Some days are perfect for hiking the Stawamus Chief. But you don’t always want to (get someone else to) drive that far.
For such times, the Tunnel Point Trail, north of Lions Bay, is just the ticket. It offers stats similar to a hike of the Chief’s Third Peak and a spectacular lookout as the reward.
The trailhead lies about three kilometres up the Sea to Sky Highway from Lions Bay. Coming from Vancouver, this involves spotting the viewpoint on the west side of Highway 99, continuing north to the next turnaround, and driving back down the highway to the pullout with its parking spaces. (If you hit Porteau Cove Provincial Park, you’ve gone too far north.)
You’ll find the trailhead, with its sign and map, across the highway, just north of the pullout. The highway crossing is perhaps the most dangerous part of the hike, especially on the return.
The trail heads steeply up into the forest, with several viewpoints facing either Howe Sound or Mount Harvey offering ample opportunity for breaks. Eventually, you emerge on a pleasant old logging road, and the grade eases.
At the first junction, you head left on the trail for Hat Mountain. (Right takes you to Lions Bay and trails for Brunswick Mountain and the Lions.) Then it’s left again on the trail to Tunnel Bluff Lookout.
Soon you’ll come to a “Lookout” sign directing you left yet again. It points the way to Tunnel Bluff Lookout, your destination and an impressive perch with sweeping views of Bowen, Gambier, and Anvil islands.
Back at the “Lookout” sign, if you go straight you’ll follow a rough trail to Loggers Creek Lookout. It bears more resemblance to viewpoints lower down than Tunnel Bluff Lookout, but it’s still a worthy extension to your trip on, say, a second visit to the area.
According to the ClubTread wiki, the hike to Tunnel Bluff Lookout involves a round-trip distance of 12 kilometres and an elevation gain of 626 metres. The high point is 691 metres.
Although the estimated time is four hours, my last trip took 6.5 hours, including a visit to Loggers Creek Lookout. It’s difficult not to enjoy a long lunch at Tunnel Bluff Lookout and linger at the lowest viewpoint on the way down.