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Trees clustered together in the sub alpine stand a much better chance of surviving the harsh conditions. Called krumholtz, these tree islands are miniature ecosystems unto themselves, providing mutual protection against the elements while acting as a catch basin for moisture. A krumholtz provides habitat for lesser plant species as well as insects, birds and mammals big and small. Usually trees in the krumholtz, German for "crooked wood," are old if not ancient, stunted by a short growing season, harsh weather and a paucity of nutrient-rich soil. Branches tend to flourish on the downwind side only.
Illustration by Manami Kimura
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Bowen Island: Mount Gardner Trail E-mail
(17 - user rating)
Written by Brian Grover   
Access: See Introduction
Level: Challenging
Distance: 17 km
Time: 6.5 hr
Elevation Change: 756 m
Map: 92 G/6
Season: Year Round

The easiest way to reach the trailhead to Mount Gardner is go straight up Government Road from the ferry dock turning right onto Mount Gardner Road near the Bowen Island Community School. Continue past the recycling depot to the Killarney Lake Picnic Area. A more attractive but roundabout route would be to follow the previous hike as far as the picnic area at the outfall of Killarney Lake.

From the dam either stay on the road or follow the lakeside in a clockwise direction to where a gravel bar allows unimpeded access to the lakeshore. Cross the bridge here and look for a trail leading left, away from the lake. Upon reaching Mount Gardner Road turn right and walk as far as the next road on the left. The paved road changes names at this point with Mount Gardner Road continuing uphill as a gravel road. If hiking in a hurry or on a mountain bike stay with the secondary road to reach the summit in record time.

Looking back from Artisan Lane above Mt Gardner Road reveals an exquisite panorama overlooking Snug Cove
Ferry to Bowen Island on a foggy winter day

For a more pleasant hiking experience however, climb Mount Gardner Road for 20 minutes or so to just beyond the gate which blocks public vehicle access. A short distance further on, clearly-marked Skid Trail leads off to the left dropping down at first to a creek crossing then up again. The route is decidedly up for the next half-hour before branching into two trails. The right fork leads back to Mount Gardner access road while the left fork, now called Short Cut, stays with the forest. Take the short cut, bearing left when you reach Mount Gardner South Trail. As you might expect the access road lies to the right. Forty minutes further on bear right and continue climbing through the steep switchbacks of the Old Trail. Head first to the 756-metre South Peak, just to say you did it, then cut over to North Peak for a panorama overlooking Howe Sound. The lower North Peak is topped with a microwave transmission site.

Return via Mount Gardner North Trail for more views of Keats Island and the Sechelt Peninsula beyond it. To avoid retracing your steps descend the mountain over either the Bluewater Trail or Bowen Bay Trail. A rudimentary bus service operates hourly during morning and evening rush hours Monday to Friday. If able to reach Bowen Bay Road between 4 and 6 pm plan on the flagging down the bus. Expect the bus across the road from the foot of Bowen Bay Trail at about 20 minutes after the hour. Get a transfer as it is usable throughout the TransLink system of the Lower Mainland.




+2 #1 Sylvia 2010-11-04 00:50
Great one day hike, and a great description!
What I would add is:

If you are planning to take a rest/picnic and sit down a while to enjoy - do not do it at the top. It is really rather ugly up there with all the "human gear" - helicopter landing sites and radio transmitters that also make an annoying sound. Instead - sit down for a while just before you take on the last climb to the top (where the trails fork) - it is a beautiful forest slope - straight stems wherever you look. And, after you have been at the top, walk down the North trail until you reach the view-point on the north side of the mountain (you can't miss it). That is the place where I would have had my picnic (..if I hadn't already eaten it).

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