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Editorial: Discover the Sea to Sky Marine Trail

Ditch the squeeze on local fair-weather land favourites as BC Marine Trail expands with new tent platforms in Howe Sound.
Camping at Apodaca Park, along the Sea to Sky Marine Trail.

While locals rightfully complain of being more and more squeezed out of favourite fair weather spots (does any local here go to Brohm, the Stawamus Chief, or Cat Lake or out to the Ashlu on long weekends anymore?) Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound remains a relatively quiet oasis that is under-explored.  

And the 42 kilometres-long (26 mile) fjord can be paddled year-round.

Recently the non-profit BC Marine Trails Network Association announced it had installed five new tent platforms in Howe Sound along the Sea to Sky Marine Trail

The Thornborough Channel Recreation Site—on the west shore of Howe Sound, north of Gambier Island—has three new platforms, while the Zorro Bay Recreation Site— which is accessible from Porteau Cove—has two.

Never heard of the Sea to Sky Marine Trail? You likely aren’t alone. 

It officially opened in June 2015 and is the result of the tireless efforts of members of BC Marine Trails and the Sea Kayak Association of BC. It connects Horseshoe Bay to Squamish and has a series of camping spots that can be reached by canoe or kayak on Howe Sound.

There are six recreation sites and three provincial campsites on the Sea-to-Sky Trail.

The region looks very different by water.

 Watch a wide variety of birds fly overhead or dive into the water along the shore, meet sea lions and seals, and maybe even an orca or dolphin while you paddle. 

There are a variety of fish in Howe Sound, including steelhead trout, cutthroat trout, coho, chinook salmon, and chum salmon. 

You may spot deer, cougars, black bears, bobcats, coyotes and more along the shores.

After an inspiring paddle, let the sound of the waves lull you to a restful sleep at the campsite. 

The next day, take a dip and explore the coastline before heading to the next spot campsite. You are guaranteed to see fewer people over days than at most spots on land, even in the busiest part of the summer tourist season. 

Of course, this isn’t a risk-free activity. Don’t attempt to navigate the trail unless you are an experienced paddler, or have taken a course, know the conditions of the sound and are uber prepared. 

Respect the land by leaving no trace. 

Connect with the Squamish Paddling Club for helpful local information. There are also Squamish companies that provide kayaks, canoes and supplies to buy; their staff can offer lots of advice, too. And there are companies that provide local lessons and rentals. (Support local because it is the right thing to do, but also because local knows best what you need to know before you go paddling on Howe Sound.)

Let the land dwellers have some of those popular spots, there are plenty of areas for the rest of us to roam this summer on the water.