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From rainforest to mountain: Discover Vancouver Island's hiking gems

Explore Vancouver Island's diverse trails with Squamish author Taryn Eyton's latest hiking guidebook.

If you are thinking of hiking on Vancouver Island this summer, you might want to consider picking up this new guidebook to tuck into your backpack. 

Backpacking on Vancouver Island: The Essential Guide to the Best Multi-Day Trips and Day Hikes (Greystone Books), will be released on April 2. 

This is Squamish author Taryn Eyton's second hiking guidebook. 

It comes on the heels of her Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia: The Essential Guide to Overnight Hiking Trails, which was released in May of 2021.

It made the 2021 BC Bestsellers list. 

Sea to Sky Corridor locals may also know Eyton as a Leave No Trace master educator and for her advocacy work with the non-profit Friends of Garibaldi Park Society, which works to help maintain and repair Garibaldi Provincial Park.

After Eyton released her first book, people asked her if it included Vancouver Island, which it didn't. Focusing on the island, where she likes to hike anyway, seemed like a natural fit for her second hiking book.

"I've spent so much time hiking on Vancouver Island; my first ever backpacking trip was the West Coast Trail," she recalled. 

Of course, she has hiked all the trails she writes about in the book. 

The bulk of the research was completed in the summer of 2021 and 2022.

The hikes featured run the gamut from easy to more advanced, and from well-known favourites to trails some may never have heard of.

"I wanted to show people, who might not know, that Vancouver Island has lots of beautiful rainforest hikes and river hikes and mountain hikes. It's not just coastal hikes," she said.

Eyton said it has been an interesting shift to hike as a working author doing research rather than as a hobby.

"The challenge, unless you hike by yourself, is that I'm working. My friends who are hiking with me are on vacation. So, balancing those different mindsets of me going, 'Yeah, I know, you don't feel like you're ready for a break. But I need to take a picture of this toilet,'" she said, with a laugh.

"The things you pay attention to are different when you're trying to write about a hike for a broader audience than when you're just enjoying the hike for yourself.”

As for the commonly heard resident complaint about exposing local secret trails, Eyton strongly believes that gatekeeping these places is not the best option.

"I've talked a lot about this idea of gatekeeping some places and telling people, 'We're not going to talk about these places. You need to be a local, you need to be an expert. These aren't for you.' And I don't really subscribe to that policy,' she said. 

"I think in the internet age, somebody's going to find out about all these places regardless. So if they're going to find out about them, let's tell people the most responsible way to go there. Let's be honest with people about what you're going to expect when you get there—that it might be busy; it may be difficult to get to a bathroom—and give people the tools they need to prepare to visit these places responsibly."

Hear from her in person

Eyton will give a presentation on April 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Squamish's Valhalla Pure Outfitters, including behind-the-scenes tales of what it is like to write such a guidebook. 

She will also sign her latest book.

Get tickets on Eventbrite at "Backpacking on Vancouver Island Book Launch in Squamish with Taryn Eyton."

All proceeds from the event will be split between two organizations that are close to her heart: the Friends of Garibaldi Park Society and Colour the Trails.

Find out more about her books and Eyton herself on her website Happiest Outdoors.