Maria’s Guide to the Sunshine Coast Trail

The Sunshine Coast Trail has been on my bucket list for several years and I finally hiked it in its entirety this past summer. You can read my trail blogs starting with Part I, but I also wanted to create a guide to accompany those posts for anyone thinking of doing the trail. I think this is a great trail for thru hikers because while it is long (180km), it’s not life-altering long (like the PCT). But it is still long enough to require considerable advance planning, so here are some things I learned while planning the trek:

Experience/Fitness Level

The first question to ask yourself is whether you have the experience and ability to hike a trail this long. My longest trail prior to the SCT was 85km, but I’d hiked that distance on 3 separate occasions, so I felt confident that I could attempt 180km. Compared to other popular thru hikes in BC, I would say that the SCT is actually a bit easier (comparing to hikes like the West Coast Trail), but that it shouldn’t be underestimated. I was able to hike at a much faster pace on the SCT than other coastal trails I’ve done, but there is a lot of elevation gain throughout the course of the trail, so you definitely want to be used to climbing mountains before you attempt. However, there are lots of exit points on the trail if it becomes too challenging and the huts can make things more comfortable for newer hikers. That said, if you’ve never backpacked before, get some experience on shorter trails first, or plan to section hike part of the trail instead of the whole thing, because there is a big difference in difficulty when you have to carry all your gear with you, especially on a long trip with heavy quantities of food!

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The Trail

The Sunshine Coast Trail is 178km long on paper, but a bit longer in practice. There have been many re-routes and trail changes throughout the years, so while there’s 178 trail markers on the trail, they’re not all actually 1km apart from each other. I clocked 190km on my GPS when I did the trail. The most notable section is from Tin Hat to Lewis Lake, which is 2-3km longer than indicated, so prepare for slightly longer days than anticipated. In addition, I tracked a cumulative elevation gain of 7500 metres over the course of the trail, so be prepared for a lot of uphill (and downhill if you have bad knees like me).

The trail starts at the far north end of the Upper Sunshine Coast, known as Sarah Point. It’s approximately 50km down the Malaspina Peninsula to Powell River and then the trail meanders through the mountains for another 130km to the trail end at Saltery Bay. The half point of the trail is at Tin Hat Mountain, which is largely regarded as the best viewpoint on the entire trail. There are lots of access points along the trail, but the two easiest are in Powell River (km 50) and Lang Bay (km 150). If you’re section hiking, I’d plan to hike one of these 3 sections, and if you’re thru hiking, these make good resupply points (more on that later).

While you can hike the trail in either direction, the majority of people go from North to South. The trail is set up for people hiking this direction so the trail markers will all be in order. Sarah Point is considerably harder to access than Saltery Bay, so it’s recommended to start at Sarah Point so that you can walk on the ferry when you get to Saltery Bay at the end of your hike and not have to coordinate transportation. For more detailed information about the entire 178km trail, pick up a copy of Eagle Walz’s book, or check out the SCT website.

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Time of Year

Time of year can also play a large role in determining when to hike the trail. If you don’t like crowds, then you may want to avoid the summer months and hike in the Spring or Fall. Summer can also be extremely hot and a lot of the streams can run dry in August, making it more desirable to hike in the shoulder seasons. The benefit of hiking in the summer is that you’re likely to have the driest weather, so if you don’t like hiking in the rain, this might be the best option for you, though the heat can be exhausting.

The challenges with Spring hiking are that if you go too early, there may still be snow on parts of the trail and you’re more likely to encounter rain along the trek. Whereas in Fall, you won’t encounter snow unless you go really late, but the streams are more likely to be dry in early Fall and you’re more likely to get rained on in late Fall. I wanted to do the trail in June, but I ended up doing it in August (when it was very hot) and early September (when the streams were mostly dry). But I didn’t encounter crowds during either time.

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Getting There

Getting to the Sunshine Coast was probably the biggest challenge for me and was the most considerable cost of the trip. If you’re going with a group and have more than 1 car, it’s relatively easy, but if you’re alone or don’t have a car, it’s a bit more challenging. You’ll have to either drive or walk on two different ferries (Horseshoe Bay to Langdale and Earls Cove to Saltery Bay) and prepare to shell out $100+pp to take the shuttle to the trailhead. Saltery Bay and Powell River are accessible by transit, but the trailhead at Sarah Point requires 4WD to access. If you have 4WD, that’s great, if not, make a booking with the Sunshine Coast Shuttle. Here’s the options I’ve identified for getting to the trailhead:

  1. Drive yourself (1 car). Park your car at Earl’s Cove and walk on the ferry, then get the SCT shuttle from Saltery Bay to the Sarah Point Trailhead. If you want to drop off resupplies, then drive on the ferry instead and park at Saltery Bay once you’ve dropped the resupplies and catch the shuttle. Once you finish the trail at Saltery Bay, your car will be waiting for you!
  2. Drive yourself (2 cars). If you have a rugged 4WD with high clearance, you can park one car at Saltery Bay, drop off your resupplies, and drive your second car all the way to the trailhead. If not, drop off your resupplies and catch the shuttle from Powell River to the trailhead. Collect your car at Saltery Bay at the end of your hike and pick up the other car.
  3. Take transit. You can walk on both ferries and there is a connector shuttle that runs between the two ferries in the summer. It runs every day except Thursday, but it only goes once per day. Once you get the second ferry to Saltery Bay, you can get the shuttle to pick you up and transport you to the trailhead, or you can take the city bus to Powell River, drop off your resupply, and then get the shuttle to the trailhead. This was what I did on my first attempt.
  4. Fly. There are several airlines that fly direct to Powell River, but I recommend Harbour Air because it flies directly to the Shingle Mill Pub, which is one of the resupply locations. So you can drop off your resupply when you arrive and then arrange the shuttle to the trailhead. The downside is you can’t fly with fuel or bear spray, but you can purchase both from the shuttle company. This was what I did on my second attempt.

All of these options assume starting at Sarah Point. You can walk off the ferry at Saltery Bay and start from there, but it’s better to take the shuttle for drop off rather than coordinate a pick-up time when you might not know how fast you’ll be hiking. Unless you plan to camp at Sarah Point on your last night and get picked up in the morning.

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Itinerary

Once you’ve established you’re ready to attempt the trail, itinerary becomes an important consideration. You can hike the entire trail in one go, or you can make a couple of trips to complete in section hikes, or even day hikes if you’re ambitious and comfortable with trail running. I decided on one big thru-hike, but circumstance forced me to complete it as two section hikes. You want to be realistic about your abilities when deciding how many days to allot for the trip. Because it’s a long trail, there’s a tendency to want to do a lot of kilometres, but consider whether this will be enjoyable over an extended period of time. If you’re hiking solo, it may be easier to hike longer distances, but if you’re in a group, you will naturally need a slower pace. If you don’t have lightweight gear, also consider that packing 3-8 days of food will present a considerable challenge.

Campsite choice is also an important consideration in determining your itinerary. Are you flexible in where you camp? Are you comfortable staying at tent sites, or do you only want to stay in the huts? Either way, plan to bring a tent because the huts can fill up on summer weekends, though users are supposed to prioritize space in the huts for thru-hikers. Determining how many days you have available for the trip can help you determine your itinerary, just make sure to leave enough time for travel to and from the Sunshine Coast as getting to the trailheads can be somewhat tedious.

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Campsites

You don’t necessarily need to pick exactly where you’re going to camp in advance when you draft your itinerary, but it’s good to set some goals so that you can assess whether you’re ahead or behind your targeted pace while on trail. I decided on 10 nights on the trail and planned my itinerary around that. I generally had a target that I wanted to reach every second night and I was flexible on the opposite nights based on how I was feeling. I wanted to stay at Tin Hat Hut and Walt Hill Hut because I heard they were the most scenic, so I set goals for when I wanted to arrive at those locations. It’s also good to know if there’s any sites you want to avoid, so you can plan around that. For example, I really didn’t like Homestead Rec Site or Lewis Point Rec Site.

Definitely pick up a copy of the SCT guide when assessing where you want to stay. Some campsites are more rugged than others and they don’t all have bathrooms, water sources, or bear caches. Water sources are important because if you stay at a campsite without one, you will have to hike with extra water. Likewise, if you’re staying at sites without bear caches, you’ll need to put extra consideration into how you’ll protect your food. See below for more information on both of these items. Even if you plan to stay only in huts, I still recommend bringing a tent with you because the huts can fill up on popular summer weekends. However, if you’re hiking in the off season, generally you’ll be okay. I’m told the huts were extremely busy in 2021, but when I hiked the trail in 2022, they were virtually empty, both in August and September.

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Gear

Gear is a favourite topic of any hiker. You don’t need expensive gear to go backpacking – I hiked with cheap gear for years and did just fine. But prepare yourself for the weight of it. I’ve invested in some really lightweight gear over the years and it really paid off for me on this thru hike. I was able to hike longer and faster than if I was using cheaper, heavier gear. In some instances I sacrificed comfort for this (a smaller sleeping pad, only the essentials for clothing, a non-freestanding tent), but the comfort of the lighter pack was more than worth it for me.

Fortunately, the SCT is not an alpine hike, so generally you can get away with cooler gear. I always bring a lot of warm gear when I’m going to the alpine, but this wasn’t needed on the SCT, especially in the middle of summer and with the huts. Plus, if you’re doing the hike with a friend, you can share gear to lighten the load. A few things I would definitely still bring include trekking poles, bear spray, and all of the 10 essentials, especially an inreach (or satellite device) and a GPS (or a large power bank for your phone).

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Food

Food is one of my favourite topics when it comes to thru-hiking. Some people get really into calorie counting for a big hike, but I’ve personally never found this was accurate for me and resulted in carrying way more food then I needed. If you’ve done some practice hikes, they should give you a good idea of how much you will generally eat and then plan for slightly larger portions sizes or extra snacks since it’s a long hike. Personally I prefer to bring larger meals in lieu of extra snacks. Generally you will get hungrier the longer you hike, so plan for a bit extra towards the end of the trip. Always bring an extra day of food on a trip of this scale in case of emergency.

I’ve been getting really into dehydrating and I prepped my entire menu for 11 days using my dehydrator. You don’t need a dehydrator to do a multi-day trek, but it can significantly lighten your load. The average person carries 2lbs of food per day, but I was able to get my weight down to just over 1lb per day (12lbs for my 11 days on trail). The easiest way to shed weight is through dehydrated/freeze dried meals. I dehydrated my own, but you can also purchase them from a large suite of options at places like MEC, though these are often a little bulkier and very pricey. Before I got into dehydrating, my preference was to stock up on simple grocery store items like knorr sidekicks, of which there are lots of rice and pasta options, or easy dinners like ramen. The trick is finding some way to add protein. Tuna packets are a good option, but a little heavier than dehydrated proteins. Famous foods carries lots of freeze-dried options.

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Resupplies

Resupplies go hand in hand with food. If you’re fast, you can probably carry all your food from the start, though carrying so much food weight may slow you down. The two easiest resupply points are the Shingle Mill pub in Powell River and the general store in Lang Bay. Shingle Mill is right on the trail, but Lang Bay involves a 2.5km road walk each way. Because of this, I opted for just 1 resupply at the pub. I carried 4 days of food at the start and then picked up 7 days of food from the pub. Another option is to pre-arrange a drop-off from the SCT shuttle company at any point where the trail crosses a road, but this is a pricey option, so I didn’t meet anyone who utilized it. Both the pub and the general store will hold your resupplies free of charge.

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Other Considerations

Water Supply – No matter when you hike the trail, water supply requires constant thought. Not every campsite has a water source, so you may need to carry extra water with you if you plan to camp at one of these sites and you need to know where your last reliable source of water is before you get to the campsite. When I hiked in early August, the majority of streams were still flowing, but when I hiked in early September, almost every stream was dry. This meant that I had to get almost all my water from lakes and ponds, meaning I often had to carry extra water and that a water filter was extremely necessary to purify my water. Streams are a higher quality source of drinking water than lakes or ponds, so plan accordingly when choosing your water treatment system. At times I carried 4-5L of water with me depending on my campsite and last reliable water source – 5L of water weighs 11lbs, so it’s a significant addition to your pack!

Bear Caches – Not every campsite has a bear cache. Most of the huts have them (but not all) and most of the tenting sites don’t have them. Pending on location, it may be very difficult to create a bear hang, so it’s recommended to bring either a bear bin or bear bag on the trail. Everyone has different opinions on bins vs. bags. Personally, I think a bin is the safest option, though I opted for the bear bag for weight reasons. It’s almost impossible for a bear to walk off with your bear bin, but it can walk off or crush your food with a bear bag, so I still tied mine to a tree even though it’s made of kevlar and supposedly bear proof. It was never tested.

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SCT Part V: Confederation Lake to Elk Lake Hut

Click here to start reading Part I.

I was really lucky to have great weather while on the Sunshine Coast Trail. It was hot when me and Emily visited, but clear and sunny. Likewise, when I returned in September, it was cooler, but still nice and sunny. There was one day of rain in the forecast that coordinated with my day hiking from Confederation Lake to Tin Hat Hut. Tin Hat is the highlight of the SCT, so I was a little disappointed initially, but the forecast was looking good for the following day, so I figured that even if I didn’t get the view on the way up, I would still likely get to enjoy it.

It started raining overnight while I was at Confederation Lake, so I was glad to be in the hut. I got up early again to start hiking and was on the trail by 8am, despite the rain. Fortunately I was in the forest, so while it rained my whole hike down from the lake, I never got wet through any of my layers. The annoying thing about Confederation Lake is that after you leave the hut, you immediately undo the 600m of elevation gain from the previous day as the trail continues back down to Fiddlehead Hut on Powell Lake.

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It got dryer as I hiked down and by the time I reached the bottom, it had stopped raining altogether! It’s about 500m off trail to hike down to the hut at Fiddlehead Landing, but of course I made the detour to see the hut. There was a small crowd at Fiddlehead (4 people). The friend from the previous night was there, along with a couple from Vancouver, and a mountain biker. The 3 hikers were also hiking up to Tin Hat for the night, so I had a quick conversation with them before they departed and then chatted with the mountain biker while having a snack and some lunch.

Fiddlehead Hut is really nice and I think it’s more popular than Confederation Lake because of its close proximity to Tin Hat, but I think the Confederation Lake Hut is better overall. The Fiddlehead Hut still has an enclosed sleeping loft, but it’s totally open on the bottom and because of it’s location in the trees, it’s cooler and darker.

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After Fiddlehead, I had 8km to the top of Tin Hat Mountain, but it was almost 1200m in elevation gain, so I had my work cut out for me! As far as climbing goes, I would say Tin Hat is definitely the hardest climb on the whole trail. There are several other climbs, but the climb to Tin Hat feels the steepest and longest (technically Troubridge is longer, but it’s not as steep). I’m actually really thankful for the weather that day because even though the rain had stopped, it was still overcast. It was muggy climbing up the mountain, but not as hot as it would have been with the sun out. Blue sky did poke through a few times and I got one really nice view down into the valley, but the higher I went, the foggier it got.

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The challenging thing about Tin Hat Mountain is that there is no water source at the top. Most of the streams were still running in August, but when I returned in September, almost every creek listed in the guidebook was dry. When the campsite has water it isn’t a problem, but when your campsite doesn’t have water, it makes for large water carries. There’s a stream about 5km before the top, which is the last place to fill up, but even that stream was almost dry. As a precaution, I got most of my water from Powell Lake and then filled up my last bottle at the stream. I carried 5L of water up, which weighs a whopping 11lbs! 5L was definitely overkill, I think I would have been okay with 4L, but I don’t like having to conserve water and be thirsty, so I lugged it all up there for comfort. I wasn’t sure where my next water source would be the next day and I wanted enough water to get me down the mountain to Lewis Lake.

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When I got to the top of the mountain, it was totally fogged in, but the hut is fully enclosed and it was so cozy in there I didn’t even care! Plus, it was the middle of the labour day weekend and I was thrilled to have other people around. The solo hiker was there, along with the couple from Vancouver, as well as a couple from Prague and their cute dog, so 6 of us in total. These 5 other hikers totally gave me life! I was still getting used to solo hiking at this point and it was so much fun to hang out with other people who have similar interests at the end of a long day. Everyone was really nice and talkative and I thought we had a lovely evening sharing about our lives. It really energized me. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my last night camping with other people and it helped to motivate me over the next few days. Tin Hat Mountain is a really special place and I’m so glad I got to share it with such fine folks!

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It was cold at the top with all the clouds, but they did start to clear out and around sunset we got a few glimpses of the view surrounding the hut. Even the limited view was incredible and I was excited for the following morning when it was forecasted to be clear. We decided to go to bed early and then we all got up to catch the sunrise at 6:30am (another benefit of September hiking – later sunrise).

It was totally clear when we woke and we enjoyed our breakfast out on the rocks while the sun came up. After breakfast I packed all my gear, but I opted to hike up to the top of Tin Hat Mountain before continuing on. The hut isn’t located right at the peak, but it’s only another 10-15 minutes to go up to the radio tower at the top. I’m so glad I did this because the view at the top is really out of this world! A definite highlight of the trip for me. The upper Sunshine Coast has so many lakes and mountains, it really makes for the most scenic view and I loved looking out over the backcountry with a 360 degree view. I had a little solo photoshoot at the top before saying goodbye to everyone and continuing on.

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I didn’t see the solo hiker anymore after this as she only had 3 days left in which to finish the entire second half of the trail, and the other couples were heading back to Vancouver. Tin Hat is located at km89, so it’s pretty much exactly at the halfway point. I had 5 days to go before I planned to finish the trail and I hoped I would meet more hikers before then!

I had two options for that night. I could go a short distance (9km) and tent at Lewis Lake, which Carolyn told me was one of her favourites, or I could go a long distance (23km) and camp at the Elk Lake Hut. I would have loved to linger at Tin Hat, but I knew that by nightfall, I’d prefer to be at the hut, so I departed for Elk Lake, which was definitely the right decision distance-wise.

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It was a bit of slog down to Lewis Lake with all the downhill, but the campsite was really lovely! I got there just in time for lunch and took a lake bath and washed some of my clothes before continuing on. I had 14km to go from there, which I wasn’t looking forward to, but it ended up being much easier hiking than anticipated. It was quite flat and I ended up powering through 7km in 90 minutes! That was probably a pace record for me, but it came at a cost and I noticed I had 2 small blisters when I stopped for a snack, so I forced myself to slow down to protect my feet.

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I saw a couple exploring Lewis Lake and 1 solo male hiker going in the opposite direction, otherwise, I didn’t see anyone else all day. The topography was interesting between Tin Hat and Mount Troubridge because you’re pretty much hiking through or along clear cuts the entire way. You can’t see what’s been logged when you drive the sunshine coast along the main highway, but there’s a lot of it going on in the backcountry. I think that’s one reason I didn’t encounter much wildlife, because of the heavy machinery. Though I did have to go through a few detours where the logging had forced the trail elsewhere.

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It’s a pretty gentle uphill for most of the day, the only real challenging part is the last 1-2km, where there’s a steep climb up to the lake. I pushed through, arriving around 4pm, but was immediately disappointed to be the only one at the hut. I expected it, but it was still disappointing. Elk Lake is a small lake with a big log wharf extending out into it. It’s a partially enclosed hut with an open front along the trail and windows looking down on the lake. Unfortunately there was no service at the hut, so it was probably my most anxious night on the trail, also not unexpected seeing how it would be my first night alone.

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I played some music while I cooked dinner and did my nighttime chores. The worst part about camping solo is the monotony before bedtime. I hadn’t brought a book with me, so there was really nothing to do. I had an audiobook, but I was trying to conserve battery, so every minute listening to my audiobook or music was a treat. I killed time until sunset and then opted to go to bed early. I was nervous about bears, but felt reasonably safe in the sleeping loft and was honestly more nervous about mice. I’d heard they could be pretty bad in the huts, but shoutout to everyone keeping the huts clean this season because I didn’t see a single mouse in any of the huts I stayed in! So fortunately, I ended up sleeping better than anticipated my first night alone on the trail and it did get easier after that. Continue reading Part VI.

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SCT Part IV: Powell River to Confederation Lake

Click here to start reading Part I.

When I got off the trail on August 6th, I felt like the disappointment of not finishing was going to swallow me whole. I’ve had to be pretty fluid with a lot of my trip planning through Covid (like everyone else); when my trip to Assiniboine was cancelled in 2020, I did the North Coast Trail; when Seth got a new job in 2021, we postponed our kayak trip to Desolation Sound; and when Jasper caught fire in 2022, Brandon and I relocated to Strathcona Park. But the SCT had been on my bucket list for several years and I had trained for it and prepared all my gear for this year and I really wanted to finish it.

So I did. Carolyn had been forced to do the entire thing solo when me and Emily got off the trail, so I’d like to think she gave me some confidence to return and finish the rest of the trail solo too. I already had time off in early September, so I finished work a little early on the Friday before the Labour Day long weekend and flew back to Powell River for another attempt. Seeing as I got off the trail at the Shingle Mill Pub, the float plane was the perfect way to return. The shuttle company dropped off some of the supplies I couldn’t fly with (bear spray and fuel) and I arrived at the pub around 5pm and was back on the trail within minutes of arriving!

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After leaving the pub, you cross the bridge towards Powell River and then you can immediately jump back on the trail. Emily and I had been planning to camp at Tony Point the night we got off trail, which is 5km from the pub (seen from the float plane in the photo above), so I just picked up my old itinerary and started walking. It’s about an hour to Mowat Bay, which is a popular recreation site on Powell Lake where I stopped for a quick snack, and then another hour to Tony Point, also located on the lake. I did modify my itinerary when I decided to go solo to stay mostly at huts, but given my late start time, I knew I would have to camp the first night.

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Tony Point is a lovely little site next to the water. It has a picnic table, a monument, flat space for ~2 tents, and not much else. I assumed I would be alone, but fortunately, there was another solo female hiker there as well! I was prepared to sleep alone, but was also thrilled to have someone to help ease into solo camping. We ended up crossing paths for several days and it was nice to trade stories.

I went for a quick swim when I arrived and then had supper before setting up my tent. I was feeling pretty confident, but the forest definitely changes when you’re alone at night. On this evening, it was windy, which created a lot of ominous sounds in the woods and the trees kept dropping leaves on my tent, so I was glad for a companion. I kept thinking a bear was walking into the site, so eventually I got up to have a look around. It was clear there was nothing there and that helped ease my mind and eventually I was able to fall asleep. I ended up sleeping in the huts every night after that, so it was a little annoying to carry my tent for another 130km for no reason, but still a good safety precaution.

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It was nice and sunny the following morning, so I set off before 8am. The other hiker was hoping to go all the way to Fiddlehead Hut, but I was only aiming for Confederation Lake Hut. It’s still a lofty 19km of hiking, but I really wanted to go the long route around Inland Lake, so I ended up clocking 24km. I was a little on edge hiking the first morning because I was very weary of bears. The trail continues around Powell Lake before going through the Haywire Bay Car Camping park. Shortly after Haywire Bay, I scared something large in the woods – I never saw it, only heard it running away from me – it was either a bear or a deer, so I was very diligent with my bear calls after that. I saw lots of evidence of bears (poop), but I never actually saw a bear, so I got a lot more comfortable walking around alone in the woods after a few days.

The trail continues around Lost Lake, which is pretty overgrown, before you come to Inland Lake, which I was really looking forward to. Inland Lake is a provincial park with some frontcountry sites, huts, and a huge loop around the lake. If you do the whole loop, it’s 12km, but on the SCT, you can either do the south end (4km) or the north end (8km). I was looking forward to this section because it follows the shoreline around the entire lake and as a result, it’s completely flat. I was determined to do the longer route because there’s a hut on the west side of the lake that can only be accessed on this route.

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I really wanted to visit every hut and take a selfie at each one, so I decided the extra kms were worth it. But I ended up really messing it up. I was having a great time walking around the lake – the kilometers were going by quickly and it was a gorgeous sunny day. I hadn’t yet seen any people, but I was enjoying walking along the lakeside. Such was my enjoyment, that I ended up walking right past the hut without realizing it!! I passed a small log building and picnic shelter that I thought was lovely, but I didn’t stop because according to my GPS (Gaia), the hut was still 2kms away. The paper map shows “Pier Hut” in this location, so I assumed that’s what it was and continued on towards “West Hut” as it’s called on the SCT website. As it turns out, Gaia is wrong about the hut location and West Hut and Pier Hut are in fact the same thing! I didn’t realize my error until 2kms later, so I ended up completely missing it.

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There are 2 huts on Inland Lake: “West/Pier Hut” and “Anthony Island Hut”. My guess is that these two huts were built and designed by BC Parks since they’re in the provincial park and are completely different than all the other huts on the trail. These huts were 1 story and could sleep ~3 people, whereas the rest are all 2 stories with a sleeping loft, so I’m not surprised I didn’t recognize it. I don’t have a photo with Pier Hut, but I don’t regret going the long way around the lake because it was a very beautiful trail that passed quickly. Plus I later learned that the south trail has a detour along most of it, so I was glad I got to spend so much time on the lake, as the south route mostly bypasses it with the detour.

I took a short break at the end of the lake to go for a swim and then continued to Anthony Island Hut for lunch. I finally saw a few people around the lake, but it was pretty empty. I passed a group of day hikers, a family bike riding, and a couple on their paddleboards. Otherwise I didn’t see anyone else on the trail all day! When I stopped for lunch before 1pm, I had already hiked 17km, so it was a big start for me and I was feeling good!

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I was able to maintain this pace since it was mostly flat, but after lunch it was all uphill to Confederation Lake. The trail does 600m of elevation gain in 5km through the forest, so I listened to my audiobook while I trekked up through the woods. It’s a pretty boring and steep trail up to the lake – I’d briefly flirted with the idea of going all the way to Fiddlehead to catch my companion from the night before, but 24km of hiking was definitely enough for me. The most annoying part of Confederation Lake is that when you finally get there, there’s still another 2km through the woods around the lake before you finally get to the hut. But I loved the hut!

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I haven’t heard a lot about Confederation Lake Hut, but it’s really nice! It’s located right on the lake and is fully enclosed, with enough room for a handful of tents. I arrived around 4pm and was the only person there. I took a bath in the lake and then settled in for a snack. I was expecting to be alone at the hut, but it felt nice and safe, so I was okay with it. So I was thrilled when I came back from filtering water and found a family of 4 had arrived for the night! It was an older couple with their grown daughter and her friend/partner. They were super nice and I enjoyed hanging out and chatting with them for the rest of the night after having been alone all day. I’m an extrovert, so I definitely relish the opportunity to chat with people after a day on my own. The theme of my trip was early nights and early mornings though, so I said goodnight as soon as the sun went down.

Continue reading Part V.

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