Burt’s Bluff

June 11, 2022


Gambier Island, BC

“Burt’s Bluff” is the lowest of the 4 or 5 named summits on Gambier Island but in my opinion the most interesting one. The name “Burt’s Bluff” refers to the viewpoint on the south side of the south summit but that’s not the highest point. The true summit is about 50 m taller but is entirely forested with no view. The true summit still shares the same name as the lookout. After completing the peaks on Gambier Island I would say the lookout on Burt’s Bluff actually offers the finest views so this is actually a must-do peak for hikers based in Vancouver. The access of this peak is trickier as it’s located on the more remote east side of the island and to get to this side one needs to take a private water taxi from Horseshoe Bay. Earlier in the day Ni, Preeti, Caitlin and myself took a taxi to Camp Fircom and then traversed over Mt. Artaban. The plan was to then traverse over “Burt’s Bluff” and plod all the way to New Brighton.

Mt. Artaban and Burt’s Bluff and a traverse of Gambier. GPX DL

I led the group taking a short-cut beside someone’s house right at the start as the official trail was doing some weird roundabout route, probably to avoid trespassing that private property. I, on the other hand, always aim for the most efficient path. We then picked up the trail and plodded to the saddle between the true and the south summits. This section was quite a grunt. Two of us ditched the backpacks at the saddle and then proceeded to the true summit, which as advertised offered no view. We then backtracked and plodded to the south summit viewpoint. The views were exceeding my expectation so we lingered there for at least another half an hour.

The group starting the short-cut at the start of the ascent
Preeti ducking underneath an enormous log while I hopped over
Caitlin and Ni after crawling over another log
Preeti and Caitlin leading the way for a while
The ascent of the east side of Burt’s Bluff was quite steep at places
Already ditched the packs for the true summit dash
Preeti and Caitlin on the viewless true summit of Burt’s Bluff
Descending from the true summit
Caitlin posing on the south peak lookout
Me celebrating with the whiskey…
Our group shot on the Burt’s Bluff south summit lookout
Caitlin and Preeti doing their Instagram pose!
Another photo of Caitlin and Preeti on Burt’s Bluff lookout

We soon realized that we weren’t doing good on time. The original plan was to catch the 4:30 pm or the 5:30 pm ferry from New Brighton to Langdale but now it seemed like we might not even catch the last, 6:30 pm ride. The last ride needed to be reserved on phone so Ni did a quick phone call. The reception was quite weak but at least they got our message. Ni asked if it’s possible to pick us up later than 6:30 pm but the reply was no, so we must hurry up. Descending the west side of “Burt’s Bluff” was not as obvious as I thought. The trail was decently marked by flagging but the foot bed was not obvious at all. It’s rather just a route than a “trail” in my opinion. The trail condition improved near Lost Lake and then we faced a stretch of undulating terrain. We then took an experimental short-cut towards “West Bay to Lake” connector to avoid going all the way to Gambier Lake. The bushwhacking was not bad at all, but there were fair amount of micro-terrain to content with including a few mossy bluffs. Needless to say our progress wasn’t very efficient, but likely sufficient enough to catch the 6:30 pm ride.

About to leave this pretty place
The trail on the west side of Burt’s Bluff was definitely less travelled
We basically just linked up flags to stay on route
This was during that experimental short-cut to save distance

There was another 100 m or so elevation gain to plod back onto that aforementioned connector trail, which was rather just a deactivated road. We followed this road/trail down to West Bay and then picked up the logging road contouring the west side of the bay. This stretch of logging road had another 100 m gain and loss which was rather frustrating. And then we had another 60 m elevation gain and loss to plod to New Brighton. We eventually made there at 6:10 pm with 20 minutes of spare. The boat did come to pick us up in time but then we had to wait for 1 hour at Langdale for the ride back to Horseshoe Bay. The BC Ferry from Langdale to Horseshoe Bay is free. For Ni and I the plodding wasn’t over yet as we had another 1 km of uphill walking at the very end to reach of free parking lot in Horseshoe Bay. I eventually got back home at 9:30 pm, happy to have finally bagged all peaks on Gambier Island.

Onto West Bay connector trail which is rather just a road..
The final 50 m descent to the bay was done on a short-cut trail
An abandoned van while plodding towards New Brighton from West Bay
Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island from West Bay
Misty view of Mt. Elphinstone from New Brighton..
Caitlin at New Brighton waiting for our ferry ride
The boat came to pick us up at 6:30 pm…
Mt. Liddell and Mt. Killam from the boat ride to Langdale
A cool rainbow in front of the North Shore Mountains
Back to Horseshoe Bay at sunset time..