Wild Waters of Skookumchuck Narrows
I was blessed by perfect summer weather on a recent cycling tour down the Sunshine Coast. After taking the always stunning ferry from Saltery Bay to Earl's Cove, I decided I was long overdue to pay a visit to Skookumchuck Narrows. Skookumchuck is a Chinook name meaning turbulent water or rapid torrent.
Looking back towards Saltery Bay from the BC ferry to Earl's Cove, through glorious Jervis Inlet
About a km south from Earl's Cove, one branches east at the Egmont turnoff. Continue on the paved, winding road past North & Waugh lakes for 6kms to the Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park Trailhead on your right. Everything is well signed. There is ample parking, with overflow extending along the roadside (see map at bottom).
About a half kilometer after you start, you'll pass one of the more tempting offers you'll ever find along a wilderness trail (pic above - open only in season). I couldn't resist some coffee and great chocolate cake.
Most of the trail is well groomed (see below) and there's no need to worry about going off route. There are a couple of steeper, rockier stretches. You'll pass along the south shores of Brown Lake. I was there on a Tuesday afternoon, and there were lots of other visitors, of all ages, along the trail.
The Narrows (below) is where the waters of landlocked Sechelt Inlet to the south show the awesome power of turbulent tidal rapids. The difference in water levels between one side of the rapids and the other sometimes exceeds 2 metres in height, and 200 billion gallons of water flow through the Narrows. Current speeds can exceed 30km/hr, the 2nd fastest tidal surge in the world.
They have signboards near the start of the trail with tidal schedules, highlighting the best viewing times. I reached the Narrows outside peak surge times (see below), but was still wowed. Large outflowing tides are best viewed from the spot below: tides flowing south into land-locked Sechelt Inlet are best viewed from Roland Point, about 10 minutes further south along the trail.
The Narrows are famous for daredevil paddlers riding the tidal surge. Only very experienced paddlers should attempt this. (To see some paddlers in action, do a YouTube search for "Skookumchuck".)
Once you get back to the Trailhead, check out Egmont, stretched along the seaside, popular with boaters and sport fishermen from around the world. There are several RV/Campgrounds, hotels, tour companies, a pub (and an ice cream stand!). This is a outdoor tourism village that shrinks dramatically in the offseason.
Gorgeous views from a seaside marina in Egmont.
If you are coming to Skookumchuck along the Sunshine Coast from the south, it is approximately 84kms north along the Sunshine Coast Highway from Langdale Ferry Terminal (connections to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver) to the Egmont turnoff. It is roughly 43 kms north of Sechelt to the turnoff.