Hiking Trail Review: Mount Gardner and Killarney Lake Loop, Bowen Island, BC

Location: Bowen Island, BC
Park here: Horseshoe Bay or Snug Cove Ferry Terminal
Public Transport: #257 Bus to Horseshoe Bay; direct ferry to Bowen Island

Hike Distance: 16 km loop
Hike Duration: 5-6 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: 810 m
Difficulty: Moderate
What Makes it Moderate: Steady, steep incline on an easy to lose trail
Trail website: Click here

Beautiful Panoramic View of a trail in a Green Rain Forest during a sunny day. Taken in Pebbly Beach, Bowen Island, British Columbia, Canada.iStockMount Gardner, with its dense forest and meandering trails, is a charming little summit located on the even more charming Bowen Island.

Finding the Trailhead:

From downtown Vancouver, catch the #257 Horseshoe Bay Express, then purchase your return tickets for the ferry.

getting the ferryBen Gregory

A brief but beautiful trip across the water takes you into Snug Cove, and your hike starts directly from here.

The Trail Itself:

Take the first right, following signs for ‘Park Trail to Lake.’

trailheadBen GregoryAfter a short walk, turn left into Crippen Regional Park and follow signs for Killarney Lake. You’ll walk past Bowen Island Memorial Garden, across Miller Road and continue to the lake. This is a lovely, gentle section through the woods.

picnic areaBen Gregory

From the beautiful lake picnic area, jump onto the Killarney Lake Loop Trail and get right out to the water’s edge before turning left to get up to Mt. Gardner Road.

‘Hikers Trail Road’ is the sign to look out for, with the summit trail starting here.

image of no through road signBen GregoryThe Hikers Trail Road (HTR) will take you up through the initial, steep gravel road and into thick forest. It’s well marked by posts at each intersection, until the forest where you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for the subtle orange markers.

in the treesBen Gregory

The North Summit Trail is quite difficult to follow. With your trusty orange trail markers sporadically placed, it’s only the well-worn ground of the thin path that can help you progress from here. Don’t let this put you off though; it’s a fun route to the top, and the views will all be worth it.

North Summit TrailBen GregoryReaching a fork in the road, choose to take the more challenging but adventurous scramble to the top of North Summit or take the milder Mt. Gardner Loop Trail to approach the summit from the other side.

Fork in the roadBen Gregory

The North Summit is where you’ll find the best views.

scramble hike fun outdoors roots trees mountainsBen Gregory

From the summit, follow Skid trail to descend along a beautiful forest trail and alongside a small creek, before joining the HTR at the bottom.

On your way back to Snug Cove, stop off at Bowen Island Pub for some delicious food and a celebratory pint or two.

Bowen Island cute cozy snugBen Gregory

Before You Go:

  • Download a trail map—the forest trail can be hard to follow
  • Take plenty of water as there’s none on the trail
  • Start early in the morning—the forest will keep you cool, and the afternoon can be spent in Snug Cove!

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