If you were to say that British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast is a hiker’s paradise, you would be right. There is an estimated 844 trails between Gibson’s on the South Coast and Lund on the North Coast. Many of them with access points a stone’s throw from the Sunshine Coast highway. That amounts to approximately 1570 kilometers of hiking and biking paths.
From those, you can choose long trails for backpacking trips that take a week or more. Medium length trails for day treks, or spend an hour or so exploring walking trails in one of the many parks. Case in point, The Hidden Groves.
Sechelt’s Hidden Groves
Location and Directions
A Six-kilometer drive from Sechelt is where you will find the Hidden Groves’ walking trails.
To get there from the Langdale Ferry Terminal:
- Follow the overpass to Sunshine Coast highway 101.
- Take the highway route to Wharf Avenue in Sechelt.
- Turn right at the lights on Wharf Avenue, then right at the four-way-stop onto East Porpoise Bay road.
- Follow East Porpoise Bay road as it turns into Sechelt Inlet road.
Your turn-off is 2.5 km past the Porpoise Bay Campsite on the right-hand side of the road.
Know Before You Go: The Facts
When you arrive, you will note a large kiosk off the parking lot. It is here that you will find park information, including a free map of the trails that you can take along on your walk. It is also here that you will find general rules and a list of the park’s facilities – or lack thereof. Be prepared before you arrive as the park has no litter disposal and no toilets.
The No List :
- No bikes
- No horses
- No motorcycles
- No ATVs
- No campfires
- No camping (including RVs in the parking lot)
You should know that the Hidden Groves is an OFF LEASH area for dog walkers. Be prepared to run into plenty of friendly dogs along the paths.
Note: The poop policy is “flick with a stick.” This is smart as it keeps green disposal bags out of the park. The Hidden Groves is one of the cleanest parks on the Sunshine Coast.
The Hidden Groves spreads across 170 acres and boasts 16 km of color-coded hiking trails. Signs at every intersection make it easy to navigate. All intersection maps have identification numbers should you need to call 911.
Close to the signs, you will find pegs with colored markers. These state which trail you are following. Sechelt’s Hidden Groves has enough trails to meet every ability level. Some of the nicest being wheelchair accessible.
The first trail right off of the kiosk is Monty’s Way. This is a wheelchair-accessible trail consisting of a short loop. Peppered with information about the park’s ecosystems. The course is easy-going, hard-packed, and at least 5ft wide.
The Route I Took
I visit the Hidden Groves quite often and have developed a favorite route.
BLUE Usually, I start with the very educational Monty’s, Way. Along this path, you will learn about The Nurse Log, Logging, Cedar Bark Stripping, and many of the plants and trees that grow in the park.
The Nurse Log
A nurse log forms when a large tree falls and begins to decay. In its death, it provides life-giving nutrients that seedlings will sprout from. The passing of these forest elders thins the canopy. Leaving light to reach the forest floor, encouraging saplings to take root and grow tall.
In the early 1900s, the Hidden Groves was an area undergoing logging. You can see some evidence of this along Monty’s Way in the form of large stumps. While some of the trees here are approximately 100 years old. Most range from 50 to 60 years due to logging practices in the 1950s.
Cedar Bark Stripping
As you explore this trail, you are likely to notice several trees missing long strips of bark. What you are looking at is the traditional practice of Cedar Bark Stripping. The Shishalh Nation (before 2010) harvested the bark from selected trees. The bark was then processed for the weaving of hats and baskets.
LIGHT GREEN From Monty’s Way, I hike up the LIGHT GREEN path to the largest tree in the Hidden Groves. The Lonely Giant, an immense Douglass Fir. It dates back over 500 years to approximately the early 1500s. To give some context on this timeline. The Lonely Giant was likely a seedling or a sapling when Henry VIII beheaded Anne Boleyn.
When you reach the Lonely Giant, take a moment to look Up Up UP in awe of this elder tree. It is a rare leftover example of a first-growth forest.
RED This is the point where I start on the path to my favorite part of the Hidden Groves. The RED trail winds along, leading to a magical stand of moss-coated sentinels in the form of Big Leaf Maples. Among the maples are Douglas Firs and Western Hemlocks. To the side of the paths, you will see ferns that in summer, reach past the shoulders.
This section of the Groves is by far the most atmospheric. If you come early in the morning on an overcast day the light filtering through the mossy overhangs is breathtaking. The silence is spooky.
It also tops my list because it is photographically inspirational. For more on photography in the Hidden Groves watch my YouTube Video. Landscape Photography : Micro Landscapes in the Hidden Grove
DARK GREEN There is a nice trail that cuts across the Ancient Grove. It leads past the Twister and ends at the Leaning Giant.
The Twister is a unique Douglas Fir with a twisting split in its bark. Possibly caused by a lightning strike while the tree was still young. It might be one of the park’s favorites, you can often find offerings placed where the bark splits.
As you leave the Ancient Grove, look up. Try to spot the charred bark on some of the oldest trees, a relic of forest fires past. At the end of this trail stands the Leaning Giant. From here, the landscape changes. From a lush moss-covered fantasy forest to a thinned-out area of windfall and skinny trees.
YELLOW is a fun-to-follow trail with a short series of stone stairs. Gaining elevation takes you up to a point where the path splits. Go right to reach the highest point in the Hidden Groves. Go left to find a bench where you can rest and take in the view over Sechelt and across to Vancouver Island.
ORANGE The Orange trail to pine bluff is a – blink and you will miss it – kind of trail. As you go down past the Arbutus trees, look back and to your left. That is where you will see the small but pretty Pine Bluff.
From here, the trail joins back with the BLUE Monty’s Way. An in-and-back section ending at the parking lot.
This forest has a story to tell, if you care to listen.
It is a story of loss and recovery through ancient fires.
A tale of pre-contact first peoples and their descendant’s stewardship and love of the land.
A history of logging, of elder trees taken to build the communities that began to surround the forest.
A story of salvation as a local noticed logging tapes and started a movement. The origins of what we now know as the Hidden Groves.
A story of plant biodiversity and wildlife corridors.
This story is also a cautionary tale of old-growth trees 500 to 1000 years old. Whispered to the second-growth forest enveloping them. A warning to us of what we have to lose.
As you enjoy the trails, remember to be kind and mind your manners. Stay on the trails, even if they are muddy! Your shoes will clean and dry a lot faster than it will take vulnerable ecosystems to recover.
The Hidden Groves trails are maintained through the volunteer efforts of the Sechelt Groves Society. If you want to help with the continued development and preservation of the Hidden Groves, here are some ways you can make a positive difference.
Volunteer with the Trailbuilders. They meet Wednesday mornings and work for about 2 1/2 hours. If you don’t have the time to pitch in, you can join the Society to support their work. It’s the best $10 you will spend.
For more information, check out their website at