The Sunshine Coast Trail

14 huts and 180 km of pristine trail from Sarah Point to Saltery Bay

Linking pockets of old-growth forest with untouched lakes, bubbling creeks, cascading waterfalls & expansive mountain views

The Sunshine Coast Trail is a massive grass-roots achievement that took decades to complete. It reached its culmination with the creation of 14 unique and handcrafted backcountry huts, which link each section of the trail together. This means you can hike for days and days in this beautiful wilderness without even bringing a tent!

The trail is 180km in length, running from from Saltery Bay on the south of the peninsula to Sarah Point in Desolation Sound in the north. The Sunshine Coast Trail has the distinction of being the longest (and completely free to use) hut-to-hut hiking trail in Canada!

Moreover, it is easily accessed at over than 2 dozen separate points along the way. This makes it perfect for day hikes, multi-day excursions, or even multi-week adventures at any time of year.

Those that want to hike the trail in full will usually start at Sarah Point in Desolation Sound. They head south all the way to the ferry terminal at Saltery Bay, along coastal paths, through ancient forests, and along the shore of serene lakes and mountain passes.

Visit the Sunshine Coast Trail website to read on for maps and additional information.

Another great resource for route planning is this Canadian Geographic article which highlights 7 not-to-miss spots along the trail.

Day Hikes

Sarah Point to Malaspina Road

  • 6.5 hours approx., one way, moderate difficulty

To start at Sarah Point you will need to arrange for the Lund Water Taxi to drop you off at the trailhead at the tip of Malaspina Peninsula in Desolation Sound. The trail heads east along the top of the Peninsula, rising slowly to Desolation Bluffs and incredible views over the Sound. It then drops to the beach at Feather Cove.

The trail then heads inland through the trees – including strands of old growth – to Wednesday Lake, which is great for a mid-day swim. You then go on south along the eastern shoreline of the peninsula and touch the shoreline of Malaspina Inlet at Cochrane Bay. Finally, you ascend again to Manzanita Bluffs – and the first hut of the trail. Experience more fantastic views, this time of Savary Island and the northern Strait of Georgia. From here you drop quickly and eventually cross Malaspina Road just south of Lund. With a bit of planning you can arrange to have transport available here for a  short return to Lund.

Appleton Canyon & Rieveley’s Pond

  • 1.5 hours each way approx., return, moderate difficulty

Another awesome day hike north of Powell River can be accessed up Wilde Road, about 5 minutes north of Sliammon.

You follow Appleton Creek beyond multiple picturesque waterfalls to an old campsite (and a perfect place for lunch) amongst a grove of old growth Douglas Firs. Here you can return to your vehicle via the same route, or continue an hour longer to Rieveley’s Pond. Here you will find a lovely lake with another hut, before turning around and returning to the parking lot.

Tin Hat Mountain Summit & Return

  • 2 hours each way approx., return / loop, challenging difficulty

A very steep and difficult, but an immensely rewarding hike to the summit of Tin Hat mountain on a clear day will give you 360 degree views of Powell Lake, the Coast Mountain range, the Strait of Georgia, and Vancouver Island far to the west. Tin Hat mountain is the central point of the SCT and also the site of one of 14 SCT huts – a fully winterized cabin used for overnight stays or to link different sections of the trail into a multi-day adventure.

To access the hike, drive 45 minutes or so up numerous active logging roads, which connects with Highway 101 south of Powell River at Dixon Road. The road is well-marked, but searching for further assistance at Tourism Powell River or purchasing Eagle Walz’s ‘Sunshine Coast Trail‘ book, as well as the use of a backcountry road map, is definitely recommended. Be very aware that these are active logging roads, and access should only be attempted by private vehicles before 8am or after 6pm, or on weekends. Also know that the roads can be used by commercial logging trucks at all times.

Inland Lake Loop

  • 3-4 hours, loop, easy difficulty

This popular loop trail is a flat, wheelchair-accessible 13-km section of the SCT that surrounds Inland Lake. It is easily accessed from town and popular with hikers, swimmers and bikers. There are campsites, small wood huts and picnic areas, making the trail a popular summer recreation area for families, trail runners, pet owners, through hikers and campers.

To access drive up Haslam Road in Cranberry and turn left at the fork at the top of the hill. After 5-6 kilometres the road forks again, left to Haywire Bay (and more hiking and camping) and right to Inland Lake.

Fairview Bay & Rainy Day Lake

  • 2 hours to Fairview Bay, 4 hours to Rainy Day Lake, one way, moderate difficulty

The far southern section of the Sunshine Coast trail, accessed at a point close to the Saltery Bay ferry terminal, is the starting point for a couple of fantastic day hikes.

Fairview Bay is the site of another SCT hut, located in a small cove east of Saltery Bay at the foot of Mount Troughbridge. From the trailhead you start to climb up a steep wooded slope, before dropping back down to the ocean on the far side. From here you have incredible views of the snowcapped Coast Mountains to the south and the east. Continue along the shoreline for a few more kilometres and you will come upon a picnic area and aforementioned hut at Fairview Bay.

From here, you can return to the parking lot the same way to came, or continue inland from here up to Rainy Day Lake – another couple of hours of fairly steep climbing – a serene lake set amongst moss-covered firs and cedars. There is another hut here on a bluff overlooking the lake. The perfect place to spend the night before coming back down in the morning, or continuing on to the summit of Mt Troubridge and beyond!

A waterfall in the Duck Lake trails of Powell River

Multi-Day Hikes

Sarah Point to the Shingle Mill (2-3 Days)

The entire northern portion of the Sunshine Coast Trail, from Desolation Sound to Powell River, is relatively flat compared to the rest of the hike. It can be completed fairly comfortably by most people in 2 or 3 days.

Take the water taxi from Lund out to Sarah point and begin your hike with expansive views of Desolation Sound and the Strait of Georgia. Hike through strands of old growth and discover hidden lakes in the rainforest. The trail takes you along the eastern side of Malaspina Peninsula, dropping occasionally to the shore of Malaspina Inlet, and then rises to the first SCT hut at Manzanita Bluff. From this scenic rocky bluff there are amazing views of the Strait of Georgia, Savary Island, and Vancouver Island.

You can choose to stay here on your first night or press on. The trail crosses Malaspina Road and continues beyond the head of Okeover Inlet. Eventually it links up with the Appleton Canyon and Rieveley’s Pond day hike. A second hut is located at Rieveley’s Pond, and depending on how early you get moving from Sarah Point in the morning, it can usually be reached in a day from the trailhead.

The final section touches the shorelines of Little and Big Sliammon Lakes, before climbing up Scout Mountain which overlooks the Wildwood neighbourhood of Powell River. You come down the other side at the Shinglemill Pub and Bistro on Powell Lake. Grab a drink and a hearty meal and relax after your hike!

Inland Lake to Lang Bay (4-5 Days)

This hike starts at Inland Lake (see above) and rises steeply through old growth fir and cedar groves to Confederation Lake, the new site of the newest cabin on the trail. You can elect to stay here, or descend quickly again to the shore of Powell Lake to the Fiddlehead Landing hut on it’s southern shore.

Day two climbs straight up and very steeply to the summit of Tin Hat mountain. Even if you arrive here with plenty of daylight, the scenery is reason enough to linger and spend the night in the hut. The winterized cabin is perched on a small plateau just below the peak.

From here the trail continues down from the summit along the shore of Lewis Lake, through spectacular old growth forest, crosses a logging road and rises again to more huts and Elk Lake, and further along at Walt Hill. From here you drop again to Dixon Road and the Highway near Lang Bay.

Saltery Bay to Lang Bay (3-4 Days)

From the southern trailhead of the SCT, heading north the trail climbs up a ridge and descends to Fairview Bay on the other side, which is a picturesque cove with incredible views of the Coast mountains to the south. While it’s perfectly reasonable to stay the night here in the SCT hut, continuing for 2 or 3 hours you will climb to a second hut at Rainy Day Lake.

From here you are also well positioned for an assault on Mt Troubridge the next day. Troubridge is the highest point of the Sunshine Coast Trail. From Rainy Day Lake you can trace your next-day’s ascent along the ridge line to the summit. Like Tin Hat, Troubridge has expansive views across the Strait of Georgia to the west, the Lower Sunshine Coast to the south, and into the Coast Mountains to the east and north. Far below the lakes and streams of the Powell River Canoe Route glistening in the sun.

There is another hut two kilometres beyond the summit – a beautiful fully winterized log cabin – and from here the next day it is a long (but thankfully entirely downhill) 18km stretch to Lois Lake and Dixon Road.

Elk Lake hut on the Sunshine Coast Trail