How do you access the Sunshine Coast Trail?
There are over two dozen entry points to the trail via highway and logging roads. Thanks to a 2015 mapping project, you will find lots of highway signage to indicate entry points to help you find your way.
Access to the SCT is also provided by these local businesses:
*Note that the SCT is intended to be traversed from North to South. Why?
- There are twice as many markers
- Better signage
- Lock-step with other hikers which creates less bottle-necking
- Guidebook reads North to South as well
What are the accommodations/camping options like?
You are allowed to camp in the numerous designated areas along the trail. Most of the campsites have an outhouse, a picnic table, and some even have basic shelters and fully winterized huts, which are open to everyone on a shared-use basis and can accommodate up to 12 people. There are also many off-trail B&Bs, motels and hotels nearby, which is a favourite way to access the trail on day trips with drop-off and pick-up options.
Hut Etiquette: The huts cannot be booked ahead of time – they are on a first-come, first-serve basis for sleeping. You cannot “save” or “reserve” spots in the huts. One night stays only. Priority should be given to thru-hikers. Please also note that the stoves in the huts are not stocked. Be sure to bring your own pellets and starter. Available in smaller quantities at the PR Visitor Centre.
Group Hiking Etiquette: Groups of 8 or more should consider staying at camp sites along the trail.
Are hikers allowed to have campfires?
Campfires are allowed as long as there is not a Provincial or regional fire ban in effect. Use existing fire pits and dead wood only, please. Ensure that your campfire is completely extinguished before leaving a site and cold to the touch.
May I bring my dog on the trail?
Dogs on leashes are allowed anywhere on the Sunshine Coast Trail. Given that significant parts of the trail are on private land or in public parks, there are restrictions regarding off-leash dogs and dogs that do not interact well with others. Dogs are not allowed in the huts.
Can I count on the pellet stoves in the huts to keep me warm?
We strongly recommend that you do NOT depend on either the pellet stoves being operational or there being pellet fuel in the free huts. qPAWS volunteers do their best to maintain the stoves and occasionally provide pellets and fire starter for emergencies.
Is there cell phone coverage along the trail?
Reception on the trail is sporadic, especially in valleys where coverage is blocked by the mountains. It is best on slopes facing Powell River or the Salish Sea. Check with your service provider for specific coverage. Don’t rely on constant coverage on the trail. GPS stand-alone devices are recommended as they are more accurate than cell phones.
What type of clothing should I bring?
Never leave home without proper rain gear and footwear; you are on the coast and in the mountains where weather can change dramatically without warning.
How difficult is the trail?
The trail is well built with moderate sections and difficult terrain. A few parts of the trail are family friendly, but cumulatively it is a challenge even to the most seasoned experts.
*KM Markers: Distances between some kilometre markers have been stretched or shortened based on past re-routes due to ongoing forestry activities. While this can be disconcerting it still serves an important safety function in that it helps hikers to communicate where they are if they are in need of being picked up.
What about safety at night?
The huts have sleeping lofts that can be closed at night to keep the critters out. Be prepared to hang your food in a bear bag well away from your campsite or hut.
Are there toilets along the trail?
Composting toilets can be found at most of the huts as well as pit toilets at various locations on the trail.
Where can I get water along the trail?
There is access to water along most of the trail via creeks and lakes, except some high mountain summits where you will of course not have water. If you are going on a multi-day hike and will need access to water other than what you can carry, please inform yourself about water access in the area you are visiting. The best way to do this is by getting a copy of the SCT guidebook. You are advised to boil your water or use a purification system.
What is the weather like?
Weather can be changeable and is driest during the months of May – September. Be sure to keep hydrated, especially on hot days. Check the weather conditions in advance. Be advised that snow can still be present at higher elevations even in early summer.
What wildlife might I see?
Bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes, elk, deer, racoons, frogs, many species of birds, from eagles to marbled murrelets, plus sea mammals like otters, seals, dolphins, sea lions and whales are just a few of the creatures you may encounter along the way. Be aware and travel with care and respect. Bear bells are available at the Powell River Visitor Infocentre (4760 Joyce Avenue).
Is it safe to use the logging roads?
Operating hours for forestry companies are typically Monday to Friday (excluding holidays) from 5am to 6pm. Be mindful of logging traffic and signage. When driving, always obey speed limits and utilize headlights. Check the Western Forest Road Info website for more information on activity in the area.
Where do we park?
Free (unsecured) Parking: Saltery Bay Kiosk, Lang Bay, Dixon Road, and in Powell River
Pay Parking: Paradise Pay, Government Marina, Mowat Bay, Shinglemill, Lund, Lang Bay Store
Where can we re-supply?
SCT Shuttle offers re-supply services. The Shinglemill will provide free/unsecured storage of personal items. Contact them directly for more information.