Smuggler Cove

What’s a girl to do with a free Saturday afternoon? By all means, go hiking! This time of year I am always looking for hikes with big rewards at the end. The skies are blue, the sun is shining and being outside is the best way to spend the day. Last weekend I took the opportunity to visit Smuggler Cove Provincial Park…40 minutes from my doorstep.

Smuggler Cove Provincial Park

Smuggler Cove Provincial Park

Smuggler Cove is an easy hike with big rewards. It is very well signed…no one is going to get lost here. The first half of the park has a number of boardwalks that wind through a marsh. Very interesting to see ducks and frogs and various creatures in this quiet wetland.



To me, the real enjoyment begins when you pass the sign that says “organized trail ends here”. Don’t let this stop you…the best is yet to come. The next part of the trail is still very well marked…but there are some stairs and a bit of elevation change. It’s not strenuous at all, just some uneven ground. The real reward comes when you reach the ocean…
Smuggler Cove 468
Does it get any better than this?
Smuggler Cove 473
Have a seat on the warm granite boulders or the memorial bench and soak up the sun and the view. I could sit and think here quietly for hours. Thormanby Island is just offshore and the southern tip of Texada Island (the largest Gulf Island) is in the distance. It is a perfect spot for dreaming….
Smuggler Cove 469

Homesite Creek

Today was a perfect day for exploring.  The rain seemed to be holding off and I had 4 hours and no obligations. I decided to visit a new area where I had never hiked before…Homesite Creek near Secret Cove.

Homesite Creek 376Homesite Creek 368There are actually two separate hiking areas along Homesite Creek. The first area I tried was the Homesite Creek Campground. Shiny new highway signs recently installed make it easy to find. Leaving Highway 101 takes you to a gravel forestry road. Not far in, you find the entrance to the Suncoaster Trail…a 37km trail stretching all the way to Egmont Road. I’m saving that for another day.  Follow the forestry road about 2km and you come to the next sign. You can park here along the road, or drive another .5 km and reach the campsite entrance.

The area is hiking only and relatively easy in that there is limited elevation change. There is some very uneven ground and a few fallen trees to climb over.

Homesite Creek 369

Homesite Creek 371There is no signage along the trail except at the entrance, but I figured anything that looked this inviting was worth a try. Sure enough, about 5-10 minutes into the forest I came upon an amazing giant. Clearly bigger than everything around it. This is when I wish I had a hiking partner so there would be a person in the photo to show just how big this tree was. It would have taken 4 people with outstretched arms to encircle it.

The area felt like a flat river bed, but clearly this tree has been there for a very long time. Soon I came to a creek and a small waterfall. A week of 20C temperatures have greatly increased spring snow melt and 30mm of overnight rain had the creek running high. Follow the creek and you’ll come to the campground area. It looked like a nice spot for a summer day. Each campsite was level, surrounded by trees, and complete with picnic table. All convenient to the trail, but enough space to not feel crowded. The entire hike roundtrip was about 45 minutes. I suspect there were trails on the other side of the creek, but I couldn’t find a safe place to cross the cold rushing water.

With available time and energy, I decided to stop at the Homesite Creek Park on the other side of Highway 101.

Homesite Creek 377Homesite Creek Park is basically right across the highway from the Homesite Creek Falls 400m sign above. There is a small parking area right along the highway and these signs mark the entrance. This area is very well marked with signage and maps. There are two trail loops to try, one on either side of the creek. It doesn’t show on the map, but I managed to cross from one to the other above the largest waterfall. This takes a bit of climbing, so wouldn’t be an option for everyone. If you stay on the main trails, it is fairly easy hiking. Only small elevation changes and a wide path in some areas. I tried the southern loop, so I’ll have to come back and try the northern loop another day. Other than the two loops, you can also connect down to Brooks Road which I assume takes you near Smuggler Cove. Good to know there is plenty of adventure waiting for another opportunity.

Homesite Creek 379Even if you are only up for a short hike, follow the southern loop as far as the waterfalls.

Homesite Creek 380I thought this would be a fantastic summer spot. It is shallow enough to wade in for a cold waterfall shower, though I wonder if there would be as much water flowing in the dry season. Perfectly placed next to the waterfall is a commemorative bench welcoming you to sit and watch for a while.

All in all, a very good day in the forest with more area exploration opportunities for another day.



Smuggler Cove – Oct 16, 2011

Today was a beautiful day….lots of sunshine, no wind, and temps in the teens (50’s F). One of those few days where I am almost happy not to have guests….so I can get out and experience the best the Sunshine Coast has to offer myself. Today I chose a new hiking adventure…Smuggler Cove Provincial Park.

Smuggler Cove is located in Halfmoon Bay…about 45 minutes from Arcturus Retreat B&B. It is a marine park with anchorage for boats and a 4km trail system from the land access point. Signs inside the park explain that it gets its name first from being a point to smuggle Chinese labor into Canada at the time of the transcontinental railroad, and second from American prohibition. Alcohol was smuggled from nearby Texada Island and eventually across the border to the US.

The first part of the trail is super easy hiking. I wasn’t paying close enough attention to note if it was completely wheelchair accessible…but it is definitely baby stroller ready. Long boardwalks like this take visitors past marshy areas. This area is not home to massive trees, but instead many many young deciduous trees. I hadn’t noticed how many leaves have already fallen until I saw this stretch of empty trees. The season is definitely changing as overnight lows are now into the single digits…upper 40’s F.
About 1/2 of the way down the trail, this even ground ends and the trail becomes narrower and rocky. It is still relatively easy hiking with small elevation changes, but there are stairs and lots of rocks. Hiking books and/or walking poles come in handy protecting ankles and assisting with balance.



The trail loop at the end is completely worth the reward. One easy climb up a bluff and “Hello Pacific Ocean”. Imagine being the passengers on this lone boat at anchor in the cove. Nothing but stars and a full moon tonight to enjoy. Summer is a more popular time for boats, but crowds are still unlikely.



This is my favourite spot. I must have sat out on the huge boulder for 30 minutes with no other human in sight. A sailboat off in the distance and the sound of gently lapping waves and a few birds…nothing to spoil the moment. An excellent inspiration spot…perfect for reading, painting, writing, or just dreaming. I’ll definitely be back to enjoy this view. The southern tip of Texada Island is off in the distance and Thormanby Island is closer just out of camera sight to my left.

Arbutus trees line the shoreline. The tree best suited for craggly rocky outcrops. It is the coolest tree that calls the BC coastline and areas of the Mediterranean home. It doesn’t loose its leaves, but instead sheds its bark each summer. This leaves the trees smooth and a unique orange hue.

I am going to have to find time for more hikes in Smuggler Cove.