Trails Development

Our Trails Development work enables safe, sustainable and respectful navigation of the coast. It encompasses everything from site assessments, safety mandates to social license over coastal access points. As part of our trail development, we install things like tent platforms, food caches and composting toilets. All of this is necessary to keep sites sustainable and is made possible through donations, membership fees and the help of our dedicated volunteers.

A marine trail is a series of safe havens, rest areas, overnight campsites and launch or access points that allow someone to transit the coast.

There are three parts to this: Safety, Access, and Continuity.

Safety first, always. We have created a safety standard based on what we think a paddler with moderate skills and endurance can achieve in good weather conditions in a day. This equates to roughly 15 km or 8 nautical miles between campsites with safety stops (any type of site) positioned at 5 nautical miles apart. This is our safety criteria and how we look for sites. A safe trail segment is established once this criteria is satisfied.

Access. Some sites are already on public land, while others are on private land or within traditional First Nations territories. We respectfully engage with respective Nations to gain social license over an access point or a site. If permission is not granted, we refrain from putting a site onto our map.

Continuity. A trail needs multiple safe trail segments to traverse the coastline. As we connect segments (or routes) we establish continuous marine trails.

The great majority of overnight camping sites are small, undeveloped ‘wilderness’ sites that have no toilet facilities and are user-maintained.

This is often done by studying a map, looking for locations that could meet our safety distance requirements. The best way though, is when members of our community suggest them, based on their own coastal journeys. We offer training courses on how to review existing sites, and identify potential new ones.

We manage or co-manage a number of recreation sites. On managed sites, volunteers help install things like tent pads and composting toilets, which are funded by your donations. On natural or informal sites, sites are largely user-maintained. We developed a Marine Code of Conduct to help keep sites sustainable.

Maintained recreation sites are crucial when it comes to the longevity of coastal environments. Without structures like tent platforms, trails or toilets, the use of sites can lead to vegetation degradation and ecological damage, largely caused by trampling. We create marine trails to enable recreation along the BC Coast with minimal impact on the environment.

We develop marine trails along the BC Coast through different funding streams and volunteer hours. You can help by supporting BC Marine Trails general campaign financially or help us on the ground through volunteer work. Contact us here to learn more about becoming a BCMT volunteer.

Howe Sound Tent Platform overlooking the water

BC's Marine Trails

Cape Scott Marine Trail
Gulf Islands Marine Trail
Howe Sound Tent Platform overlooking the water
Sea to Sky Marine Trail
Salish Sea Marine Trail

Did you know that we don’t just build marine trails? We also help protect and preserve them!