Bushwhack over Collins Mountain – Bowen Island

Since I live near the bottom of Collins Mountain on Bowen Island, I’ve wondered what it is like up on that hill. There are no trails, so if we wanted to see it, we’d have to bushwhack. Actually, although the name bushwhack sounds violent, the streams flowing off the hill supply water to the residents below, so we knew we would have to tread lightly and leave little or no trace of our passing. It turned out to be a very pleasant low-level hike for a hot sunny day. Most of the time we were in deep forest.

Should you decide to follow us, I strongly recommend that you have topo map, GPS, a cell phone, and excellent backcountry route-finding skills. Although civilization seems nearby, this is rugged terrain, and there are no paths, roads or easy access. A rescue would be very awkward. To plan for this, I spent time with topo maps and created a route that I could upload to my GPS unit. GPS Route Collins is my planned route in the GPX format. You are welcome click on that link and to use it. GPS receivers do not work very well under a forest canopy. I find that the microwave signals are received a bit better when the foliage on the trees is very dry. My old etrex GPS unit complained lots about weak signals, but it gave just enough information to keep us fairly close to the track.

The real narrative of our day is contained in a Google Earth Tour. If your computer doesn’t have it, click on Google Earth to go to the download page for Linux, Macintosh, or Windows. Install the software. The GPX file (above) can be opened in Google Earth, and you’ll quickly see our planned route. Next, click on Collins Mountain Tour to download a 5 MB file that contains my narration and controls Google Earth like a movie to show you exactly where we went. The file takes 11 minutes to play. Open the file in Google Earth, and, in the sidebar, turn the triangles in Temporary Places until you find the Collins Bushwhack GE Tour. Click on that, and sit back to watch the show. Please make the display window of Google Earth as large as your monitor will allow. Also, this is new software, and I was limited to recording 2 minute audio tracks that I could not edit. So there are a few places with about 10 seconds of silence. Please be patient.

Click this in Google Earth to start the tour

Click this in Google Earth to start the tour

Sunlight in the dark forest

Sunlight in the dark forest

Cypress Bowl from the Summit of Collins Mt.

Cypress Bowl from the Summit of Collins Mt.

Open forest leading down from the summit

Open forest leading down from the summit

Honeymoon Lake

Honeymoon Lake


8 Responses to “Bushwhack over Collins Mountain – Bowen Island”

  1. 1 Guy April 3, 2010 at 5:19 pm


    Thanks for the description! We hiked Mt. Collins today – based on your description, we decided to approach from the NW, via honeymoon lake. We easily found the road up to honeymoon lake (marked with a “no trespassing” sign 🙂 ), then up the road, past the “no public access” sign for the watershed) and up to the lake. Followed the lake around the south side, then pretty much followed our noses (and the GPS) up the path of least resistance through the open forest up to the summit(s) of Mt. Collins. We returned the same way – took 2 1/2 hours round trip.

    We then went on to hike up/down Mt. Gardner – so a full day.

    Thanks again for the description!


  2. 2 Robert April 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Hi Guy, thanks for the trip report. I think you picked the best weather this holiday weekend to ramble on the hills.

  3. 3 Chris Corrigan April 10, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    This is a great thing Robert. Finn and I bushwacked up from our house last weekend and made it as far as Wes’ property. We reached a kind of flat place above his house, around where you mark “top of ridge”. I was surprised how flat it was there, with a view down to Eaglecliff through the trees.

    Heavy going to get up there through salal and bluffs but made for a great adventure especially for a nine year old boy with a sense of daring about him, scrambling on cliffs and up a small waterfall even!

    I’m getting familiar with the land back there, so might give your route a go, by the seat of my pants later this spring.


  4. 4 Robert April 11, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I think it is wonderful to have some wilderness, that feels so remote when we are up there, so close to where we live.

    BTW, did you see that its possible to put a whole Google Earth Tour in a web site (so the viewer does not have to acquire Google Earth)? I stashed that same tour here: http://ballantyne.com/earth/collins.html

    Where is Wes’ property?

  5. 5 Chris Corrigan April 19, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Wes’s property is the big open space above the east side of Kilarney Lake…right here.

  6. 6 Ean Jackson May 19, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Hi Robert,

    Many thanks for the clues. For some insane reason, Mt. Collins was included in the 2010 North Shore Bagger Challenge (www.baggerchallenge.com if you’re interested in getting to the top of some other local peaks this summer). As a “peak” I was not familiar with, it became the first I attempted in this years’ competition.

    To help others who might follow, I referred to your post and shared some other notes and photos at:

    Any thoughts on why that netting is there at the “summit”?

    “Action” Jackson in North Van

  7. 7 Robert May 19, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Hi Ean, I’ve never seen the netting. BTW, my route is really the hard way to reach the summit. This story is really meant to be a wilderness traverse, and it is not about the summit. Many years ago I walked up a dirt track from the paved road around the north end of the island. Reaching the summit was so easy that it could hardly be described as ‘bagging’ anything.

    BTW, people seem to find this article… be sure to check out the same story of the traverse contained in a web page at https://howesound.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/collins-hike-tour-now-in-web-page/

    If you don’t have Google Earth, that web page contains all of Google Earth.

  8. 8 Julie December 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Think the RoW pin may be in the wrong place. It should be on Eagles Nest Road (W) for the “road” up to the water tank rather than at the driveway two houses down.

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