Vancouver’s Next Super Highway? Salish Sea Marine Trail


Photo: Rob Weiss

Tired of ferry line-ups and traffic jams?  The B.C. Marine Trails Network Association (BCMTNA) has the solution!  Imagine a magnificent, 257-kilometre saltwater route connecting Vancouver’s lower mainland to Victoria.  Granted, you will need to rethink the amount of luggage you are toting as you will require a canoe, kayak or small “beachable” boat to travel along the Salish Sea Marine Trail.  This spectacular route, designed specifically for paddlers, will add an impressive water leg to the Great Trail, previously known as the Trans Canada Trail.  If all goes according to plan the trail will be complete in time for Canada’s 150 birthday celebration in July 2017.  Now that’s a birthday gift!


Photo: Rob Weiss

Arguably, Vancouver and area boast some of the best paddles in the world and with the help of the BCMTNA it is going to get better!  The Salish Sea Marine Trail promises to enhance opportunities for paddlers of all abilities to explore more of our majestic coastline.  Detailed maps and route information will offer paddlers numerous opportunities for both day trips and longer adventures exploring our coastal waters.


Photo: Rob Weiss

Spearheading the Salish Sea Marine Trail development is the BC Marine Trails Network Association, an affiliation of British Columbia’s paddlers.  Created in 2009, the goal of the association is to develop a variety of marine trails along the coast.  Working with Government, First Nations, numerous stakeholders, sponsors and countless volunteers, the association is striving to create a network of launch sites and campsites for those energetic human powered ocean travellers who are interested in exploring the Salish Sea.  Paddlers around the world, myself included, are excitedly embracing the thought of this human powered mainland – island connection.


Photo: Rob Weiss

Personally, as an avid paddler, I can vouch for the time and energy devoted to researching accessible launch sites, campsites, and route maps.  Voila, like an answer to my prayers I discovered the BCMTNA and a wealth of paddling resources.  Interested in learning more about the BC Marine Trails Network Association?  From trail development to educational outreach and stewardship, the BCMTNA has become the voice for West Coast paddlers. Take a few minutes to visit their website and begin planning your next adventure.  The Salish Sea awaits.

Map courtesy BC Marine Trails Network Association

The Salish Sea Marine Trail – Getting There:

The Salish Sea Marine Trail will connect Victoria, the Saanich Peninsula, the Gulf Islands, Lasqueti and Texada Islands, Sunshine Coast, Howe Sound and Horseshoe Bay.

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7 Responses to Vancouver’s Next Super Highway? Salish Sea Marine Trail

  1. Lee Harris

    The Marine Trail sounds like a great idea for tourism and for people who like to spend time on the water – we have such a beautiful coast line. I hope lots of people will come to enjoy it.
    Thanks to Rob & Jane for the great job you do with info and pictures.

  2. Sam P

    I think it was actually started in 1994, not 2009 as the BC Marine Trail Association by Peter McGee with the help of volunteers and Ecomarine on Granville Island. Much of the groundwork and many of the sites were selected and their use negotiated by them. The even installed solar compost outhouses at several sites in the Gulf Islands.

    The BC Marine Trails Network Association carried-on the good work that the BCMTA had started.

    • Sam, yes, the earlier effort started the ball and one site was created at Blackberry Point on Valdes Island, and they did create a composting toilet there, with Peter McGee doing some initial groundwork to locate sites in other parts of the coast. Then that effort died out and was reinvigorated in 2008 by BC’s paddling clubs that formed the new organization, which has inventoried about 3,000 sites now. The next step is creating the actual marine trails and converting prime sites into designated recreation sites along the trail routes. Unfortunately due to a change in status the only original BCMTA site created can’t be included on the Salish Sea Marine Trail as the owners won’t renew the agreement. Very unfortunate!

  3. Next stop will be encouraging/cajoling the cities and towns along this route into doing something about their liquid waste,” aka sewer outflows. With Washington State moving to tertiary sewer treatment (= safe to drink, although you wouldn’t) BC’s horrible and archaic primary treatment ponds and surface skimmers cry for an upgrade to something even remotely responsible, and simply not hideous. As we know, some of our communities lack even primary sewage treatment. All in good time, they say, and that good time will be when more kayakers ply our Salish Sea waters, and we generate the voters and votes for needed change.

  4. Andrew Legun

    This marine trail is suited for power boaters and sailors and much less so for kayakers in my opinion. The distances, segments on exposed coast and strait all indicate that to me. Sometimes geography does not swing your way. The geography that works for the average kayaker is in the north (Discoveries) or south (Gulf). Its dicey in the middle.

    • Pennie

      Yes, I agree. As a kayaker I would not advertise the route across the sound as easy, and open to all abilities. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. Only experienced boaters, kayakers, etc should even attempt this route. That being said, it sounds wonderful for those with at least some experience in rough waters.

      • John

        Definitely not the easiest route for sure. But it’s a bit like creating a hiking route that is level for a distance then crosses a difficult ridge. Not everyone will hike the ridge, but that’s no reason not to create the trail, and everyone can enjoy it to their limits.