Daffodil Point, 24 Apr 2023

Opinion:

A very short hike – more of a walk really – mostly on old roads to the most delightful viewpoint where a Garry oak meadows reaches the sea. I’d be hard pushed to say this is a great hike, but it’s not hard and the viewpoint at Daffodil Point is a wonderful spot to sit awhile. It’s all about that viewpoint at the end, really. If you have an hour or so to fill in, this little hike is perfect.

Fact

Parking was plentiful on a Monday morning, though I can see this place being popular in the summer. The trailhead had no outhouses that we could see. We followed the direct path through to the viewpoint (trail #9 on the BC Parks map) for our outbound journey and took a couple of the loops (trail #9a and trail #10) on the return for a change of scene. Trail #10 was worth following – although it was a very steep climb – due to the massive conglomerate boulders that have fallen from the summit above.

There were fewer flowers than expected but we stumbled across the richest patch of fairy slipper orchids we’ve ever seen, plus found many others in a few other spots along the trail. The eponymous daffodils were blooming at the viewpoint – native wildflowers seem to be in short supply even among the Garry oaks but we found what looked like common camas leaves (and a bud or two), as well as chickweed monkey flower, miner’s lettuce, and a small unknown white flower. In the forest we saw patches of starflower leaves with buds that will look great in a week or two.

Wildlife was mostly limited to birds, though we did spot a few seastars in the shallows at the viewpoint. We saw and heard a belted kingfisher, robins, juncoes, chickadees, flickers, plus a few turkey vultures high above. Our bird-song app (Merlin) identified orange-crowned warblers (one of which we saw fly from a branch next to the trail), a Hutton’s vireo, and a Pacific-slope flycatcher, and we heard a grouse calling somewhere in the forest.

Distance: 3.5 km
Elevation gain: 180 m
Time: 1 h 29 m (including time sitting at the Point)

Key moments:

  • 😀 Finding the most amazing clusters of fairyslipper orchids – there must have been two-dozen or more in one spot!
  • 😀 Basking on the rocks at Daffodil Point, looking out over the calm waters between Salt Spring Island and Vancouver Island
  • 😀 Finding some huge conglomerate boulders in the forest that must have tumbled from Mount Maxwell high above
  • 😀 Hearing and identifying some familiar-sounding birds in the trees above us – I highly recommend getting an app for identifying bird song!
  • 🙁 Nothing really – okay if I’m picky, I found the forest to be a little disappointing, with the hand of settlers being all too obvious

This trail lies on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands of the Á,LEṈENEȻ ȽTE (W̱SÁNEĆ), Quw’utsun, Stz’uminus, Semiahmoo, and sc̓əwaθenaɁɬ təməxʷ (Tsawwassen) First Nations.

Story

The only sunny day of our extra long weekend on Salt Spring Island, and our original plan was to hike up to Baynes Peak (Mount Maxwell) though we quickly realized we didn’t have time for that. We settled on an easy wander out to a viewpoint, starting in Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park. It was tempting to bask in the sun as we pulled into the parking lot but we pulled on our boots and followed the old road that led away from the car. It was easy walking and we really didn’t need our hiking boots – we met a few older couples out walking and for sure they didn’t have hiking boots on. I guess it was just habit! Nonetheless we enjoyed the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.

We walked up the hill, pausing at the sound of several bird calls above us that prompted me to use the Merlin app to identify them as orange-crowned warblers, Hutton’s vireos, and Pacific-slope flycatchers, the latter in particular having a call I’ve long-wanted to identify. Although we welcomed the sun, the shady forest was more comfortable for walking, especially on this more-than-expected uphill. We soon reached the high point of the trail, where the remains of an old abandoned car lay (now just the engine block, frame, and rear axle), and spotted an incredible array of fairyslipper orchids that stopped us in our tracks.

Wow! In a small patch of straggly second-growth trees we counted two dozen or more of the bright pink orchids. A cluster of eight caught my eye and I stooped to take a picture or ten. That was most unexpected as I normally associate these orchids with undisturbed ground, unlike this old roadway. We continued onwards, now beginning a descent towards the sea again where we emerged at a rocky, terraced Garry oak meadow. The trees were only just beginning to bud but we stopped and marvelled at their craggy bark and wonderful shapes. A couple of mature trees must have been 20 metres high. I wanted to get closer to get some photos of the bark but didn’t fancy running the gauntlet with the local ticks hiding in the long grass.

A few minutes later and we took a side path down to the water’s edge. Clusters of daffodils bloomed all across the area – I guess that’s why it’s informally known as Daffodil Point – but I was pleased to find what looked to be a few camas buds just pushing up through their green leaves. Yay for at least some native plants still growing here. We walked over to a different set of rocks and sat with our backs to the warm sun and relaxed awhile. The sea was perfectly calm, reflecting the puffy clouds and blue sky above. It was so serene here, so tranquil. We just sat and looked out over the water.

After the other couple wandered off, I explored the shore a bit, spotting a few sea stars among the seaweed. We walked over to where they’d been and followed what appeared to be a narrow trail for a short distance before realizing it didn’t really go anywhere. As we turned back, tiny spots of yellow caught my eye and I bent down to photograph some tiny chickweed monkey flower growing on the wet rocks. It’s such a tiny flower but so bright and cheerful with its red spots lining the inside of the flower. With my eye now attuned to small details, I also noticed miner’s lettuce beginning to bloom, plus a couple of other (unidentified) tiny flowers.

As we walked back to pick up the actual trail, we realized the rocks around us formed a series of terraces, probably from when someone lived here and undoubtedly had created a garden. If there was a house, there was no sign any more, yet we soon found another relic from the past – a second abandoned old car. Really. I guess it’s a fine line between garbage or litter and historical artefacts.

We turned to walk uphill on the trail, now following a new trail that would make a loop of our walk. It was a surprisingly steep climb! Thankfully it soon levelled off and we followed the much narrower path through the forest to rejoin the main trail. We passed by the orchid patch and then took another trail option to make a second loop – the GPS track looks a bit like a stretched out figure eight. This too led uphill very steeply at first, passing an enormous boulder of conglomerate rock that had fallen from the summit of Baynes Peak at some point. The trail soon turned into another old road, though barely recognizable really. It was nice easy walking – apart from the rude awakening for our legs and lungs – even if the forest was not the most inspiring, having been clearcut at some point in the past. At least a number of large arbutus trees had been spared and we admired each of those as we passed.

The trail climbed steeply again and we found ourselves next to a few even bigger conglomerate boulders. (Here’s a thought: can a chunk of conglomerate rock be called a boulder? After all, it’s made up of smaller rocks and boulders…) Here a couple of trees had grown up next to the boulders giving them some scale and they reminded us of the huge boulders in Lynn Headwaters park. We wandered on, traversing the mountainside and eventually descending to a trail junction with another wonderful patch of fairyslipper orchids, some of them lit up beautifully in the sun. Down and down we went through the sunny forest, soon reaching the parking lot.

So definitely not the most exciting or exhilarating hike but unexpectedly lovely in its own way. Highly recommended if you’re on Salt Spring and need a short walk with a bit of elevation gain.

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