A Favourite Camping Spot
LATE 2020 UPDATE - I HAVE BEEN INFORMED THAT THIS WONDERFUL LITTLE SITE IS NOW A DAY USE ONLY PARK, AND THE OUTHOUSE AT THE TRAIL/FORMER CAMPING AREA HAS BEEN REMOVED.
I WILL KEEP THIS PAGE FOR A TIME TO GIVE FOLKS THIS ALERT, AND AS THE SITE IS WORTH A DAY VISIT FROM NEARBY CAMPSITES LIKE PORPOISE BAY IN SECHELT.
The Provincial Park has worked to expand the wetlands, and one can see many flourishing species of birds, wildlife and plants from the trail.
Part of the appeal of camping at Smuggler Cove is that it feels a little like you've entered into an unexpected, hidden world. And there's history, as the nestled pocket coves attracted smugglers of rum, and Chinese labourers, in days gone by.
The 4km trail is well maintained, accessible for all hikers and cyclists (one or 2 short stretches may require pushing the bike). If you are coming in by vehicle, there's a parking area at the trailhead off Brooks Road (see map below).
As noted above, camping facilities are just the basics. The pic below shows one of several areas cleared and flattened for tents. They are set in a little (~10-20m) from the shoreline, and you'll see a trail heading in just after you pass the outhouses and the info sign about the history of Smuggler Cove. Here's the link to Smuggler Cove park website. There's a notice suggested outhouses may have been decommissioned in October 2017, though it's not really clear if this might just be along the trail, as the 'wilderness campground' remains open. Would appreciate an update if any readers make the trip in. There's lots of forest should it be necessary to use the bush toilet.
Because access to the campground is either by boat or a 4km hike (or by cycle), you generally meet a pretty interesting crowd if you camp at Smuggler Cove.
Just the basics - nice tent clearings set off the main trail, but no tables. As noted above, you need to bring your own water in.
The wider, well-tended trail ends when you reach the Cove. You'll see the outhouse and sign with some history. The trail does continue to the outer seaside, but it is basically a hiking trail (see pic below). But you should definitely check it out, as it'll take you to some picturesque spots along the pocketed coastline.
Boats coming in to Smuggler Cove are advised to do so at low tide, so they can see all the rocks. It's not uncommon to meet some of sailors taking a shore break
This pic shows a stretch of the hiking trail that goes from the campground out to some scenic areas along the rugged coastline. There are a few steep areas, and this trail is not for the bicycle - but really rewards the effort to check things out.
The turnoff west to Smuggler Cove is a couple of kms north along the coast from the village of Halfmoon Bay, which is roughly halfway between Langdale ferry terminal in the south, and Earl's Cove terminal (to Saltery Bay) in the north. It's about 15kms north of Sechelt. There's a store and little restaurant in Halfmoon Bay (just off Sunshine Coast Hwy101), and the bay itself is very scenic. You may want to water up there, or keep an eye out for a creek as you ride.
North of Halfmoon Bay along the highway, keep an eye out for Brooks Road (paved) heading west. It's~3kms from the highway to to the trailhead for Smuggler Cove, which is well signed. Then 4kms of trail to the camping area. Check out the map below.
Can't resist finishing up with a final shot from the wetlands along the fabulous trail into Smuggler Cove. Memorable.