The magic of Mt. Maxwell

Words and photos by Jaime Murdoch

On a day when the island seems cloudy and gray, it might just be the perfect time for a hike up Mt. Maxwell, where you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world with billowing long white clouds and sunshine galore.  It’s well worth taking the chance. If you wake up with an inkling to get outside and see Salt Spring, make the effort to get to the top of the mountain.

Mt. Maxwell makes Salt Spring a Southern Gulf Island Destination all on its own.  With breathtaking views of the Sansum Narrows (the channel between Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island) and Burgoyne Bay, along with treasured old growth Douglas Fir and Garry Oaks, this mountain is worth exploring again and again.  The views change dramatically with the season, time of day and weather.

Baynes peak is one of the island’s highest points (602 meters/1975 ft!) and hiking up can be a vigorous workout or an easy walk in the park, depending on your approach.  A preferred trail head can be found by following Duke’s Road to Seymour Heights.  Turn left and follow Seymour Heights to the junction with Armand Way and park in the cul-de-sac.  The trail head is about a five minute walk from there.  If you like maps and directions, stop by the Visitor Info centre in Ganges and ask for a Parks and Trails guide or follow this link: https://www.crd.bc.ca/parks-recreation-culture/parks-trails/find-park-trail/armand-way.  This is one of a handful of approaches to the top. In total there are 6km of trail!

If you’d prefer to drive, follow the sign on Fulford-Ganges and turn up Cranberry rd. (south of Ganges) and follow it along and continue onto Mt. Maxwell Rd.  Pack some water and snacks, rain gear (just in case) and running shoes and take care, it’s a bumpy gravely ride!  Once you’re at the top there are lots of nice spots for viewing and having a picnic; after all, hiking is for lovers.

Photos from a hike up in January when Ganges was cloudy and overcast.  (Photo credit to Jaime Murdoch)

January view from the top when Ganges was cloudy and overcast.

 

A friendly fence to keep you from falling.  (Photo credit to Jaime Murdoch)
A friendly fence to keep you from falling.

 

The perfect winter pic nic spot. (Photo credit to Jaime Murdoch)
Sun, sea, clouds and trees.
View of the narrows during the summer season. (Photo credit to Jaime Murdoch)
View of the narrows during the summer season.
The perfect winter pic nic spot. (Photo credit to Jaime Murdoch)
The perfect winter picnic spot.
Cliff view in winter. (Photo credit to Jaime Murdoch)
Cliff view in winter.
Tree at the top in February. (Photo credit to Jaime Murdoch)
Tree at the top in February.
Peaks or islands? Views from Baynes peak overlooking Sansum Narrows. (Photo credit to Jaime Murdoch)
Peaks or islands? Views from Baynes peak overlooking Sansum Narrows.
Different day, same season, different scene. (Photo credit to Jaime Murdoch)
Different day, same season, different scene.