About the Sea to Sky Marine Trail
The Sea to Sky Marine Trail is part of two major trails networks in BC and Canada: The TransCanada Trail and the BC Marine Trails Network. In June 2015 the new trail was officially opened. This included six new campsites. There are also several access points to the trail and new signage to encourage paddlers to experience this increasingly popular outdoor recreational area. Three existing provincial parks and a regional park are also part of the trail system.
Many members of BC Marine Trails Network Association and Sea Kayak Association of BC have worked on this project, surveying sites and clearing and preparing the landings and camping areas. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers from Sea Kayak Association of BC and BC Marine Trails composting toilets have now been installed on the six recreation sites.
The concept of the Sea to Sky Marine Trail network started with the need to connect the Sea to Sky Trail land route’s southern terminus in Squamish with the Trans Canada Trail in West Vancouver. Developing a connecting land route to Sea to Sky Trail standards was too hard as the east side of Howe Sound is mostly cliffs over water with the railway and Highway 99 dominating the lowest elevations. The Howe Sound Crest Trail was felt to be too strenuous,being almost mountaineering. The obvious alternative was a water route.
As the concept evolved it became apparent that this was much more than just a solution of convenience. For many years recreational use of Howe Sound waterways has been much less than other local bodies of water. The pollution from some specific sources such as the Britannia mine site, the Woodfibre pulp mill and the chemical plant in Squamish had contaminated the waters to a serious extent. As these sources have been largely addressed, the ecosystem began to rebound. The presence of pods of dolphins, grey whales and orcas highlight the recovering health of the marine environment.
This created the opportunity to develop a major new recreational amenity right in Vancouver’s back yard.
A Marine Trail is not a single linear route but rather a network of options. Canoe and kayak travel is slow and Howe Sound is very big. With paddling speeds of four to eight kilometres per hour (or slower with strong headwinds) the journey the length of the Sound is a multi-day event, so a paddler needs somewhere secure to spend a few nights. For years, there were only three water-accessible official public camping sites: Halkett Bay Marine Provincial Park on Gambier Island, Plumper Cove Marine Provincial Park on Keats Island and Porteau Cove Provincial Park on the eastern shoreline.The most crucial task was to create new water accessible campsites located within a reasonable distance of each other. Months of field research, supported by the SLRD, Recreation Sites & Trails BC and the BC Marine Trails Network Association, identified several potential sites. Following the checking and inventory of the campsites, Recreation Sites and Trails BC took the lead on securing them with official Recreation Siie status.
The Sea to Sky Marine Trail is a multi-jurisdictional project. There are at least ten significant stakeholders, mostly provincial, regional or local governments and many other interests throughout the network.
The major Stakeholders include:
• Recreation Sites and Trails BC – six new Recreation Sites
• BC Parks – Halkett Bay, Porteau Cove and Plumper Cove Provincial Parks
• Squamish Nation
• Squamish-Lillooet Regional District – Area D – Two Recreation Sites along the northwestern shore of Howe Sound
• Sunshine Cost Regional District – Area F – Five Recreation Sites along the western shore
of Howe Sound and Gambier Island and one major park - Sir Thomas Lipton at the hed of Gambier Island's West Bay, also McNair Creek access point
• District of West Vancouver– Horseshoe Bay access point
• District of Squamish– Oceanfront access point
• Town of Gibsons– access point
• Bowen Island – Snug Harbour access point
• Trans Canada Trail Foundation– this Marine Trail is part of their national project. Read more about the Sea to Sky Trail on a BCMTNA blog article.
• Sea to Sky Marine Trail 2020 update.
• BC Marine Trail Network Association and Sea Kayak Association of BC - this Marine Trail is part of the BCMT/SKABC coast-wide project. BCMTNA & SKABC volunteers/directors have contributed significantly towards surveying, ground checking all parts of Howe Sound's coastlines, including the seven recreational sites. They are also involved with site deveoplment and stewardship (i.e. clearing of boat runs, levelling of tent of sites, signage, etc.) of the six sites. They have agreed to host Sea to Sky Trail information on their website.