Mount Maxwell Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island, provides visitors with the opportunity to stand on top of Baynes Peak and enjoy the best views available anywhere on the Gulf Islands.
From the 588-metre summit of Baynes Peak, spread out before you to the south is one of the very few open fields on the Gulf Islands, stretching all the way to Fulford Harbour. That’s only the beginning of the magnificent views.
The farther you look, the more you see, as your eyes search out landmarks that distinguish this part of the Pacific Northwest: Mount Baker, the plains of western Washington, the San Juan Islands, and the snow-gripped Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains.
Just as obvious are the broad waters of Haro Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the vast shipping lanes through which supertankers journey between the refineries in Whatcom and Skagit Counties, and through which the Alaskan oilfields and freighters carry wheat, lumber, sulfur and automobiles between the docks in Vancouver and Asian markets. Find a sheltered ledge and lean back to drink in all of this.
Mount Maxwell’s Baynes Peak is crowned by a forest of mature grand fir and Garry oak. A provincial ecological reserve has been created here to protect the enclave and provide biologists an opportunity to study this vibrant ecosystem. The park is adjacent to the Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve.
Mount Maxwell Provincial Park offers a number of walking/hiking opportunities with spectacular views. Approximately 6 kilometres of maintained trails all start at the parking lot and range from easy strolls to more demanding hikes. Trails to the north and east travel through wooded areas of old-growth and second-growth Douglas fir. The trail to the west follows along the ridge of Mount Maxwell and links up with the park entrance road approximately 2 km from the parking lot.
Excellent views can be had from various points along the trails, particularly at Baynes Peak, Salt Spring Island’s highest point. From here visitors can get a panoramic look at Vancouver Island, the surrounding Gulf Islands and the mainland of British Columbia.
This park has a day-use/picnic area at the summit of Mount Maxwell. Facilities include a parking lot, pit toilet, picnic tables and a viewing area with spectacular vistas of Burgoyne Bay and Samsun Narrows. The gravel road to Mount Maxwell Park is steep, narrow and bumpy. Drive slowly and use caution when traveling this route.
Mount Maxwell Provincial Park is located on Salt Spring Island in the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia. From Ganges, head south on the Fulford Ganges Road to Cranberry Road. Turn left at the junction with Mount Maxwell Road and continue slowly on the rough road to the park. Drive slowly, as the road is rough but passable.
BC Ferries run several services throughout the year to Salt Spring Island from Vancouver (Tsawwassen), Victoria (Swartz Bay) and Crofton on Vancouver Island.