Galiano / Valdes Islands - Trip Description
Total trip distance: 38 km
Minimum (day-trip) distance: As little as 7 km from Kuper Island to Dionisio Park, or from Yellow Point to Blackberry Point. See the track log (last image in this gallery) for a detailed chart of the immediate area.
Coordinates (WGS 84):
N49 02.699 W123 45.352 - Put-in, Yellow Point Park
N49 03.259 W123 39.368 - Blackberry Point campsite
N49 02.442 W123 38.348 - Shingle Point beach
N49 00.991 W123 36.379 - Cardale Point beach
N49 00.749 W123 34.497 - Dionisio campsite
- No. 3313 Small-Craft Charts: Gulf Islands (various scales)
Canadian Topographic Maps:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Opposing current and wind direction will create very dangerous wave conditions. Be aware of the strong current flows in the area, and marine weather conditions. For most routes to Dionisio Marine Provincial Park, the crossings of wide expanses of open water is required and should not be attempted by novice paddlers. Paddlers should have a reliable set of current tables (note that currents and tides do not change at the same time!) with you, and don't attempt to paddle through at anything but slack current!
Open to Trincomali Channel to the west, Blackberry Point near the south end of Valdes Island is a somewhat unknown, but welcoming destination for paddlers. Enjoy the sandy beach, explore the smaller islands in the area, or continue south to the north tip of Galiano Island, where you'll find a jewel of a camping destination at Dionisio Point, nestled on the east shore, open to Porlier Pass to the north and the Straight of Georgia to the east.
Blackberry Point has a forestry campsite with minimal amenities, maintained by Weyerhaeuser, the giant US foresty company that is engaged in highly controversial logging practises on the island. There are a few trails in the area to explore, and a wonderful sandy beach that would be a sunbathers paradise on a hot summer day. The shoreline is wide open to Trincomali Channel, so be aware of any incoming weather.
Dionisio Point, on the northeast tip of Galiano Island, has numerous camp sites that are only accessibly by boat or by a hike in from the nearest road on Galiano (which is a long island of about 28km, but serviced at the south end by BC Ferries). To reach Dionisio from the west side, you'll have to consult a reliable current table, as currents in narrow Porlier Pass can reach over 9 knots (about 17km/h) and create dangerously turbulent water. The pass is also a main shipping channel for tugs and barges carrying wood chips to and from Vancouver Island mills, so be aware of traffic, especially at slack current when all the boats try to rush through the pass. Once there, you'll want to paddle to the very farthest bay (home to a glorious sandy beach), and access the information areas, pit tiolets and camp sites up the hill from a path located at the far west (right) end of the bay. Location of camp sites is not at all obvious from the water, so you'll find yourself wandering around a bit if you land at the wrong bay!
There are about 30 camp sites in the park, located in two separate camping areas - one at the tip near Porlier Pass, the other to the east, atop a small bluff facing out to the Straight of Georgia. Water is available (boiling or treatment is highly recommended), and there is a self-registration area common to many camping areas in the Gulf Islands. Fees are $5 per person per night from May to September; camping is free in the 'off season' but no services are provided during the winter months.
There is a series of well-maintained hiking trails in the area, and the powerful currents through the pass make for abundant marine life which visitors will enjoy while exploring along the shoreline.
For more information about Dionisio Marine Park, see the BC Parks and Recreation web site.
For this trip, I put-in at Blue Heron Park at Yellow Point, just northeast of the town of Ladysmith on Vancouver Island. There is very limited space here for overnight parking. Other possible put-in locations on Vancouver Island can likely be found north and south of this area.
Larger groups looking for more considerable parking space may consider launching from Ladysmith Harbour, where ample parking is probably more likely, although this would make for a longer paddle. Anyone with accurate, detailed parking information that they're willing to share is requested to contact me directly and I will add it to this site.
Date: May 20 - 22, 2005
Weather: Intermittent clouds, rain and sunny breaks; windy
Water condition: Rippled seas to 2' wind waves; swells up to 4'
Tides/currents: Dangerously strong currents at times - consult your tables!
Submitted by: Mark Schilling
Images copyright: Mark Schilling