Mount Gardner combines an opportunity to visit the laid-back island community of Bowen Island with a hike that provides views of Howe Sound, the Sunshine Coast, West Vancouver, and Burrard Inlet.
From the ferry terminal on Bowen, head up the main road and turn right on Cardena Road. A few hundred meters along the road on the left is a parks sign for Crippen Regional Park. Follow this trail and turn right at the first 4-way intersection and continue until you reach Miller Road. Cross the road and continue along the trail for another 15 minutes until you reach the end. Turn right to go to Killarney Lake.
The trail becomes a wide-open meadow. Continue through the meadow and back into the forest. At the end of this section, turn left at the sign to Killarney Lake. A few minutes later you reach a fork and take the left trail. Shortly after this, you should see the lake.
Turn left at the lake and then right immediately after to follow the path along the shore of the lake. After walking for 10 minutes, watch for a trail on your left that is steep (if you reach a bridge across marshy swamp, you have gone too far). Follow this short trail up to the road and turn right walking along the side of the road for 5 minutes. The first street on your left is called Hikers Trail Road. Follow this road uphill to the metal gate marking the start of the trail to Mount Gardner.
Continue uphill past the metal gate until you reach the Skid Trail on your left a short distance later. Follow this trail as it winds through a forested area, making its way uphill. After 20-30 minutes of climbing, the trail forks. Go right towards the gravel road and walk a short distance up the road. On your right, after the steep corner, the trail branches off. Leave the road and follow the trail.
The trail winds around the north side of Mount Gardner. After 30 minutes, turn left and take the trail with the orange markers uphill to the gravel road. Turn right on the gravel road and follow it as it slowly heads downhill to a fork in the road. Turn right at the fork and head up a steep section of road. Near the top, the orange markers signal the start of the trail again. Follow the markers a short distance up a steep section to the first viewpoint of Gambier Island on the right, Keets Island on the left, and the ferry terminal in Gibsons along the Sunshine Coast.
After taking in the view, walk past this point as the trail continues along the edge of Mount Gardner before starting to climb more. Watch for a fork in the trail and a sign pointing the way to the north peak. Follow the trail as it climbs steadily before reaching a steep, rocky section. Use the ropes to pull yourself up towards the peak.
The north peak of Mount Gardner has a radio site facility, which is surprising after spending several hours climbing through a wilderness area. However, a spectacular view can be seen from all sides including out towards the Sunshine Coast on the west side and of West Vancouver and Burrard Inlet on the east slope.
From the south end of the peak the trail begins again. Follow this downward and go left at the junction to continue your hike around Mount Gardner. A short distance later a sign points the way to the south peak. There is no view from this peak so continue along the trail as it begins to descend.
The trail around the mountain drops rapidly through a series of switchbacks before descending at a slower rate. After walking for about 45 minutes you reach a junction. Go right and continue downhill. Another 15 minutes later, another sign points the way to the gravel road or a shortcut. Take the steep shortcut route that will bring you back to the junction at Skid Trail where you were earlier in the day. Continue down along Skid Trail until it connects with the gravel road. A short walk down the gravel road and you are back at the metal gate marking the trailhead.
If you walked or rode a bike from the Snug Cove ferry terminal, head back down the paved road to the main Mt. Gardner Road. Turn right and after a short 5 minute walk the trail on the left side of the road takes you back to the lake. At the lake, turn right and follow the lake passing the picnic area before turning left and a quick right at the sign pointing the way to Snug Cove. Follow the signs or retrace your steps from earlier in the day.
How to get to Mount Gardner
Estimated Driving Time from Vancouver: 45 minutes to Ferry
Mount Gardner is located on Bowen Island, a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay. From the ferry terminal on Bowen Island, it's approximately 3km to the trailhead. It is recommended to park your car at Horseshoe Bay and either walk or bring a bike to ride the first 3km to the trailhead.
Check the ferry schedule with BC Ferries before leaving.
To reach Horseshoe Bay, drive west on Highway #1 (Trans Canada Highway) and watch for a turnoff to the village. Park in the pay parking lot near the ferry terminal and take the scenic 20-minute ferry ride to Snug Cove on Bowen Island.
View a map of Driving directions to Mount Gardner.
Transit Access to Mount Gardner
From downtown Vancouver, take either bus #257 (express) or #250 to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal. From here, you will take the Bowen Island Ferry to Snug Cove.
Note: There is a bus on Bowen Island but it does not go to Mount Gardner, so you will have to walk from Snug Cove.
Dogs at Mount Gardner
Dogs are allowed on Mount Gardner but should be on a leash at all times. Access to the north peak from the trail on the north side requires the use of the rope that is in place there to pull yourself up through this steep section. Dogs are unable to pass through this part of the trail however, they can access the north peak from the trail on the south side which is much easier. Please pick up after your dog. Remember to pack out and properly dispose of all waste so it does not attract wildlife.
Toilets at Mount Gardner
There are no toilets along the Mount Gardner trails. There are washroom facilities at several points along Killarney Lake which is close-by.
Other trails located in the Howe Sound region: