Tunnel Bluffs, 19 Mar 2016

Opinion
Nearly six years since I first (and last) hiked to Tunnel Bluffs I see that much has changed up there. Popularity has not been kind to the bluffs. Sadly the bed of moss that used to cover the rocks has almost completely gone :-( and of course there are now multiple fire rings. I suppose one way of looking at this loss is that it can’t get any worse now the rock is all bare. But the views are the same, and at least they’re still awesome. Surprisingly we had the trail to ourselves (all 10 of us ;-) meeting only a single pair of hikers as we descended.

Last time we hiked to the bluffs from the Lions Bay trailhead; this time we followed the (relatively) new Tunnel Point trail, which starts down on Highway 99. I was pleasantly surprised at the trail – someone has put a lot of work into marking it with yellow squares, even down to ensuring that they have directional info (the little grey squares point left, right, or ahead). Make no mistake, it’s steep but it climbs up through gorgeous forest, which is mostly unlogged and houses a number of impressive Douglas firs. The other nice feature of this trail is the multiple viewpoints along the way which are completely lacking on the alternative approach. It also avoids the crossing of Magnesia Creek which is a potential foot-soaker.

Thanks to Steve for organizing this hike through Wanderung.

Fact
A steep hike mostly through unlogged forest to a panoramic viewpoint overlooking Howe Sound. Classic Sea-to-Sky country hiking! The route is well marked and has an obvious footbed the entire way (in 2010 the last section leading to the bluffs was still a bushwhack through salal – not any more). The trail joins a pleasant old logging road as the gradient levels off.

Parking is plentiful at the “scenic” pullout, but turning into it heading north out of Lions Bay is not an option. We continued on to an unpaved area just before Logger’s Creek and waited for a gap in the traffic to turn around. Still potentially tricky but manageable. There’s no doubt that the most difficult/dangerous part of this trail is getting across the highway from the parking lot.

It’s only March so not much is growing yet (though we noticed lots of salmonberry in Stanley Park on the drive home), with only the huckleberry bushes showing signs of life as they begin to bud. But the birds were very vocal – lots of wrens singing away in the forest, kinglets in the tree tops, a couple of varied thrushes, a flicker or other woodpecker hammering away on a dead tree, and a sooty grouse at the bluffs.

Distance: 8.5 km
Elevation gain: 630 m

Story
Workin’ on it!

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