Big trees, cushions of bright green moss, the solitude and a fantastic view at the end – the Tunnel Bluffs trail is grossly underrated, my dear friends. Why is this hike not even listed in the bible of local hiking, the “103 Hikes” guidebook? So lets’ just dive in: there is a number of good route descriptions to follow, however, and read this carefully, I found some of the instructions confusing so here are my own notes and addendums:
UPDATE March 2021: As of last year you are no longer allowed to park at the the pullout as they will tow the cars parked all day. The nearest allowable parking area is about 2 km further north so you will need to hike that distance to the TH at the start and end of your day.
Finding the parking lot, which is on the west side of the highway 99 and therefore not easily accessible if driving from Vancouver, is a little tricky. Drive past the village of Lion’s Bay (heading towards Squamish), note the creeks that the highways is crossing. One of the first ones after Lion’s Bay is “M” creek. Shortly after the “M” creek look across the highway – you’ll see a rest area with a small gazebo with a roof in the shape of a Haida hat. This is where you want to park. However, you cannot just swerve and turn around right here because of the highway divider. Continue driving further north, crossing Loggers Creek and Deeks Creek. A safe and legal U-turn route is past Deeks Creek. Turn here and drive back to the rest area with the Haida hat.
Another excitement is crossing the highway. Yep, there are 2 lanes of fast driving cars between you and the trail head. But no worries, give it enough time for a large gap between the cars to appear and the crossing doesn’t have to be laden with adrenalin.
Once across the highway look for a large yellow diamond shaped marker and enter the forest here. This is where we made a mistake – a few feet away from this trail head proper is a piece of pink and white flagging and we started following that. After 20 minutes of some seriously rough forest path we realized we must be off route and had to backtrack.
Interesting add-ons: for the fit and burly ones there is a worthwhile addition to the trip where, after checking out the bluffs, you can backtrack a little on the same trail but continue up and connect with a trail to Hat Mountain (there is a marker and a little schematic map so that you’ll know where to turn off once you’re there) for a total of 1,600 m of knee-busting elevation gain in one day. Clubtread.com, a local hiking forum community used to have a good description on how to get to Hat Mountain from Tunnel Bluffs.
Another interesting thing about the Hat Pass extension of the Tunnel Bluffs outing is that apparently there is a hut somewhere in there maintained by a dedicated individual. There used to be a wordpress site with updates on the cabin (https://hathilton.wordpress.com/about/) but is no longer active. Maybe the cabin still exists but is in a secret spot??