Francis Point Provincial Park

What a beautiful day! The sun beckoned this morning so I forgot about any paperwork and headed outside to enjoy. You just can’t pass up sunny January days sitting inside. I decided to follow Sunshine Coast Tourism‘s suggestion for #52weeksoftrails by heading to week #1 Francis Point Provincial Park.

Francis Pt 598 Francis Point is located in Pender Harbour…about 45 minutes from Arcturus Retreat. Well worth the drive! I’ve never taken the time to hike here before and I was pleasantly surprised. A perfect way to spend 15 minutes or an hour. A place for clearing your head and just taking in the view.

Francis Point Provincial Park

Francis Point Provincial Park

The entire park is along the Malaspina Strait in the Pacific Ocean and the sound of waves crashing on the ancient granite rocks is a soothing constant. This is easy hiking (not a cardio day) although hiking on the rocks makes for an uneven surface in places. There are 2 trails in the park. Either way, you start your journey here in front of a beautiful bay. Waves were crashing in the distance and I thought, “Love to see that up close”. Sure enough, the trail hugs the coastline and before I knew it I was getting a great view of crashing waves on huge granite boulders. Choosing to start left takes you down the longer trail that probably took 20 minutes to the surprise lighthouse at the end. Hard to say on time though…I just kept taking pictures and enjoying the view.

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Arbutus Trees

Arbutus Trees

Rocky Pacific coastline is a sure sign to find arbutus trees. These are the coolest trees. They keep their leaves all year and shed their bark instead. It leaves a perfectly smooth orange texture that you won’t find anywhere else. These trees grow right out of the boulders where it is hard to imagine how any tree could take root.

Circling back to my original starting point, I found the short trail that goes right. Just when I thought I wasn’t going to get any cardio for the day, I found the 50 or so steps that lead to an amazing viewpoint. So worth the burst of energy! I’ll definitely be back to enjoy these views. It would be very interesting to see it in different seasons…but I imagine it is always picture perfect when the sun shines bright.

Hello Pacific Ocean

Hello Pacific Ocean

Roberts Creek Provincial Park

Today was one of those perfect October days. Clear blue skies…short sleeve shirt temperatures…orange & yellow leaves falling everywhere…a perfect day to be outside. I knew I was enjoying one of those last perfect weather days of the year…but I didn’t realize just how special it was until I saw the news tonight and saw 20cm of snow in Calgary. Yes, I LOVE living on the edge of the Pacific Ocean!

Roberts Creek Provincial Park Picnic

Luckily, I attended an event in Roberts Creek this afternoon which got me out of the house and all the potential garden chores that I could have been focused on for the day. I made a special point of stopping by Roberts Creek Provincial Park on my way home. This is a lovely picnic area with ocean view tables and plenty of grassy area for kids to run and play.  I discovered it a few years ago in winter. The best part, is quick and easy access to the beach. This afternoon I had it all to myself. Seated on a huge piece of driftwood, jacket off & sunglasses on….this was my view to the left…

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and to the right (see what I mean about huge pieces of driftwood)….RC Beach 539

and nothing but the waves of the Pacific rolling in straight ahead.  My spot was facing west into the sun, so I couldn’t get any good photos of Vancouver Island in the distance. Such a welcome change after a week of mostly fog that has kept the sun hidden.

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I only wish I had brought a book along….I might have stayed for an hour. It felt so good to soak up some sun and listen to the waves crash. The water is so clear here…you could literally see inside the wave to the rocks below as they rolled in. Yes, this was the end of October on a Canadian beach….pretty darn special. A perfect afternoon on the Sunshine Coast.



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…
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Does it get any better than this?
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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….
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Skookumchuck Narrows

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Skookumchuck 388If 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.


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.

Roberts Creek Provincial Park – Dec 7, 2008

The sunshine was beautiful and the Sunshine Coast held up to its name today. I decided to go exploring in a park that I haven’t visited before, Roberts Creek Provincial Park.
It is located just down the block from “downtown” Roberts Creek. There is a nice grassy area with picnic tables and easy steps leading down to the beach. I was surprised to find actual sand here…most of the area beaches are rocky. The sand was only a small stretch, but it was very nice walking. It was probably just after high tide and the waves were rolling in. There is an amazing amount of driftwood along this stretch. A great place to curl up with a good book or have a picnic on a slightly warmer day.

A great day for fishing!

This little guy had just finished some amazing body surfing in the waves. Shortly after this picture, he rejoined his two friends about 5 meters into the water. A bit farther down the beach I came across a bright purple starfish. He had become stranded in the sand as the tide was moving out. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take a picture until after my partner threw him back into the ocean.