Saturday, 2 July 2016

Check out Hornby Island for picturesque hiking trails

By Keith and Heather Nicol
     On our most recent trip to Hornby Island in late June, 2016 we decided to do some hiking in addition to sea kayaking and mountain biking. Hornby Island is located 2 ferry rides from the mainland of Vancouver Island. Fortunately the ferries are short (just 10 minutes) and they are timed so that you can meet the Hornby Island ferry if you drive straight across Denman Island. We left Courtenay at 9:10 am and were on Hornby Island by 10:50 am. 
Norm Reynolds enjoys the view from Helliwell Park
      Perhaps the island’s most iconic hike is the 5 km loop in Helliwell Provincial Park. The trail traverses some scenic cliffs and also the Garry oak ecosystem with its open grassy understory and numerous arbutus trees are another reason for walking this trail. The trail is mostly flat with a few slight undulations and you should allow at least an hour to do the hike. The trail is well marked and easy to follow and be sure to pick up an interpretative map at the start of the hike. We saw lots of families enjoying the hike . The first section ,which branches to the right is wheel chair accessible.
Heather taking in the view over Lambert Channel from the Middle Bench trail
       But there is more to hiking on Hornby Island than the 5 km Helliwell trail. There is also a great trail between Ford Cove and Shingle Spit. This trail undulates and has some stairs in places. There are scenic views of Lambert Channel, Denman Island and the Beaufort Range through the trees and you should allow about 40 minutes to complete the 3 km (1 way trail). There is no loop on this trail so unless you park a car at each end you will need to repeat the same trail in reverse. Also be aware that it is a popular cycle trail so keep your eye peeled for bikes. 
The Middle Bench trail offers splendid vistas
  Another fine trail is the Middle Bench hiking trail which starts at the top of Mountain Road near the ferry terminal. The coordinates for the parking lot are 10U 0376992E 5485806N and the trail entrance is obvious. The first section of trail follows a bike trail but watch for the hiking trail which angles off to the right and leads to the cliff area. This trail offers amazing views of Lambert Channel, Denman Island and beyond and there is even a bench to sit on. We did this trip in the early evening and the lighting was awesome.  We didn`t walk the entire length but it appears that this section is about 1.5 km (1 way) before it joins the middle bench cycling trail. For both of these trails it pays to buy the Hornby Island Trailmap which features mainly mountain bike routes and roads but also hiking trails. On our next visit we plan to do the entire middle bench hiking route since the views are so spectacular.  For more information see:

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