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Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada

Hiking

Facilities and Services | Pre-trip Checklist | Safety Tips | What You Need to Know

A family hikes in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
Family hiking at Narvaez Bay, Saturna Island
© Parks Canada

The park offers a variety of day hikes and walks for visitors of all ages and abilities, making it easy to choose a trail that is right for you.

Choose from:

  • Shoreline trails to hidden coves and beaches where you can soak your feet in the Pacific
  • Uphill climbs to awe-inspiring views of the Gulf Islands archipelago and surrounding waters
  • Leafy forest trails where you can get closer to nature

The park is a biological hotspot. In addition to the renowned seals, sea lions and whales of the area, the park is home to eagles, herons, and a wide variety of migrating and nesting shore birds.


Facilities and Services

The park maintains 13 designated trails:

  • Washrooms are located at trail heads. NOTE: There are no washrooms at Lyall Creek and Roe Lake.
  • Many trails start at day use areas where picnic tables are available.
  • Ensure that you carry adequate water; potable water is not provided at trail heads.
  • Some trails can be reached by boat only (Princess Margaret or Portland, Russell and Tumbo Islands).
  • Winter Cove and Bennett Bay offer flatter, hardened or gravel trails.
  • Local Parks and Recreation Commissions maintain additional trail networks on Pender, Saturna and Mayne islands.
  • Check out our Hiking and Camping brochure for detailed information about the trails (PDF, 2.75 MB).

Check out our 2014 Hiking, Camping and Boating Guide (PDF, 1.62 MB) to learn more about park facilities including locations and operating dates.


Pre-trip Checklist

When preparing for your hiking trip, ensure that you have all the hiking gear required. Here are some items you might consider packing:

  • Plenty of water – Potable water is only available at car camping locations.
  • Garbage bags – Garbage facilities at car campgrounds only.
  • Hiking boots (non-slip are best)
  • Sunscreen, sun glasses, hat and long sleeve shirt (sunscreen)
  • Park Hiking and Camping Guide
  • Hiking guide book
  • Rain gear and polypropylene or fast- dry clothing
  • Means of communication (cell phone)
  • First aid kit
  • Pocket knife
  • Duct tape
  • Camera

Make sure to check the Important Bulletins for closures and public safety alerts before you leave home.


Safety Tips

When visiting Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, you are in an area where rescue services and medical assistance may take time to reach you in case of an emergency. Ensure that you have the level of training and experience necessary to take responsibility for your safety.

Some safety tips include:

  • Hike with a partner and stay together. Tell a friend or a family member about your hiking plans.
  • Wear sturdy footwear. Hiking boots with ankle support and non-slip soles are best. Rocks, especially along shorelines, can be very slippery. Be aware of rising tides when exploring shorelines and islands. Make sure that you can safely return to land. 
  • Carry a cell phone. NOTE: Be aware that cell phones may not work at all locations in the park due to a variety of environmental factors and your provider’s coverage area. Check with your cell plan provider regarding your coverage.
  • When hiking with children, keep a close eye on them around cliffs, steep drops, and shorelines.
  • If you are lost, remain calm and stay where you are. Call for help. Your chances of being found are much greater if you stay in one place. Wear bright colours.

NOTE: Traditional hunting by First Nations occurs in the park. Consider wearing bright colours, particularly in the winter. For public safety reasons, if you observe hunting in the park, please contact Parks Canada at 1-877-852-3100.

Obtain emergency contact information and learn more about Visitor Safety at Gulf Islands National Park.