Powell River Visitors Bureau has produced a brilliant map of the entire region detailing, not only the Sunshine Coast Trail, but the Powell Forest Canoe Route and  Desolation Sound. The full-colour map includes topographic information, logging roads, and other routes of interest to mountain bikers, horseback riders and hikers. Key scuba diving, kayaking, climbing and camping locations are also highlighted. Download the map in PDF format here.

Topographical Map: Geological Survey of Canada 1:50,000 series sheets for the trail are 92 F/15 & 92 F/16.

Click to View Map

The community of Powell River has it all, a remote, multi-day canoe route, a kayaker's paradise and now a 175 km bush trek. For info on the first two, follow the links: the Powell Forest Canoe Route and Desolation Sound. The latter Sunshine Coast Trail is the most recent development and, though complete, upgrading is expected to continue for some years yet.

the hulks 004

Known as "The Hulks," a flotilla of WWII era transports rings the deep water booming ground adjacet to the Powell River paper mill, providing protection from the bluster.     

The entire trail is marked with bright orange squares though more detailed signage will be gradually added. Some campsites are rustic in the extreme but then again that's why we go there. The trail is so new in fact that this author has yet to hike its entire length. I did however live in Powell River for five years and have tramped and camped throughout the region including many of the areas embraced by the new trail. Since that was well-before the trail was ever conceived the description below will be necessarily scant.

Though on the British Columbia mainland, Powell River is an isolated community sandwiched between Desolation Sound to the north and Jervis Inlet to the south. The Sunshine Coast Trail runs from land' s end at Sarah Point southward to the end of the road at the Saltery Bay ferry terminal. Ferries connect the mill town with Comox on Vancouver Island and, via the Sechelt Peninsula, to the Lower Mainland. Twice-daily bus service provides a car-free link from Vancouver. Refer to Getting to the Sunshine Coast for full details.

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Dentalia

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