Well I finally bit the bullet and hiked the Skookumchuck so I could add it to the site. Don't get me wrong, it isn't because it's not worth seeing because believe me, it is. I just prefer a more backwoods, remote type of hike. However, having said this, I was once again (I've been in several times over the years) awestruck by the beauty and power of this amazing phenomena and area. It is always well worth the trip and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Oh and by the way, Skookumchuck is a Chinook First Nation's word meaning "strong water" or "turbulent water".
For me, nothing beats the ocean. Every time I hike near the ocean I'm just in love with the scenery and the smell. I know some people aren't, but I absolutely love it. I wish I could describe the way it makes me feel - there's nothing like it.
So I headed in early (well 9:30 am) to try and avoid the busy time of day. Not too many people heading in, but more coming when I hiked out. I was very lucky today as I hadn't checked the tide chart and I hit the tide right so the water was running pretty fast (and it wasn't even a big tide).
Don't be like me! If you really want to get the most out of this hike, then check the tide chart and plan your trip to coincide with the changing of a big tide if possible (there is an approx. 30 minute window each side). The difference in water level between one side of the narrows and the other can sometimes be more than 2 metres and can run as fast as 30 kms/hour, which is pretty amazing. The bigger the tide, the faster and bigger the rapids.
Flood tides provide the biggest waves and can be best viewed from the Roland Point viewing area. Whirlpool activity is seen during Ebb tides and is best viewed from the North Point viewing area.
If you would like to view a tide table click here. It should take you to a page that indicates the tides at Boom Islet which is right at the narrows.
You can really make a nice trip out of this! Just after you cross the bridge on the road to the trail (you can't drive down it, you have to park out on Egmont Rd. and walk down the road) you will come to a wonderful little bakery called The Green Rosette Bakery. (Please note: If you are just coming to the bakery and not doing the hike you are allowed to drive down.) They have hot drinks, cold drinks, baked goods and breakfast and lunch food. Really great food! Grab something here and take a picnic in with you or stop on your way out and have a bite to eat on their deck in the woods!
Access to the Skookumchuck trail is:
The image below is interactive. It's a Google Earth gadget that embeds the image of the trail route. You can zoom in and out of it with the zoom bar on the right. You can also use the slider bar to move through the route. It's pretty cool.
Click on the map below for a higher resolution pdf version.
At this point it's up to you to decide where you want to go. The best viewing of the Skookumchuck is at North Point and it is closest. Roland Bay is where the kayakers keep their kayaks and this can be a nice place to view them if they are out.
Up to this point the trail has been wheelchair and stroller accessible. It remains pretty good to North Point, but the trail to Roland Bay really isn't accessible.
Bikes are allowed as far as I know, but please be careful if you are riding. There are often many walkers on this trail and sometimes large groups of them. Be respectful of the walkers. I always stop and make way for them if we are coming towards each other head on. Very easy ride to and fro.
Unfortunately, this is a Provincial park which means dogs must be leashed. The road you come in on before the trail starts is actually a local road with traffic and is dangerous for off leash pets