Hiking to Tunnel Bluffs is one of those trails that I have been meaning to do for a while, but I didn’t really like the idea of parking at the old trailhead and crossing the busy Sea to Sky highway. Once I found out there was an alternative route that doesn’t include possible death by speeding cars, I was really keen to try it. This hike involves balancing on log-bridges, a trail with gorgeous mossy trees and finishes at a beautiful viewpoint from the bluffs.
The original version of this hike is listed in the fabulous 105 Hikes book, but we amended it to follow a route from the village of Lions Bay at the Sunset trailhead. This new route seems to be a bit easier (although a little longer) than the old way. It makes it a great option when you just want to hike for a few hours, then head home for a barbecue.
Tunnel Bluffs Map (from Lions Bay)
Tunnel Bluffs – the basics
Distance: 11 km
Elevation gain: 500m
Highest Point: 710m (the viewpoint it lower at 670m)
Time: It took us 3.5 hours, with a nice long break for food
What to bring:
The 10 Essentials. We didn’t need hiking poles for this one.
There is a porta potty at the trailhead
I didn’t see any signs saying no dogs, and all the pups we met along the trail were having a happy, muddy day.
How hard is it? Easy to Intermediate. It will get your heart pumping for the first 20 mins, and you need to cross some creek on logs, but other than that, it’s not a tough hike. That is why it’s so popular.
As I mentioned, in previous years, most people did this hike from Tunnel Point Viewpoint (on the Sea to Sky Highway.) However in 2020, 30 minute parking restrictions were added to that viewpoint. So you *could* try to hike from there, but your car might get towed away! I personally like the idea of starting in Lion’s Bay more; As I don’t want to put my life in danger by rushing across the highway.
However, the parking at Lions Bay is also very limited (and recently became very expensive – $24 per day.) This was already busy before the popular tunnel bluffs trail was added to it. You need to park here to climb up to the Lions, Mount Brunswick, Mount Harvey and Hat Mountain. We arrived at 9am, and snagged the very last parking spot. So I imagine later in the summer you’d have to be up at the crack of dawn to park here!
Tunnel Bluffs – Getting started
The parking is the toughest part of this hike! Once you have found a spot (woot!) following the trail is very easy. The first section is the steepest part as you walk up what seems to be a pretty wide, well maintained logging road. After that, the trail flattens out a bit and it’s a relaxing walk.
The only thing you may not like about this trail is some of the creek crossings. A trail-building superstar has built some fantastic log bridges so you won’t have to get your feet wet. But if you are afraid of heights or don’t feel stable walking along a log with just a flimsy rope to hold on to, this might be a bit scary!
I have to admit, I really loved these bridges!
There are some cool places along the trail where you can see rock slides, as well plenty of mud and pretty flowers. There are a few spots with viewpoints out to Howe Sound, but mostly you’ll be in the shade of the rainforest.
After hiking along at the same elevation for most of the way, the path joins up with the original Tunnel Bluffs trail.
Tunnel Bluffs Views
Once you’re getting close to the bluffs, there are some gaps in the trees. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the see the peaks of the North Shore Mountains Britania range! They were all shy and hiding behind clouds when visited.
But in the opposite direction, out towards Howe Sound and the Sunshine coast, we were treated to blue skies.
This is the view down to the Sea to Sky Highway. It’s a steep drop down from Tunnel Bluffs, but looks sooo pretty!
This is the perfect spot to eat some lunch!
This is a pretty busy hike, but once we made it to the viewpoint, there was plenty of space for people to spread out so everyone could enjoy the views.
We were a little tired from our recent camping trip, so it was really nice to just have a lazy day and do a short hike, rather than waking up super early to do something epic. Hiking to Tunnel Bluffs was perfect for this; As we still had half a day to drink some cider and have a bbq.
If you’d like to find other hikes in this area, please take a peek at the map on my Oh Canada page. Or, click on the pins below to save them.