Beautiful Bowen Island
I’ve been thinking a lot about how little I’ve seen of BC recently, and made the first step to putting this right this month by embarking on a day trip to the very beautiful Bowen Island. Bowen is just a 20 minute ferry ride from Horsehoe Bay in West Vancouver (a day trip in itself), and is known for its hiking, trails, scenery and all round ‘quaintness’. We decided to partake in all of the above and picked a sunny Friday to make our escape.
The bus to Horseshoe Bay is only 30 minutes (and $3.75 one way) from Downtown Vancouver, and the ferry just $10.75 return. This brings the total commute time to just one hour, which is ridiculously low when you realize that you’d be hard pressed to get further than Coquitlam in that time if you headed East instead of West. The ferry was small and the ‘ferry terminal’ at Snug Cove even smaller, consisting of one sign and a ramp. The foot passengers crowded around the cars and were let off first, and we headed straight up the hill to Snug Cove picnic area where we found our first trailhead. I’d spent a lot of time researching some short but moderately challenging trails that would give us the opportunity to see some views and get in a half-decent workout, and Dorman Point was the all round winner. The 2km climb took us approximately 30 minutes, and there were a few steep sections which I knew I’d be feeling in my glutes the next day. The rocky summit at the top was the perfect place for a picnic lunch, and we could clearly see across to Whytecliff Park on the mainland. The walk back down was even quicker, and the copious amount of ferns gave the trail somewhat of a Jurassic Park feel.
Once back at the picnic area we decided to explore what back in the UK would be described as the ‘high street’. Snug Cove’s main road is home to a few small shops, restaurants and coffee houses, and I particularly liked the gift shop-come-chandlery-come ice cream parlour by the beach. After reaching the end of the line of restaurants in little under 3 minutes, we turned off onto a small trail and made our way to Killarney Lake. This trail was around 5km round trip with changing scenery that included an open meadow, an eerie bridge and of course, the lake itself. We decided not to continue along the 4km trail that ran round the lake, instead opting to sit on the rocks, stare at the water and wallow in the tranquility of the scene. It wasn’t quite the infamous turquoise waters of Lake Louise, but for an island just a hour away from Downtown Vancouver, it was pretty special.
As we retraced our steps back along the trail we decided to stop in at the Bowen Memorial Garden, a small area dedicated to the memories of residents and tourists who loved their time on Bowen. We picked our way across the grass and were surprised to find the most beautiful view of the day. The yellow sands of the beach below looked so inviting next to the large expanse of water leading to the mountains on the mainland. It was the perfect picture, and I felt so grateful that we had stepped off the trail and found it.
When we arrived back on the main road we headed straight to Miksa, a restaurant/diner with a large patio and plenty of sun. A local cider and a bread and hummus plate went down a treat, though I made sure to leave room for a maple nut ice cream down by the harbour. The ferry back to West Vancouver was running every hour, so we jumped on the 6:10pm and arrived back at Horsehoe Bay just in time for the bus fare back to Downtown to drop to $2.50. It was a beautiful day on a beautiful island, and is the perfect escape for trail running, longer hikes (like the 7hr Mount Gardner climb) and relaxing away from city life. Bowen Island was on my list of ‘things to do in Vancouver’ when I arrived here in January 2011, and 18 months later it’s one I’m finally able to scratch off.