5 Outdoor B.C. Adventures off the Beaten Path

Kayak with orcas, hike amongst glaciers and bike along stunning coastlines right here in B.C.

Throw on a backpack and head to the wilderness for these five inspiring B.C. adventures

Where can you kayak with orcas, hike amongst glaciers and bike along stunning coastline? Canadian travel writer Leigh McAdam answers all these questions and more in her latest book, Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures, which will be released in November. McAdam took time out to give us a preview of some of the amazing experiences in her book. Click through for a look at her five favourite B.C. adventures.

You can preorder Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures on her website

Credit: Leigh McAdam

The Coast Trail in East Sooke Park, Vancouver Island

“Experience the spectacular and rugged west coast of Vancouver Island on the Coast Trail in East Sooke Park, just 45 minutes away from downtown Victoria. This is the cousin to the West Coast Trail further north that can be done as a day hike without the need to schlep a backpack for days.

The hike is a standout from start to finish and a model in contrasts: dramatic and rugged coastal scenery is broken by temperate rainforest filled with massive cedars and fir. Enjoy a visual feast that includes pocket beaches, tide pools with their fascinating life forms, views of Washington’s Olympic Mountains, windswept pines, red-barked arbutus trees and swaths of wildflowers in season.

Do it as a one way hike – but don’t be fooled by its 10-kilometre length. It’s a challenging hike winding through shaded valleys and along narrow cliff-side paths. Notably, there are shorter options in the park for those with less time.”

Credit: Leigh McAdam

A Hike in the Rainbow Mountains, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, Cariboo Chilcotin

“It’s a world-class hike into Tweesdsmuir Park’s remarkable, multi-coloured Rainbow Mountain Range. The hike itself is only moderately difficult but this is true wilderness where you may not see another soul. Free your adventurous spirit and wander into this outstanding mountain setting. Not only are the mountains like nothing you’ve ever seen before, but the area offers take-your-breath-away scenery with its wildflower-filled meadows and numerous deep blue mountain lakes.

The hike can be comfortably done in five hours but you can also extend your stay to several days if you wish. The peacefulness and beauty of this area deserves all the time you can afford to give it.”

Credit: Leigh McAdam

Kayaking Johnstone Strait, Vancouver Island

“Johnstone Strait is home to the largest number of resident orca whales in the world. With a little luck, you’ll kayak in their presence, especially in the summer as they congregate to feed on salmon. It’s an exhilarating experience but not the only reason to visit Johnstone Strait. The area is home to remarkably abundant sea and animal life. It’s quite likely you’ll see bears, seals, sea lions, dolphins and porpoises. On one kayaking trip, I witnessed a pod of dolphins at least a kilometre long.

The Johnstone Strait area still retains a wild feeling to it compared to its busier counterpart, the Discovery Islands, located further south. These productive waters have a long history of human habitation and perhaps you’ll visit or camp on a site that has been visited for millennia. Of course, the rainforest is doing its best to reclaim and hide those sites.”

Note: To get to Johnstone Strait, ferry to Vancouver Island and then drive past Campbell River to Telegraph Cove (a cute little town) and launch from there. Rentals are available right there as well as last-minute groceries.

Credit: Leigh McAdam

Hike the Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park, Kootenays

“The Iceline Trail offers superb views of Takakkaw Falls, the third highest waterfall in Canada. Not only that, you traverse a world filled with glaciers and high mountain peaks. You can hike it in five to eight hours but better yet, turn it into a two or three day backpacking trip so you can explore the mountains of the President Range. It’s a surreal, awe-inspiring world up high, and good for the soul where one feels small next to Mother Nature’s glory.”

Credit: Leigh McAdam

Bike the Southern Gulf Islands: Galliano, Mayne, Pender, Saltspring and Saturna

“Nothing beats ferry-hopping on a bicycle as a way to explore the southern Gulf Islands – best in the summer when the sun is shining. The hardest decisions you will be forced to make will be which of the five main southern Gulf Islands to visit and which ferries to catch. Each island has its own personality and attributes. All the islands boast a mix of pastoral and coastal scenery with ocean views and the drama of the mainland mountains. Roads are generally quiet but be prepared for hills.

As a biking destination, the islands are superb for a day, a week or even longer if you enjoy side trips to wineries, galleries, artists’ studios and farmers’ markets. Throw in some great beaches, freshwater lake swimming and oceanside picnics for a memorable adventure.”