Early season day trip: Gambier’s Mount Artaban

Tackling Mount Artaban makes a great day trip from Vancouver.  You get a boat ride, a summit, views of Howe Sound and the peace and quiet that only leaving the mainland can give you.  Gambier is a world away.  There is no BC Ferry.  There are no amenities, no store or pub, ATM or even vending machine.  You need to be complete self sufficient. There are good docks for accessing the island, and graded gravel roads in the main island communities.

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Mount Artaban is one of the main peaks on Gambier Island in Howe Sound.  It rises 614m on the most southeasterly corner of the island, near Halkett Bay Marine Park.  It makes a great early season trip, when the higher north shore mountains are still a bit too snowy, you can summit a smaller peak and get great views.

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View from the summit looking west to Bowyer Island and the North Shore mountains.

You can start (land/moor your boat) at either the Fircom dock, or the Halkett Bay marine park dock. If you are taking a commercial water taxi from Horseshoe Bay, you’ll be landing at the Fircom dock.

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You’ll walk up gravel roads for the first half hour of the hike, gaining about 150m in elevation, before turning into the forest and containing the rest of the way to the summit on trails.  The trail is reasonably demanding, climbing the remaining 450m or so in under 4kms.  The whole trip is 10kms to and from the Fircom dock. The trip breaks down roughly like this: 1.5kms (150m elevation) on roads; 3.5kms (460m elevation) on trail.

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The trail is well marked and well trodden.  Clear blue and white signs mark the trail access points from the gravel roads, and the trail itself is marked with orange metal disks.

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View from the summit looking west to the north shore mountains.

Once you leave the gravel road, you are in the trees the whole time and there is not much of a view until you break out onto the open rock at the summit. There are good views to the east towards across Howe Sound to the North Shore mountains, including Mt. Brunswick, Mt. Harvey and The Lions.  Have some lunch and bask in the sun and the views before retracing your steps to the dock.

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Be sure to bring lots of water.  There is no water anywhere on the trail (and no store or access to drinking water outside of private homes) and even in the spring it was hot and dry, so you’ll be needing lots.

Getting there:

You will need a boat of some kind to get there.

  1. You can either get a water taxi from Horseshoe Bay
  2. Rent a kayak on Bowen Island and paddle over
  3. Bring your own boat and launch it at Lions Bay marina

Happy Trails!

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