Sea to Sky Marine Trail

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by dut, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. dut

    dut Paddler

    Oct 28, 2008
    A five day kayaking trip that doesn't cost $200 for ferries and a drive back and forth across Vancouver island. Who wouldn't like that?

    This is a short description of a five day trip some of us took on the Sea to Sky Marine Trail. A group of six of us from the Sea Kayak Association of BC set out Tuesday morning, June 14, 2016 to have a look at the paddling opportunities based on the Sea to Sky Marine Trail campsites. What follows is description of some of the paddling and the campsites we visited.

    We set out from Porteau Cove Provincial Park. Porteau Cove is on the Squamish Highway. There are two boat launch ramps, so launching is simple if slippery and there are gently-sloped pebble beaches on either side too. Parking is free but we were requested to use a parking lot south of the train track crossing into the park. Free parking, I'm beginning to like this trip already.

    We set out under very grey skies and a wind of no consequence, paddled around Anvil Island to the west side of Howe Sound.

    Our first stop was to the Islet View campsite then to the Thornbrough Channel campsite. We just stopped for a look and continued on to Bain Creek.

    Bain Creek was our destination for our first night camping. Several of the campsites use a canoe run to land boats on rocky beaches as does Bain Creek. Six boats was more than this beach could accommodate. We had to lift four boats up to the steep bank to park the kayaks in the camping area. The camping area was rough but entirely satisfactory. That night we camped was the same night thata rain storm caused flooding in West Vancouver. The campsite didn't receive any real accumulations of water except for the tent that leaked in the night. If you walk through the camp up hill and to the south there is a very pretty lookout over the water.

    Our next destination was Plumper Cove Provincial Park on Keats Island. A couple of minor crossings are involved. The paddle is actually quite nice but there are some industrial aspects. The mills etc. really don't impose. Hey I didn't say it was perfect. The crossing to Keats crosses a ferry route so be on the lookout.

    Plumper Cove Marine Park is a very nice provincial park with campsites laid out, picnic benches, fire pits in most sites, and wood is for sale. I suggest you bypass the first beach and paddle around to the south-west facing beach which provided better access to the sunnier campsites. There is well water available but has a boil water advisory.

    Our next destination was Sir Thomas Lipton Park. Before paddling on to our destination for the day we paddled into Gibsons. An uneventful paddle. I'm told the scones were very good.

    Thomas Lipton Park is a Sunshine Coast Regional District park. Apparently they named it a park, built an outhouse and left it to it's own devices. Well it turned out very well, it is not developed but was actually a very nice place to camp. There are some houses overlooking the park beach but they do not encroach.

    We stopped at Halkett Bay Provincial Park for a look around and lunch but it is a climb up from the beach to the park.

    From Halkett Bay we paddled on to Ramilles Channel campsite. I think it was our favourite, certainly mine. It faces the back of Anvil Island and the east coast of Howe Sound but an altogether nice place to camp. It is a slightly steep loose gravel beach but no problems with access. The camping is on a ledge just above the beach. It would easily accept four, maybe more, tents. If the tide isn't too high camping on the beach is possible if you level out some gravel.

    Our last day was to paddle around the Christie Islet bird sanctuary and then ride the tide and wind to Porteau Cove just ahead of the rain.

    So if you want to try it out:

    Weather - Wind warnings are common. Usual inflow outflow pattern.
    Water - Not much available. Bain Creek campsite (or whatever the actual creek is at named that is there) was flowing well in this late spring season and there was well water at Plumper Cove. There is likely water at Halkett Bay, too, at his time of year although we didn't look closely for it.
    Boat Traffic - We didn't see much but I have to believe there will be a lot more in summer.
    Camping - Sites are rough. There is nothing wrong with them but they are not manicured sites. Finding some of these sites will require careful examination. There are signs posted but varying degrees of visibility. The BC Marine Trails website provides coordinates (

    We didn't paddle to the sites north of Islet View, just S of the Defence Islands, maybe another time. I think that everyone in our group thought that this trip was a success and we were happy with the campsites.

    Finally I want to thank BC Marine Trails. This trail is a real asset for the Lower Mainland paddling community

    Photos by Nick
  2. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

    May 15, 2005
    Great info, dut.

    You have shown how easy it is to get out there and have a multi-day full circuit trip right in the back yard of a bunch of large population centres.
    here's a quick mapview of only the places you mentioned [ I have turned off all other sites ]:

    On Saturday, I manned a BC Marine trails booth at the MEC paddlefest. Although there was reduced attendance from other years because of the rain, I was astounded by the proportion of booth visitors that knew about the new sites in Howe Sound - and the high proportion of those who actually had been out to some of them. And I was greatly encouraged that a significant proportion of the people were young [say early 20's] - and interestingly of those, a good proportion were female.