Free Shipping over $49*
July 2024

Complete Guide to Hiking Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island

Photos & Trip Report by: Cassie Markham (@cassiemarkham_)

Looking for something a little different for an adventurous day trip?

Just a short ferry ride from Vancouver lies a hidden paradise waiting to be explored – Bowen Island. And at the heart of this island gem stands Mt. Gardner, offering breathtaking views looking back at Vancouver and Fraser Valley and also of the Coast Mountains.

Personally I’m not a huge fan of ocean views, but the views from both the tent pads a top Mt. Gardner truly surprised me.

Join us on a day trip adventure as we conquer Mt. Gardner and discover the natural beauty of Bowen Island.

Getting to Bowen Island:

To begin your journey, catch a ferry from Horseshoe Bay Terminal in West Vancouver to Snug Cove on Bowen Island. Ferries depart regularly throughout the day, and the crossing takes just 20 minutes. Once you arrive at Snug Cove, follow the signs to the Mt. Gardner trailhead, located near the Bowen Island Community School.

Note: You can either walk on and walk-the extra distance to the trailhead, take public transit on the island or bring your own vehicle. Just be warned if bringing your own vehicle, parking is very limited and you may end up walking a good distance anyway!

Trail Overview:

  • Distance: 10km round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 685m
  • Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate Hike
  • Location: Bowen Island
  • Access: Paved Road

The Mt. Gardner trail is a challenging but rewarding 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) loop hike that takes approximately 4-6 hours to complete. The trail begins with a steep ascent through lush forest, with well-marked switchbacks guiding you along the way. As you climb higher, keep an eye out for glimpses of Howe Sound and the surrounding islands peeking through the trees.

The trail itself was fairly well marked and easy to navigate, however, there are a few other trails in the surrounding trail network so we would recommend bringing a GPS or downloading the trail map on your phone in advance to ensure you don’t take a wrong turn.  There was a short rope section, but Matt found this easy-enough to navigate, even with Aspen in the Osprey Poco carrier.

Scenic Highlights:

As you reach the summit of Mt. Gardner, prepare to be rewarded with panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see. To the east, you'll be treated to sweeping vistas of the Coast Mountains and the city of Vancouver shimmering in the distance. On a clear day you can see all the way out to Mt. Baker. To the west, the rugged coastline of Bowen Island unfolds before you, dotted with picturesque bays and inlets.

Tips for Success:

  • Start early to beat the crowds and make the most of your day on the trail.
  • Pack plenty of water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized throughout your hike. We didn’t find any water sources along the way.
  • Dress in layers, as weather conditions on the mountain can change rapidly.
  • Keep an eye out for wildlife, including deer, eagles, and even occasional black bears.

Post-Hike Refreshments:

After conquering Mt. Gardner, reward yourself with a well-deserved meal at one of the charming cafes or restaurants in Snug Cove. Whether you're craving fresh seafood, artisanal pizza, or gourmet sandwiches, Bowen Island has something to satisfy every palate.

Additional Activities:

If you have time to spare after your hike, consider exploring more of Bowen Island's attractions. Take a leisurely stroll along the scenic waterfront, rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the island's pristine coastline, or simply relax and unwind on one of the island's tranquil beaches.

And as always, here’s a few reminders for recreating responsibly from the Parks Canada team and Leave No Trace Canada:

Rules for exploring our beautiful backyard:

Plan and prepare:

Be considerate of other visitors:

  • On narrow trails, give way to uphill hikers.
  • Take breaks on durable surfaces off the trail.
  • Give freedom for the sounds of nature. Avoid excessive noise. 
  • Pack out what you pack in, and help clean up the trails on your adventures.