Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park

Located near Egmont on the Sunshine Coast, this is an unusual Provincial Park for a number of reasons.  When you think “park” one often thinks of nice spots to have a picnic or enjoy a view.  The view at the end of the trail is the ultimate purpose of the park.

Visitor Centres and your accommodations will have a tide chart for Skookumchuck Narrows.  Plan to arrive shortly before the tide ebbs or floods or you won’t receive the full reward for taking the trail.

The Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park’s parking lot is off Egmont Road, about 6 km (4 mi.) from the Sunshine Coast Highway (Hwy 101).

The trail itself starts in the parking lot and is about 4 km (2.5 mi.) each way.  Many guide books and sites give the time as 45 minutes to an hour each way.  I find the 45 minute time optimistic.  To make it in 45 minutes, you’d have to be fairly oblivious to the wonderful scenery, and definitely not have young children with you.  Fit adults can do it in an hour.  If you have mobility issues, this trail is tricky due to roots, rocks, and some ups and downs.  If you have kids that need a stroller, make sure to have a way to backpack them in.  All the local guide books rate the trail as easy, but this easy setting is for able bodied persons without young children.

If you have to “go” before you go, make sure to use the nice bathrooms at the Egmont Heritage Centre across the road.  BC Parks now call outhouses “pit toilets” which changes nothing about the normal olfactory experience one associates with outdoor potties.

The trail starts with stern warnings not to mess with the locals’ private property.  For those of us with active imaginations, there’s a kind of I-wonder-what-scary-stuff-is-going-on-behind-the-no-trespassing-signs feeling.  However, there is a bakery (The Green Rosette) hidden in the woods, which sadly was not open when we were trekking to the Narrows.  (See image in the photo gallery.)

There is wildlife on the trail and my daughter was quite convinced there needed to be a sign that said “Warning Slug Crossing” as the Banana Slugs of both green and black colours were prevalent.  (This kind of thing is another reason why the 1 hour estimate when walking with children is out the window.  You had to talk to each slug.)  Other wildlife we saw when walking were the cutest squirrels ever, a Kingfisher and some Great Blue Heron.

Brown Lake is a placid body of water with a view that feels so Canadian that you expect to see a moose rising out of the water.  Of course the Sunshine Coast doesn’t have any moose, so don’t hold your breath.

By the time you get to the Skookumchuck Narrows, you will be wondering if it was all worth it.  We had the challenge that the high tide time was near sunset, so our trip back under the forest canopy would be rather dim with the prospect of tripping over roots and rocks.

It was worth it; as soon as I rounded the corner and saw the surging water, I said:  “whoa!”

At the time we arrived there were some kayakers wrapping up.  According to the tourist guide the water speed is 30 km/h and, the BC Parks says: “On a 3 metre tide, 200 billion gallons of water flow through the narrows connecting Sechelt and Jervis Inlet.”

According to the signage, this odd tidal situation leaves unusual critters to watch in the tidal pools at low tide. Only water creatures capable of handling massive water changes each day can live there.  People SCUBA dive in the area.  I’ve done amateur diving and would seriously want to prepare before hitting that bit of water.  But, I have to admit it would be pretty cool.

Sadly we did not have a chance to visit at low tide and, with sunset imminent, we had to head back as quickly as possible.

I think, however, the next time I go I’ll wait until the kids are older so they can carry me!

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