Sea-to-Sky Marine Trail

Orca Surfacing
Martin Ryer photo

About

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.

2015 opening
One of six toilets on Sea to Sky Marine Trail

Plan your trip

The Sea to Sky Marine Trail is not a ‘true’ linear trail connecting Horseshoe Bay to Squamish. Generally, paddlers access the trail from a few key locations where there is overnight parking and reasonable access to BC Parks and BCMT recreation sites. It’s best that you choose a gateway or launch point where you wish to start and plan your trip by accessing our map.

 

Resources

  1. It’s a good idea to view the overall area on our main map first to get an idea of where you wish to paddle. Choose your location and route.
  2. Our goal is to ensure safe travelling by canoe or kayak. We completed safety audits of all routes in the Gulf Islands and other stretches of the BC coast to determine where distances are not optimal or safe. For example, the outside of the Gulf Islands – Gabriola Island, Valdes Island and Galiano Island – have long stretches of coastline without ample campsites. That is, campsites optimally should be 8NM apart to a maximum of 12NM.
  3. If you are new to paddling you have to decide whether you are ready for your first trip. Consider taking paddling lessons and join a local club. Be trained. Be prepared. Be connected.
  4. As a member you can access our trip resources page or easily find resources online at Sea Kayak Association of BC.
Bain Creek camp
Todd carrying ladder

Hazards & Risks

The British Columbia coastline is an inherently dangerous location, and marine trail users assume the risk of navigating the BC coast. The BC Marine Trails Network has pinpointed some key locations where risks are increased due to pre-existing known conditions or possibility of risk. However, marine trail users are cautioned that risk can occur at any time at any location, and proper equipment, clothing, rescue gear, preparation and training are recommended to ensure optimal safety. Recurring safety considerations include:

Currents and rips: Conditions will be lessened if not eliminated at slack times, so check the Tides and Currents Tables to find the safest time to cross or transit difficult locations.

Ferry Lane Crossings: Several busy ferry corridors must be crossed over the course of the Gulf Islands Marine Trail, Salish Sea MT or Sea to Sky Marine Trail. Risk can be minimized by monitoring the appropriate Canadian Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Services broadcast channels and by calling in on that same channel to alert traffic to your presence. This is strongly recommended for groups crossing ferry lanes or in questionable conditions such as chop, darkness or fog that could make paddlecraft difficult to see.

Shipping lanes: Be sure to know where shipping lanes are located on your charts and monitor Canadian Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Services broadcast channels to track shipping movement. The following links can help you with traffic:

Pacific Pilotage Current Vessel Movements 

Launch Sites

There are a number of ways to access the Sea to Sky Marine Trail. To find launch sites please access our map and locate the Howe Sound area.

Campsites

There are a number of campsites in Howe Sound for paddlers.There are six new recreational sites that have been established in Howe Sound. Our BC Marine Trails map will provide similar or more information on each site. The six recreation sites are:

  • Tantalus Landing Recreation Site
  • Zorro Bay Recreation Site
  • Islet View Recreation Site
  • Thornbrough Recreatin Site
  • Bain Creek Recreation Site
  • Ramillies Channel Recreation Site

Additionally, there are three provincial campsites on the Sea to Sky Trail, currently. The three provincial sites are Halkett Bay Marine Provincial Park, Plumper Cove Marine Provincial Park and Porteau Cove Provincial Park. The parks can be viewed on our BC Marine Trails map.

Howe Sound map