trip report – Sunshine Coast Trail

by site editor Rick McCharles 


Eleven hikers from flat, dry central Canada – Saskatchewan – met up at Nancy’s bakery in remote Lund, B.C.


Our plan was to hike from Sarah Point to Powell River in 5 days, 4 nights. The first section of the 180km Sunshine Coast Trail.

We ended up exiting after 2 nights walking out from Manzanita hut right back … to the bakery. 🙂

start of the Sunshine Coast Trail

We’d booked a water taxi from Lund to the trailhead at Sarah Point.

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Our skipper was excellent. The weather perfect. Yet the scramble up steep, slippery rock to the trailhead was challenging. I’d hate to do it in rough seas.


We were off. 🙂


The trail is well flagged but requires frequent scrambles over, under or around fallen trees. Our packs felt very heavy at this point.

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Early July 2015 the Pacific N.W. was atypically hot and humid. Forest fire hazy clouded the sky.

Mosquitoes and wasps were a real pest. Four of our group were stung over 3 days.

It quickly became evident our large group, starting late in the day, would never make it to our intended destination – camping at Wednesday lake.

Instead we dropped down to a disused campsite at Cochrane Bay. It turned out to be a lovely spot. The pit toilet (which we found the next morning) still in working order.

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It was dark when we went to hang the food.

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Rodents quickly pounced on my  dinner pot (salmon) once I set it on the ground.

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The sea a glassy lake next morning.

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We suffered some foot and knee pain. And morning stiffness, of course.

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A steep, sweaty climb up from the sea  brought us to Wednesday lake where we refilled all our water bottles. You need at least 3 litres / person on this dry section of the Trail.

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We needed this refreshing break as the climb up to the Manzanita bluff was particularly gruelling.

Joan’s last hike?


It was with relief that we arrived at Manzanita hut early in the day.


It is a treat to have tables and fire pit after the wilderness camp of the previous night.


We split up some sleeping in their tents, some in their tents in the loft.


Running low on water, some of the keeners walked about 1.5km down hill to find a stagnant spring. Carried it back up. You need to treat all water on the SCT.


By morning it was decided. We were going to quit the SCT and exit to Lund. Our spiritual leader Bill Wallace and his doppelgänger consulted the guidebook, brochure map and some local day hikers to calculate the best route.


The manly men checked to see if they were strong enough for the escape … by trying to do a chin-up with full pack.



Bill leading the quitters to safety.



Civilization. 🙂



We checked in at the Willingdon Beach campground in Powell River. It’s a good spot, walking distance from the ferry.

The sunset is gorgeous from here. Sandy descended the steep, slippery cliff to shore faster than anyone else. 🙂

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Willingdon Beach Trail was a fascinating history lesson. Much enjoyed.

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With the extra time we decided to kayak Desolation Sound. It turned out to be the best day of the week!

Back to Saskatoon. Back to reality. 🙂


Lessons learned on the Sunshine Coast Trail:

  • it’s mostly inland
  • great vistas are infrequent. Many sections are tree-locked.
  • it’s rarely flat
  • much more challenging than expected

Two ladies who had done half the Pacific Crest Trail found the long day from Sarah Point to Manzanita hut a serious day. They went straight to bed after dinner and were gone by 6am next morning. Do not underestimate this trail. 

I’m hoping to get back in September / October when the bugs are less a problem. Cold doesn’t worry me.


Some of our high resolution photos on flickr. Most of those were taken by Warren Long.

besthike Sunshine Coast Trail information page


6 Replies to “trip report – Sunshine Coast Trail”

  1. Hey Rick,
    A group of us are planning on doing this over the September long weekend. Same initial distance and direction but in 4 days, 3 nights. We were wondering what was the ultimate factor in leaving the trail on the second day?

    1. It was tougher than we expected. But the main reasons were HEAT, mosquitoes and the fact that 4/11 people were stung by wasps. A 5th was stung next day off the trail.

      Early September should be much better. But be prepared for wasps. Just in case.

    2. Hey Adam,

      How did you find the trail?

      Thanks Rick for the info. Planning the same route for mid July this year. Good to know the trail is more challenging than made out to be.

      – Julie

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