Very overdue (publishing some old drafts we forgot about) – here is our trip report from the Sunshine Coast Trail.
So, unfortunately, we didn’t end up finishing the trail as Kyle got injured on Day 5 and we had to hike out. We did get over halfway through the trail though.
The trail was very pretty and there were some amazing views on it. The trail ended up being significantly more technical & difficult than we had anticipated – the trail itself is very well-marked and easy to follow, with relatively moderate elevation change over the trail.
Mileage: 16.0 km (0.0 – 16.0)
We started out in Lund after staying the night at the Lund Historical Hotel. We had booked the water taxi to take us to the trailhead. The water taxi was $120 and took around 20 minutes from Lund to the trailhead.
The trailhead that the water taxi drops you off on a rock ledge and then there’s a ~5′ scramble to the actual trail.
The trail follows along the coast/shoreline for the majority of this section and pops out onto various beaches and bluffs. The trail itself is covered in moss & leaves. We also found that there were a lot of trees down on the trail – this might be since it was early in the season before hey normally do trail maintenance, but definitely something to keep in mind if you are planning on doing the trail early in the year. If there had not been downed trees, the trail would have been quite straightforward and on the easy side of things – the downed trees required a lot of climbing over or going off trail to go around them which made it more challenging.
The elevation gain is very reasonable, the vast majority of it wasn’t steep enough to justify switchbacks and the trail went straight up the hills.
We ended our first day at the first shelter of the trail – the Manzanita Hut.
It started raining & hailing quite heavily only a few minutes after we reached the hut. We were considering continuing on and setting up camp further along the trail. But the rain/hail and the fact that we didn’t want to push too hard on our first day made it easy for us to decide to stay at the hut.
The hut was quite nice – there was a cooking area on the main floor and then a sleeping loft upstairs. The sleeping loft had windows at either end that could be opened for ventilation. There was also an outhouse a short distance away, picnic tables and a fire ring. One thing to note about this shelter is there are definitely mice/rodents present. There were mouse droppings in the sleeping loft and both myself and Kyle woke up the next morning with tight throats.
Mileage: 27.1 km (to Shangri-La dock at 43.1 km)
We started shortly after 8am. The trail is mostly through forested sections, easy to follow and a surprising number of benches along the way. There are lots of options for camping along the way if you would like a shorter day.
Mileage: (to Inland Lake Huts)
This was a hard day. It started out well with the sun shining and a relatively easy hike into Powell River. We got into town a bit before noon, so we stopped for lunch at a restaurant that was right along the trail.
After lunch though was a different story. The directions through town to the next trailhead were not at all clear, so we wasted a bit of time wandering around. Once we found where we were supposed to go, it involved climbing a gravel logging road in the hot sun, then once near the top, going right back down a very overgrown trail. It was not pleasant at all.
We were hoping to make it to Confederation Lake today, but the gravel road walk and the condition of the trail meant that we had to stop at the Inland Lakes instead.
Inland Lakes is actually pretty neat – the trail around the lake is all leveled gravel so that wheelchair users can navigate it and the two shelters were initially intended for groups with disabilities to be able to use. However, they weren’t well used and are now open to the general public as well. We camped in our tent rather than staying in the shelters.
Mileage: (to Tin Hat Mountain)
This was one of the most challenging days of hiking I’ve experienced. There were lots of downed trees along the trail and the trail up to Tin Hat Mountain is incredibly steep. It was gorgeous up there though and well worth the effort.
We also passed by the Confederation Lake hut along the way – I’d highly recommend staying here rather than Inland Lake as it is much prettier and a nicer shelter.
This was the day Kyle got injured. There was a lot of downed trees along the trail and he tweaked his knee while climbing over one. We kept going for a while and tried to slow our pace, but it quickly became apparent we wouldn’t be able to continue. So we backtracked to an access road we had passed and started walking down it towards the highway. Unfortunately, we got to the road a bit late and missed any loggers that would be leaving for the day. We found a flattish spot along the side of the road and set up our tent. Luckily for us, a couple on an ATV came down the road about 15 minutes after we had everything set up.
They were super awesome and returned with their truck and gave us a ride all the way into Powell River. We grabbed a hotel room for the night and caught the bus back to Vancouver the following morning.
One week is definitely an achievable timeline if you are physically fit and enjoy hiking all-day. If you are the type that enjoys spending more time in camp, I would recommend extending the trip and doing a resupply in Powell River.
Depending on if you have severe allergies or not – you might not want to stay in the huts. Several of the huts had obvious rodent issues (lots of droppings) and both Kyle and I noticed we were stuffy/had tight throats in the morning after staying in one of the huts.
Check the trail reports and Facebook page before leaving – there was a detour around Tin Hat Mountain that we did not learn about until we reached it. We went around it after speaking to some loggers who said they were not blasting in the area anymore.
Bring a set of maps with logging roads marked on it so you can easily find bailout points or detours.
Consider going later on in the season to avoid significant amounts of downed trees across the trail.