Paddling the Trans Canada Trail (The Great Trail): Salish Sea Marine Trail, 250 km

Map Legend & Disclaimer

Note that you can click on each object on the map to obtain details about it.

Trans Canada Trail Legend:

Trans Canada Trail Pavilion
Multi-Use Route (Cycling & Walking)
Hiking Only Route (No Cycling)
Equestrian Route (May Allow Cyclists/Walkers)
Paddling/Water Route
Temporary Bypass or Unofficial TCT Route
Trans Canada Trail Closed
Obstacle or Warning (click it for details)

Alternate Route Legend:

Alternate Route for Cyclists & Walkers
Alternate Route for Hiking
Alternate Route for Equestrians
Connection Point to the Trans Canada Trail

Google Maps Legend:

Map menu to access highlights, campsites, grocery stores, parking areas, toilets and more!
Click the grey star at the top of the map to favourite it in Google Maps, so you can pull it up later in your Google Maps app's "My Places".

Disclaimer: This trail information is subject to changes. While reasonable effort has been made to ensure that the information on this site is correct, Trails BC makes no warranty about the accuracy of this information and accepts no liability for any inconvenience or any direct or consequential loss arising from reliance upon this information. Be sure to check our Latest Trail Closures before heading out and read our full disclaimer!.

Please contact Trails BC if you require in-depth trail knowledge or have suggestions or corrections. Support us by becoming a member or donating funds!

GPS Downloads

  • KML/KMZ files can be opened in Google Earth, and many smartphone apps.
  • GPX files can be opened by most GPS software apps when KMZ cannot. Note, GPX files do not contain custom colours and icons that we use on our maps; all tracks and icons will appear the same colour and styles. We recommend using KMZ instead of GPX if possible.

The files below include data for only this specific area. For all of our Trans Canada Trail data for the entire province (including features, campsites and alternate routes), download our BC.kmz master file (1.2 MB)

Visit our GPS & Navigation page for instructions of how to use your smartphone as a GPS device (even when outside of data coverage) or how to import data to your Garmin unit.

About the Route: 

A kayaking route connecting Vancouver Island to the mainland has been designated as Trans Canada Trail - running between Victoria and Horseshoe Bay for over 250 km.

Much of the journey is for intermediate to advanced kayakers, and the long passages in opea sea between Lantzville and Thormanby Island should only be attempted by advanced kayakers in the early hours of the day before the afternoon winds pick up.

The exact "starting point" in Victoria could be debated; we have marked the starting point at Clover Point, which is the Trans Canada Trail's Pacific Trailhead, and also makes an ideal launch point due to ramps being located on both east and west sides of the Point. Starting at Clover Point also means avoiding the heavy marine traffic of Victoria's Inner Harbour. Starting at Clover Point is an easy place to unload boats and gear, and overnight parking can be found on nearby residential streets (but not at Clover Point itself).

On the other hand, for those that wish to begin the journey from Victoria's Inner Harbour, the logistics of doing so can be a challenge. Finding an unloading and launching spot is next to impossible, and there is no free overnight parking in the downtown core. For those insisting on starting their trip downtown, be sure to download and study the Port of Victoria Traffic Scheme attached at the bottom of this page under "Directions"; this will help you prevent straying into the path of ferries, cruise ships and float planes (yes, they do land in the harbour and can quite literally appear out of nowhere). Harbour Patrol is eager to swoop in and give a stern warning to scofflaws who ignore the rules of the road.

A possible itinerary for the entire journey from Victoria to Horseshoe Bay is listed below. We've attempted to keep daily paddling distances averaging about 25 km or less - although some are nearer 30 km. Of course, many paddlers may only do smaller sections of this route as the entire distance could take up to 10 days or more. A big note of caution: No official campsite with water access exists in the Sechelt area, so for paddlers planning on travelling the whole distance, this is something to think about. See our "About the Gaps" section below. 

If you only have 5 days or so, consider paddling from Victoria to Nanaimo via the Gulf Islands - it's a distance of about 120 km, averaging about 24 km per day, and avoids the long open water crossings that one would experience crossing the sea between Vancouver Island and the mainland. Or for a 4-5 day adventure, consider Victoria to the remote waters of Cabbage Island, then return from Saturna Island via BC Ferries - a voyage of 3 ferry trips!

  • Day 1: Clover Point to Darcy Island (25 km)
  • Day 2: Darcy to Rum to Portland (23 km) or Ruckle (+4 km)
    • Alternative: Darcy to Sidney to Portland (24 km) - a bit more sheltered on windier days.
    • Alternate Spur: Darcy to South Pender, Saturna and Cabbage Island (+2 days, 39 km one-way)
  • Day 3: Ruckle to James Bay to Pirates (30 km)
    • Alternate: Portland to James Bay to Montague Harbour (22 km), camp, then Montague to Chivers (15 km)
  • Day 4: Pirates to Decanso (17 km)
    • Alternative: Pirates to Nanaimo, finish journey here (26 km, total distance 108 km)
  • Day 5: Decanso to South Ballenas (30 km)
  • Day 6: South Ballenas to Home Bay (20 km)
  • Day 7: Home Bay to Buccaneer Bay (17 km)
  • Day 8: Buccaneer Bay to Sechelt (24.5 km - Warning! No campsite developed!)
  • Day 9: Sechelt to Plumper Cove (21.5 km)
  • Day 10: Plumper Cove to Horseshoe Bay via North Bowen (20 km)

Total distance from Victoria to Horseshoe Bay: 233 km (or more)

Our mapping lists the many legs of the journey with recommended campsites at each end. Quite a few more campsites exist in the area. We have spaced possible rest stops about 5-8 km apart on the map, marked with stars.

Anyone planning on travelling along the eastern coast of Vancouver Island should educate themselves on currents and tides; strong currents, eddies and rips can be encountered in the Salish Sea, but are particularly noticeable around the Gulf Islands.

About the Gaps: 

One long gap with no official campsites lies between Thormanby Island (campsites Buccaneer Bay or Farm Bay) and Keats Island (Plumper Cove) in Howe Sound. This is a distance of over 45 kilometres, which is an unrealistic distance to cover in a single day. Sechelt is located at the halfway mark - and its urban environment makes camping very difficult without trespassing.

In Sechelt, there may be B&Bs available in the area, and a provincial park campsite is located about 1400 metres from the water, but for now, no real easy camping solution has been established.

BC Marine Trails is hopeful a water-access campsite will be developed at some point in the future.

Trail Operator: 

No operator exists for paddling routes. However, campsite operators exist for campsites along the way. This depends on the campsite, as some are located in Provincial Parks, The Gulf Islands National Park, municipal campsites as well as provincial crown land.

Trail Stewards and Volunteers: 

BC Marine Trails has played a role in the development and stewardship of the marine routes within the Salish Sea. They are an excellent resource and happy to answer questions related to the campsites, launch sites and rest stops along the route. They also host an excellent paddling-specific digital map for the area.

Report a Trail Closure


Trail maintenance issues are the responsibility of the Trail Steward, which is either the trail owner or a group given authorization to perform maintenance work. Trails BC is a trail steward for a very limited number of trail segments on the Trans Canada Trail; unfortunately, if a major trail issue occurs along the Trans Canada Trail, there is often very little we can do about it - but we can try to pass on the information to the trail steward, if one exists.

Information such as a precise location (GPS waypoint), photo, as well as your contact information is extremely helpful to ensure the problem is accurately reported.

AGAIN, DO NOT USE THIS FORM TO SUBMIT NOTICES ABOUT TRAILS THAT ARE NOT PART OF THE TRANS CANADA TRAIL. We will simply delete the submission and it will not be posted or passed on to anyone. If you need to report a closure on such a trail, please determine the trail owner or operator and send a notice to them.

Would it be unwise to continue through the closure or blockage? You may add more detail in your report.
Please enter your trail closure report. Include a GPS location or a detailed description of its precise location.
JPG format only, 3 MB max. You must click "upload" after selecting file.
If the blockage/closure can be bypassed, please include your recommended route to do so!