum to close a transaction when interest in the goods was decidedly one-sided. Called hykwa in Chinook jargon, dentalia shells possessed all the necessary attributes of money, being portable, recognizable and durable but rare and desirable enough to foster trade. Being available in a variety of sizes, the tusk-like shells were even divisible into small change. Professional traders are known to have tattooed measuring lines on their forearms as a handy calculator of individual shell values. Only a handful of groups, including the Nuu-chah-nulth in the vicinity of Tofino, possessed dentalia in quantities sufficient enough to make them wealthy. Harvesting the deep water mollusks was no easy undertaking however. From a dugout canoe a long, broom-like apparatus was thrust straight down into the muddy sea bottom then retrieved. With any luck a shell or two would be trapped amongst the stiff twigs at the end of the handle. Dentalia were also ostentatiously displayed as symbols of wealth and power in the form of body adornments. Perhaps most recognizable are the breast plates invariably worn by cheesy Hollywood Indians.

Illustration by Manami Kimura