NTS Map: 92G6. Want to cleanse your mind of the city rush and busy-ness?Take the ferry to Bowen Island and enjoy the hike to Mount Gardner - an 11 km trek with spectacular summit views on a clear day. The 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay to Snug Cove adds to the joy and the feeling of - getting away. The hike to Mount Gardner's north summit is a pleasant hike, mainly under the coverage of trees along a well-kept and well-marked trail. Pleasant also due to the fact that you'll hike mostly on the soft ?bed? of pine needles, with only a few rugged or rooty parts. We did the hike on a weekday, which left us almost all by ourselves on the trail. Once you get to Mount Gardner's north summit, your 719m high scramble will be rewarded by the views: Howe Sound and Gambier Island to the north, the Coast Mountains of the mainland to your north/northeast. Looking northwest, you can see the village of Gibsons; beyond is the Sechelt Peninsula, and southeast there's Vancouver and English Bay. Since we did the hike in early May, we got to see some of the mountains still snow-covered ? which adds to the beautiful panorama. And according to our hiking guide, it's an all-year hike - except after a serious snowstorm.
There is GPS data attached to this trail (see "download GPS"), which if loaded into your GPS can help you find route points.
Take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island ($7.25 for a round trip per person in 2003 including bike). When we planned our trip to Mount Gardner, we decided to take our bikes along to Bowen Island so that we cycled the first 3 km to the actual trailhead (and back to the ferry terminal once we had descended). You can also walk to the trailhead through Crippen Regional park (add 3 km and 30 ? 45 minutes one-way to the above given distance and hiking time). Thus, the directions to the trailhead given here are along Mount Gardner Road. From Snug Cove, go straight along the main road up a hill, and turn right at the school onto Mount Gardner road. When you get to Killarney Lake, look for the numbers on the poles, and at pole 490 turn left. We locked our bikes to pole 491 on the other side of the paved road. Head left onto a service road (Bowen Pit road). Pass the gate and shortly after that, turn left towards the creek onto the Skid trail (Ignore the sign reading ?Hikers trail? since this is the less pleasant way on the old gravel logging road). Now, the trail is well marked with blazes and signs ?Mount Gardner ? North summit?. Don't get confused by the occasional mention of the ?South Route? ? you're still OK. Follow these signs to the 719m north summit. We descended the same route we came up; however if you look for more variety there are options for different descents.
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Posted By: Mimble
- Tue May 21 17:12:13 EDT 2013
UpsideReally, really great views from the summit. Beautiful scenery.
DownsideThere are still a lot of downed trees, and there are some areas that have very poor signage and no trail markers (I assume those markers are on the fallen trees somewhere, but they sure aren't visible).
CommentI did this hike on May 19, 2013 with some friends who had done this hike before. I would not recommend going this one alone if you've never done it before.
This is a great, but somewhat difficult hike. Take your time on the steep slopes, take a extra water, and be prepared to get dirty crawling over and under the fallen trees.
This was my first time on Bowen Island and, despite the difficulties, I would do this again. Those views from the summit are really worth the trouble.
Posted By: cwu
- Mon Mar 11 15:32:11 EDT 2013
UpsideVery steep uphills. Pretty intense workout for your legs and glutes. The view up on the North Peak is amazing. For a hike that's not that far from the city, this is an absolute gem. Plus, this trail is never too busy.
DownsidePoorly marked trail. Very easy to get lost if you're not paying CLOSE attention.
CommentI've done this hike a few times already in the past two summers. Both times, the exerience was really great. However, I hiked this yesterday (March 10, 2013) and I must say, I was completely taken aback by the trail conditions! I wish I had found some sort of warning online or even saw a warning post on the trailhead bulletin board. The beginning part (about first 15 mins) was fine but as I went up to higher elevations, I saw freshly toppled trees everywhere! Leaves and branches scattered everywhere. It looked like a hurricane had gone through there. I don't recommend anybody try this hike for now because of the debris covering most of the trail and fallen trees blocking off access to certain parts of the trail. I went with a few of my friends (most of us had done this hike before at least 2 times). We had to bushwack our way through and got lost quite a few times. A few trees that originally had the trail markers had fallen as well, so it was hard for us to find the markers! When we got close to the summit, there was still hardened snow...so if you don't have hiking poles or crampons, you might find it difficult to go up and down hill. It'll take the park officials a while to clear up this place.
Posted By: orlandkurtenbach
- Mon Jun 25 22:45:44 EDT 2012
CommentA real workout with very rewarding views! Did this in July.. Starting at the trailhead (at the intersection of Mt Gardner and Hikers Trail), it took me and my girlfriend two hours up and an hour and fifteen minutes down. We didn't do the loop though; we just went down the same way we came up. That might have skewed our time, but I still thought it was considerably less than the five hours typically predicted online. (Me and my girlfriend are in our mid-twenties, but not overly fit.. maybe slightly above-average.)
Regarding the confusing marking that several people below have spoken of, see the trail description on Vancouver Trails here: http://www.vancouvertrails.com/trails/mount-gardner/ for a more detailed guide.
At any rate, if you're on Bowen Island and have time to do a day hike, it's well worth it.. Go get er done!
Posted By: theoneandonlychevy
- Tue Jun 12 13:06:06 EDT 2012
UpsideGorgeous panoramic views that are hard to beat
DownsideMarking is terrible and very easy to get lost.
CommentRode our bikes to the trailhead which was super fun on the way home and a nice break on the legs after hiking down the mountain. We just stored our bikes in the forest at the trailhead. Well worth it and I highly recommend this!
Posted By: toothpastechica
- Wed May 11 16:48:53 EDT 2011
Upsideamazing views, saw lots of wildlife.
Downsidesigns can be confusing, and the walk up the gravel road in the beginning seems to go on forever...(dont worry it doesnt)
Commentwe saw ravens and had a gorgeous hot sunny day, a good day trip, but theres not much to do once coming down, and the only places to eat were very busy and it probably would have been faster to take the ferry back to vancouver to eat then to try and eat somewhere there around dinnertime.
Posted By: air.bear
- Thu Aug 05 20:07:55 EDT 2010
UpsideBeautiful!!! Absolutely gorgeous. Amazing views.
DownsidePoor signage. They explained to us at the B&B that there are two groups of people who have done the signage and they have two different trails as a result. When we started hiking, we saw a few places where there was a sign with the same instructions on it pointing in totally opposite directions. It could be a bit confusing. But if you are doing the hike, pick one type of signage and follow it only.
Posted By: salmonsally
- Sat Jul 10 20:14:30 EDT 2010
UpsideAre the times and distances given for roundtrip?
Posted By: Lazybones
- Mon Apr 19 00:42:36 EDT 2010
UpsideIncredible views from top of north summit on both helicopter pads; nice variety of forest terrain, giant cedars and doug firs, nice rolling topography.
DownsideVery strenuous and VERY LONG hike. Will easily take you 6 hours! Exhausting coming down.
CommentI'm in really good shape and can bang up Grouse Grind in an hour or less. This hike is NOT for out of shape folks, or those with bad back, bad knee, etc. This hike has some stretches that are extremely STEEP for extended periods. ALSO: easy to get lost...make sure to bring a good map or guide book. The trails are often not well worn...you can easily wander off the trail! I did, and I consider myself pretty good at trail navigation. I mean...there was hardly any defined trail in areas...you were just walking on the forest floor with barely the faintest signs that you were walking where others had before you. You need a whole day if coming from Vancouver....we used bikes to get to the trailhead. Without biking to trail head, add another 2 hours easily. This hike is, without question NOT moderate: it is STRENUOUS. I highly recommend it...just want folks to realize it ain't no casual romp in da woods. Be prepared for a long, strenuous hike.
Posted By: yoursdigitally
- Mon Jun 08 03:26:29 EDT 2009
UpsideGreat view at top is VERY rewarding!
DownsideThere is no information brochure at the kiosk by Pole 491 (near the junction of Hikers Trail and Mount Gardner Roads)
CommentDone this on a clear Sunday, May 31, 2009. Took us approximately an hour to walk from the ferry at Snug Cove to the trail head on Hikers Trail Road thru Crippen Regional Park. Followed thru Skid Trail for Junction Post#1, #2, and #3. Chose to hike uphill at Junction Post#3 for the South Summit (elevation 758m). There is no view at South Summit. Trees are all around. Should keep continuing for the North Summit, but we don't have a map and decided to turn around. Stopped for a break at a viewpoint on the east slope of Mount Gardner (elevation about 680m) in between Junction Post#3 and South Summit. You can expect to see West Vancouver's Lighthouse Park headland, Burrard Inlet, Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, Downtown Vancouver, Burnaby Mountain, Richmond's Lulu and Sea Islands, Iona and North Arm Jetties, and on a clear day as far as Mount Baker in Washington State. Exposed roots and rocks are common on the trails. Most of the steeper trails are bark mulch and loose dirt covered that made the downhill journey a bit challenging. I finished 3-litre of water. The use of hiking poles are very much recommended.
Posted By: Bierophine
- Tue Mar 03 22:02:24 EST 2009
UpsideVery nice trail with awesome view on the top. Easy access with the ferry.
DownsideDifficult when there is a snow and ice.
CommentExcellent trip. Not a lot people (in winter).
Posted By: vpigeon
- Wed Oct 29 13:52:38 EDT 2008
UpsideA very pleasant hike, including a very enjoyable walk through Crippen Regional Park from the ferry terminal to the trailhead.
DownsideLimited viewing on the way up (a couple view points, but nothing extraordinary). The forest however is not extremely dense, so some lighting filters through.
CommentWhile having lunch on the helicopter pad, a copter did in fact fly in. Pilot was very polite in asking us to move away far enough to be beyond the rotors, so we moved away and let it land (see photos). If you don't do anything, don't go anywhere, nothing unusual will happen ;-)
Total distance from ferry terminal, up and around the mountain and back to the terminal was 20 kms, with 900 m. total ascent.
If you're early for the ferry (or just missed it as we did), try one of the nearby pubs or coffee shops.
Note that sale of ferry tix at Horseshoe Bay ENDS 10 mins before sailing, so don't be late, or you'll have to wait 1 hour for the next sailing.
Posted By: granolapher
- Thu Oct 23 12:50:31 EDT 2008
UpsideGood views from the South summit Heli-pad, well developed trails, and light traffic.
DownsideRoute finding may be an issue for some, as most of the labeling on the route placards has worn off. Sections of the trail are quite steep.
CommentI hiked the south summit via skid trail, and descended on the north summit trail via the connector to the skid trail route. I would recommend people descend along the north summit route, as the final portion of the south summit trail is very steep.
Posted By: hiker2
- Sun Jun 01 23:52:39 EDT 2008
UpsideTrails are usually in good condition, and this year (2008) the North Shore Hikers has improved some of the trails and their marking. Good views from the top. Low elevation means trails can be hiked on without snow for much of the year. Can access directly from Snug Cove ferry by walking through Crippen Park. Very few hikers on weekdays: sometimes I have been the only hiker there.
DownsideAs someone else said, unleashed dogs in Crippen Park are sometimes a problem. Current 257 express bus service from Vancouver does not connect well to Horseshoe Bay-Snug Cove ferry. The many hiking trails can be confusing. Helicopters sometimes land on the pads especially on weekdays, often at mid-day when I have been in the area having lunch: this area has been getting more and more covered in telecommunications equipment. The forest of trees has been replaced by a forest of steel towers.
CommentA better map than the ones listed so far can be found at: http://www.car-free.ca/bc-car-free/hiking/bowen-island-dorman-point-trail.html Click on "Click to View Map" and increase the size as you wish. This map shows all the main hiking trails on Bowen Island.
Posted By: fandabidozi
- Sun Feb 27 21:24:56 EST 2005
UpsideDid the trail at the end of February. We caught the 8.05 ferry from horsehoe bay which got us to Snug Cove at 8.30. Use start off by taking a short walk through Crippen Park. We didn't have a map but were able to pick one up outside the info centre which is at the entrance to the park and it shows you how to get to the trailhead. The wolk to the trail heap of Mount Gardner takes 45min. When you get to the gate of the trail look out for a trail leading out to the left. We took what turned out to be "skid trail" all the way up through the southern peak and finishing off at the nothern peak. We arrived at the Northern Peak at 11.30am and after taking pics and eating luch we left at 12pm. We opted to take the loggers trail down which is basically a dirt track so you can virtually run down. We made it to the ferry terminal at Snug Cove at 2pm which left us an hour to wait for the next ferry. Therefore time this trek right by catching the 9.05 ferry out and the 3.05pm ferry back to Vancouver.
DownsideThe dogs at Killarny Lake, there were so many people walking unleashed dogs!
CommentA great day out away from the hussle. Go early and you'll be on your own for the most part. The views from the top are great.
Posted By: Ilnyckyj
- Sat Apr 10 00:36:21 EDT 2004
CommentThis was a beautiful hike for an April's day. Meghan and I walked right from Snug Cove to the peak of Mount Gardner and back again (details <a href="http://sindark.blogspot.com/2004_04_01_sindark_archive.html#108156963543102653">here, with some freebie GPS coords</a>). We also found the <a href="http://ads.groundspeak.com/banman2.asp?lat=49.38&lon=-123.39&ZoneID=3&Task=Get&X=1081571675457">geocache</a> on the mountaintop.
The trail is very well marked, and you might have more fun without an extensive set of GPS waypoints: there is little danger of getting lost and pretty poor satellite coverage in the trees anyway.
The weather was great and the view at the end, as well as along the ridge documented on the first linked page, made every metre of vertical ascent entirely worthwhile.
Posted By: AlsidPrime
- Mon Feb 09 22:39:12 EST 2004
UpsideBowen island, where we would i be without it? Spectacular i must say, I've been up there a couple of times, And it is ranked among my top 3 i'd say.
DownsideMake sure your paying attention to which path your taking, and that your still on the path, if you get into a heated discussion and forget to pay attention then you might wonder why your no where near a peice of marking tape....
CommentExcelent trip, well worth it... (p.s. I have a GeoCache on the peak right across from the Heli-Pad. also one in the lower elevations around Crippen park. Check it out, Www.Geocaching.com)
Posted By: trishkaka
- Sun Aug 10 00:02:22 EDT 2003
UpsideBeautiful forest, not too far, generally quiet.
DownsideHmm... maybe the ferry and parking in Horseshoe Bay is a downside? Expect to pay $12 to park and $6 for the ferry.
CommentThis is a great hike. The ferry ride across adds to the adventure, despite being an extra cost. The trail itself is in fairly good condition and the view up top is great. Most people haven't seen a view from this far west. Do this hike, it's well worth them time (and stop for ice cream on the way back!)
Posted By: kimg
- Fri May 23 13:32:24 EDT 2003
CommentWe also hiked the trail in Mid May. The instructions submitted by Jeanetter were perfect. We followed Skid Trail to the top then continued on to the North Summit where we stopped for lunch. Its a great spot on a sunny day with views Keats & Langdale. We opted not to go back the way we came and kept going to the Hikers Trail for the descent on the gravel road. It was a good suggestion to bike the 3k to the trailhead. My feet were happy to not have to walk the extra 3k to Snug Cove as it was my first hike of the year. Another fun thing to do is go to Doc's Pub in town after for a cold refreshment and snack well deserved afterward.
Posted By: trailpeak
- Wed May 21 19:18:46 EDT 2003
CommentOne of Trailpeak's members, who hiked to Mount Gardner in mid-May, emailed us about his experiences: "The weather was perfect. The hike is almost totally in the shade of trees. We stayed on the "skid trail" on the way up which is a walk in the forest. On the return, we opted to try the "hand-loggers' trail" and the "hikers' trail". The latter is a service road for the telecommunications equipment at the top.
The most scenic panorama was on the descent on the "hand-loggers' trail" that leads to the "hikers' trail". We spent considerable time there and people commented that we should have had lunch there instead of at the top.
From the top looking south east, we were able to see Vancouver and the Lions Gate Bridge. To the north, we could see the Sunshine Coast and other islands.
The lookout on the "hand-loggers' trail is in the shade and there was a cool breeze coming up from the water. There were a number of tug boats, sail boats and a ferry going to Langdale to watch.
On the way to the base of the hike, we walked through Crippen Regional Park and this took us to Killarney Lake. On the return, we walked quickly along the edge of the road to ensure we made our targeted ferry sailing. By not having a car(s), we made the next ferry sailing. Otherwise, there would have been a one sailing wait due to the volume of vehicles returning to the mainland
I kept a time log for future reference: 8:00 am Meeting at White Spot in North Van 8:13 am Departed for Horseshoe Bay, parked beside golf course 9:05 am Sailing departure from Horseshoe Bay for Snug Cove 9:25 am Assembled at monument for war veterans 9:40 am Set out to Crippen Regional Park 10:27 am Arrived at base of Mount Gardner 12:25 pm Reached summit, lunch on the heli pad looking SE 2:00 pm Started descent 4:10 pm Arrived at Mt Gardner Road 4:55 pm Arrived at Snug Cove ferry terminal 5:05 pm Ferry sailing 5:25 pm Arrival in Horseshoe Bay 6:00 pm Assembled at vehicles, departed for Vancouver “