Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park is a force of nature. Unfortunately for me, it is as far from Arcturus Retreat on the Sunshine Coast as you can go without getting on a ferry. [Map] It seems the only time we go is when we have family & friends from far away. I really enjoy this hike. It is easy terrain, the forest is abundant with life and there is an excellent reward at the end of the hike.
Today was a misty/rainy morning, but we decided to make the best of it. The forest canopy is thick enough to protect you from light rain and it stopped altogether midway into the trek. This trail showcases life in the BC rainforest. Ferns are found everywhere, and many are quite large. When it is dry, kids would love a game of hide & seek. Moss grows thick on trees and there were a number of large mushrooms along the trail.
Most of this area was logged at the beginning of the 20th century, but the 2nd growth forest is vibrant and healthy. A few very large stumps remind you of what these trees can become if left to grow for hundreds of years.
Skookumchuck is from a First Nation’s phrase meaning “strong water”, a fitting name for the home of the fastest tidal rapids in North America. Skookumchuck Narrows is a narrow space at the opening of Sechelt Inlet where it meets Jervis Inlet and the Pacific Ocean. As the tide comes in, the ocean is forced through the narrow opening at high speed. A very high tide will create current of more than 15 knots and result in standing waves for whitewater kayaking or even surfing. These are known as the Sechelt Rapids. As the tide goes out, the ocean is forced back out of the inlet to the ocean creating whirlpools strong enough to sink a boat. In between tide changes, the water can be as calm as glass. Always consult the tide schedule to time your visit.
Today we caught a medium current. Not enough to bring out the daredevil kayakers, but still pretty amazing to watch. There are two viewing points at the end of the trail and a fork in the trail with about 10 minutes left in the hike. Roland Point is where you want to watch the incoming tide for rapids. North Point is where you want to watch whirlpools at ebb tide. There is a large rocky outcrop at Roland Point…the perfect spot to rest after your 4km hike. Bring a light lunch, drink some water and take some photos of this natural wonder. Enjoy the show.
If this isn’t reward enough after a great hike, take a few minutes to stop by the Egmont Heritage Centre across the road from the entrance. My favourite post-hike activity is a delicious meal overlooking the inlet at either Backeddy Pub or West Coast Wilderness Lodge…both only 5 minutes away.