Many people access this park as an all-weather anchorage near Secret Cove, but this park is also accessible by land with a 1.5 km (20 minutes one way) trail from Brooks Rd off Highway 101. Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park offers camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking, and picnicking.
The trail in Smuggler Cove begins in a thick, forested area with lush greenery and spectacular arbutus trees along an easy to follow gravel path. Shortly in, you’ll reach a wooden walkway that takes you over a marsh which can sometimes be a bit submerged during the winter months or after heavy rainfalls. This is a great year-round hike that is very accessible. If you are into birding, don’t forget your binoculars for this trail to see spectacular wildlife and different species.
Another 10 minutes into the hike you arrive at the camping site area with the first glimpse of Smuggler Cove on the right and you can follow the trail straight alongside the cove. This section of trail will continue to the mouth of the cove with several viewpoints looking out into Georgia Straight. Once you reach the mouth of the cove soak in the beauty from your perch on the rocks that overlook the Straight, Thormanby Island, and Texada Island.
For a bit longer hike you can follow the loop as it continues along the shores inside the cove and connects back up to the same trail that leads back towards the campsite. At the campsite, another short trail leads to a small beach area with a different view of a small island that lies just off shore.
With a name like Smuggler, you can only imagine the colourful history on how the cove got its name. In the late 1800’s, a “pirate” by the name of Larry Kelly came to Canada after fighting for the confederates in the American Civil War. When the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed, many unemployed Chinese workers tried to emigrate to the US but were denied entry. Kelly assisted the Chinese to cross the border and used Smugglers Cove as a launching point. Later on in the 1920’s American prohibition alcohol smugglers would hide in the cove on the way down to the United States.
Special Notice from BC Parks
Beavers are residents in Smuggler Cove Marnie Provincial Park and have been hard at work on some home renovations in this park. While you are visiting their home, please be respectful of their wetland habitat. Many other birds, wildlife and plant species will flourish in this expanded wetland environment. Do not disturb the dam site, stay on the trail and keep pets on a leash.
Wilderness, backcountry or walk-in camping is allowed, but no facilities are provided. Camping is permitted year round when accessible and only in the 5 designated sites located in the basin of Smuggler Cove Proper (in the Cove). This is approximately 1 kilometre from the vehicle parking area. The sites are individual and gravel.
Direction to Trailhead
The Provincial Park is signposted from Hwy 101. Heading north on Hwy 101, turn left onto Brooks Road, 1km north of Halfmoon Bay. Follow signs to the end of Brooks Road, 3.5km from the highway. This is where the parking lot and trailhead are located.
If coming to the cove by boat, entry from Welcome Passage is best made at low tide when reef and rock projections are visible. Please watch for drying and projecting reefs as you navigate around the cove. There are many eye bolts located along the shoreline to accommodate stern lines.
The trails of the Sunshine Coast offer a wide array of experiences for travellers of all levels and walks of life. Ranging in length, difficulty, and experience, the trails on the Sunshine Coast are the epitome of the pristine beauty and epic landscapes of British Columbia.