The long-distance Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT) connects Desolation Sound to Saltery Bay along British Columbia's Sunshine Coast. This hut-to-hut run is excellent for backpacking. Featuring 14 shared-use sleeping huts, the SCT is free for all to use. Highlights include old growth coastal forest, scenic lakes, waterfalls, Salish Sea views, and, of course, the rustic sleeping huts.
Note: The Sunshine Coast Trail is well-marked with orange square markers. However, in addition to the Trail Run Project mobile app
, runners should always carry a topographic map and guidebook while on-trail. The following highlights are for trip planning reference only and do not represent the entire trail.
Begin running along the shores of Sarah Bay at the mouth of Desolation Sound. This first section of trail travels through the protected old growth of Malaspina Park. Highlights of the day include saltwater views from Desolation Bluffs, Feather Cove, and The Knob. Refill your water supply at Wednesday Lake, as it's the last dependable source for the next stretch. From the lake, begin your climb into Gwendoline Hills before reaching your first hut. Manzanita Hut offers excellent Salish Sea views, a 10-person sleeping loft, and plenty of its namesake manzanita trees to keep you company.
Descend 1,000 ft/300 m from Manzanita Bluffs and Gwendoline Hills to the forest below. You'll trade in sea views for a rolling woodland run on this stretch. In late spring and early summer, the forest blooms with rhododendrons. The forest around you'll change as the trail rambles along through old growth, and younger stretches of forest only 20 years old. At Rieveley's Pond, another hut and an orchestra of frogs await to lull you to sleep.
Departing Reiveley's Pond, the trail turns further inland. Appelton Creek and the canyon it carves out offer breathtaking falls, the crown jewel of which is Gorge Falls. After continuing through second growth Douglas fir, you'll come to the first of three lakes, Theyeth. Then climb to the top of Kayach Bluffs for a view of Sliammon Lake below, the Salish Sea and Vancouver Island beyond. Run down once more to the shores of Dogleg Pond and Little Sliammon Lake. Then climb over the 700 ft/210 m shoulder of Scout Mountain to reach the town of Powell River. Consider stopping by Shinglemill Pub for a pint, stay a night in town, or continue along the the trail to Inland Lake.
A unique stretch on the Sunshine Coast Trail, the Inland Lake Loop is a 8 mile/13 kilometer wheelchair accessible trail. There are two huts in this section - Inland Lake West and Anthony Island. Both of which give priority to disabled users. Great for families and day runners, this easy section can be completed in a short amount of time.
The landing explores a beautiful section of forest along the shores of Powell Lake. Near the site of the old Fiddlehead Farm, the area is full of history as you skirt the edges of an abandoned orchard.
Prepare yourself for magnificent 360-degree views - you'll just have to get there first. One of the more difficult SCT sections, the Tin Hat Trail climbs about 3,300 ft/1000 m in 4.35 miles/7 kilometers. Once you reach the top, your reward is a fully winterized hut, exposed and overlooking the rugged country all around.
The highest point on the SCT, Mount Troubridge is reached by arguably the trail's toughest climb (and followed by a steep descent). From the 4,280 ft/1305 m summit, you'll have views of Jervis Inlet and the largest section of old growth accessed by the trail. The "hut" is situated just below the summit in a hollow next to Jocelyn Pond and is actually a log cabin.
The run from Fairview Bay to the trail's terminus returns to the Salish Sea shores, just as it began at Sarah Point. Along this rocky section of trail, you might spot the ferry as it connects Earl's Cove and the Lower Coast to the Upper Sunshine Coast. Take a minute to read about the trail at the impressive SCT kiosk -and snag a final selfie here, before finishing at Saltery Bay.
For more information about the SCT, including detailed hut descriptions, maps, and the official guidebook, visit sunshinecoast-trail.com