Distance From Vancouver
to the Trailhead: About 20 kilometers via Lions Gate Bridge to
Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal. Then, take a 25 minute ferry ride to Bowen
Island. After that, drive for 5 minutes to the trailhead on Mount Gardner Road.
Great panoramic views of Vancouver Island and
mainland Metro Vancouver. Interesting forest.
intersecting and splitting paths with somewhat inadequate signage and
occasionally missing trail markings (as well as frequent wide-open
forest areas with no obvious path, and every now and then misleading
flagging tape) make it a difficult hike. It is easy to take a wrong turn
and walk for a long time before knowing it, so allow for at least 8
hours to get to the North Summit (best views) and back, unless you know
exactly how to get there. The path is mostly easy, but there are some
difficult forest stretches and several steep gravel road parts. Hiking
boots and poles are recommended.
Mount Gardner hike leads to fantastic panoramic
views, but get ready to get lost en route to the observation area. There
are so many trails on that mountain, and so many splits, that getting
lost is quite easy. It took us five hours and forty minutes to get to
North Summit, and only one hour fifteen minutes to get back. That's the
largest difference of all the hikes we have taken. We got lost three times,
and spent quite some time at various intersections trying to figure out
which path to take. There are good signs closer to the top, but, at the
bottom, the situation is different.
"103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia" by
Jack Bryceland has a map of Mount Gardner trails, and, most importantly,
explains that the best views are from the North Summit, and not from the
nearby South Summit. However, even with this map and a compass it was
very difficult to get to the top. The text and photos below would give a
general idea, but this is one of the hikes which requires a whole lot of
time just figuring out which way to go, and even more time retracing
your steps once you realized you took the wrong turn a while ago.
1. Mount Gardner Trail is located on
Bowen Island, and you can
our previous trip report for directions on how to get
Bowen Island from Vancouver. Here we are driving off from the ferry.
Bowen Island British Columbia Canada
2. Slightly less than a kilometer later, turn right
onto Mount Gardner Road. Drive for just over 2 km after that, and
turn left onto Hikers Trail Road, as shown in the photo below. This
left turn is between poles 490 and 491. Poles are numbered on Bowen
Island, and are located on the right side of Mount Gardner Road.
Mount Gardner Road Bowen Island Province of BC Canada
3. You can check out the map
shown in the photo below, but we did not find it
very useful. The map in
"103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia" is
better, though we badly needed more details while getting lost time and
4. Drive for another 300 meters on Hikers Road and
park on the left side. There is enough space for 5-6 vehicles there.
Mount Gardner Trail Parking Area - Bowen Island Hiking
5. Walk straight and go past the gate.
Hiking on Bowen Island - Mount Gardner Trail
6. Our confusion began shortly. The first trail split
came very soon. To the left is Skid Trail, recommended in "103
Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia." To the right is a sign
directing you to Hikers Road and North Mount Gardner Trail. So, we took
Skid Trail, and it was marked at first, but then we could not see any
more markers and did not see the trail continuation. Bizarre thing is that,
on our way back, we took Skid Trail and got back without a problem.
Hike Bowen Island
7. Alright, attempt #2. Took Hikers Road/North Mount
Gardner Trail, and came to this intersection. Where to go next? No
signs, no flagging tape...So, took the trail to the right, walked down a steep
road for a while, and ended up on a different stretch of Mount Gardner
Road! Had to go back up a steep grade.
Bowen Island Hike - Mount Gardner Trail
8. Then, there was another split, either before or
after (hard to remember now) looking very much like the split above.
And, again, nothing to indicate which way to go. We took the right path
again, and again it was wrong. So, if taking Hikers Road / North Mount
Gardner Trail from the bottom of Mount Gardner, make the first two left
turns. And then, when you get to this intersection, take the left turn
Mount Gardner Trail - Hiking on Bowen Island BC Canada
9. Soon, you would see what appears to be
a hunters' perch.
10. Then, there is another split, and this time there
is a good sign (seen attached to a tree in the middle of the photo)
there, so take the path to the right.
Mount Gardner Hike Bowen Island BC Canada
11. The road gets steeper. Sweat time. Ignore the sign
to Headloggers Trail, which would appear shortly.
12. In about 25 minutes after taking the right path
seen in photo #10, there is yet another split, where you can either
go straight or turn left. The left path is signed "Mt. Gardner." You can
see the white sign above the flagging tape. The sign does not specify if
it is North or South summit. But we took that left path anyway.
Bowen Island Hike - Mount Gardner Trail British Columbia Canada
13. Eventually, we arrived to a badly
overgrown summit, though one decent view of Vancouver Island and a
passing BC Ferry (seen in the photo below) was still there. Then, the
path started descending. However, thanks to "103 Hikes in Southwestern
British Columbia," we knew that the best views were at the North summit,
so we figured this was the South summit and went back to the
intersection in the photo above and went straight from there.
Vancouver Island seen from Mount Gardner Bowen Island British Columbia
14. Thirty minutes of walking through a
forest led to an open area with wonderful views of Keats Island (on the
foreground) and Sunshine Coast behind it.
Keats Island and Sunshine Coast View from Mount Gardner Bowen Island BC
Here is our video from this viewpoint.
A ferry can
be seen docked at the Langdale Terminal: