August 30, 2012


This is the first of a series of my travels to the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia.  The islands are near Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands in Washington State.

Climbing Mount Galiano, Galiano Island

Going up Mount Galiano took me an hour or so, not so much the height as it is only 300 meters above sea level – about half of Mount Gardner in Bowen Island, nor the grade since the trail can be flat at times, but the path is roundabout and winding.  This means the hike is good for any age.  I even saw a dad carrying his very young baby strapped in front of his chest.
To get to Galiano Island from Vancouver BC (not Vancouver, Washington), take the Canada Line train to River Rock Casino in Richmond, transfer to Bus No. 620 to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta.  Board the ferry bound for Galiano and the other South Gulf Islands.  The earliest on a Sunday morning leaves at 10:50 am (schedule changes now and then).  On board the ferry, you can have a hot breakfast (around $10.00) and pick up maps of Galiano and other islands.

An hour later, I was disembarking and walking along the pier area of Galiano Island.  A few shops, grocery store with an ATM machine and gasoline station, importantly a map kiosk.  There is bakery and an ice cream store.   Further up left at the third corner street was the bike rental shop (Tel: 250-539-9906) .  Lovely lady Pam - the owner. 
Pam - bicycle rental shop owner
A mountain bike will cost you $30 plus HST the whole day. You can return the bike late, actually close to the last ferry return at 9:25 pm.  This ferry will arrive at Tsawwassen at 10:30 pm giving you enough time to catch the last bus, 11 pm bound for the Canada Line train station in Richmond.  If your ferry is late, pray the other boat from Victoria is also late because the bus will normally wait for the last ferry coming from Swartz Bay (32 km/20 miles north of Victoria).
There are several ways to reach Mount Galiano but the most scenic and short route is through hilly Bluff Park, up Burrill Road (where the bike rental shop is).  Bluff Park is actually a forest and Burrill Road turns to an even gravel lane.

The other way is through the asphalted Sturdies Bay Road which I estimate to be double the distance though much flatter than going via Bluff Park. 

However, I realize at the end of the day, one does not need to rent a bike if going through Bluff Park.  It would take you a lovely one hour walk to the base of the trail to Mount Galiano.  That is if you are not stopping along the way.  There is a good view point in Bluff Park where you can see the ferry boats winding their way in and out of the channels and the islands.  You will be impressed with the view but this is just the Opening Act. 

As Burrill Road ends to a T to an asphalted road, turn left and 100 yards later turn right to another gravel road which will lead you after 10 minutes of walking to the base of Mount Galiano where there is a small dirt parking lot.  But I suggest go past the parking lot, and head down to the century–old cemetery which has a quiet meditative viewpoint with benches to look on ships passing along Active Pass.
Now head back to the parking lot where the trail up to Mount Galiano starts. 

Going up the trail does not land you at the very peak but close.  Instead you are at the edge of the mountain (really more like a big hill) with one of the most fabulous vistas in British Columbia.  The blue water with the rest of the Gulf Islands and the American San Juans was breathtaking.  There are millions of great water views around the world and this one is one of the best.  There are soft carpet grass to sit on, munch, and listen to your Ipod.  I thought I would be there for at most an hour, but I stayed for three plus. 

  It was just bodacious!
On the way back, I took the longer Sturdies Bay Road,  There are farm roadside stalls unmanned where you can buy local produce such as cukes (cucumbers) on an honor basis.  There is a locked cash box with a hole.  

The best things in BC are free and this is one of them.

P.S.  Sometimes during the summer the local First Nations band (as the Native Americans are referred to in Canada with "band" meaning a tribe - not a singing group) would have an outdoor sporting event at Burrill Road.  If you spot them, a lady named Chris Head sells lovely cinnamon buns baked by her mom Sylvia.  You can contact Chris to save some for you as the buns sells out quickly.  Tel 250 537 4976  or e-mail her at head


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