Sargeant Bay Provincial Park is located 8 km northwest of the town of Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada. Established in 1990, Sargeant Bay Provincial Park offers a remarkable diversity of recreational activities, combining nature appreciation with an unforgettable physical outdoor experience.
Outdoor activities range from beach combing, marine life observation, bird watching and hiking, to fishing, scuba-diving, paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and picnicking.
When it first opened in 1990, the park was 57 ha. in size, and expanded to approximately 142 ha in 1997. Sargeant Bay Provincial Park includes a sand and gravel beach, a wetland, a salmon-bearing creek, forest, a pristine forest bog and kilometres of multi-use connecting trails.
The park is open daily from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm.
History of the Wetland
When Sargeant Bay Provincial Park was established in 1990, the wetland between the bay and Redrooffs Road was in poor condition. In 1978 the previous owner had dredged a channel through the beach berm and into the wetland to create a marina. This allowed the tides to enter the area freely, causing logging debris to enter and soil to erode. During low tides the water-saturated soil compacted.
In consultation with BC Parks, the Ministry of Environment and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Sargeant Bay Society developed a plan to rehabilitate the wetland. The plans were approved in 1991 and carried out the same year. Financial support was provided by the Environmental Partners Fund and the Habitat Conservation Fund.
The Fish Ladder
The channel was filled in and a fish ladder was installed where Colvin Creek used to discharge into the bay before the dredging.
Because the compacted soil in half of the wetland could not be returned to its previous spongy state, Colvin Lake (a little lake with an island) was created as a refuge for birds and wildlife.
The creek was dredged out where it had silted up to provide access for salmon to the gravel beds below Redrooffs Road.
Impact of the Beavers
The same year the rehabilitation project was completed, Chum and Coho came to spawn in Colvin Creek. Also that same year beavers, that had settled in the wetland in 1998, decided that the lake we made was not a sufficient home for them. They started to build a dam in front of the fish ladder as well as in several other locations along the creek. During the next few years volunteers removed the dams during the spawning season. This became too onerous and was discontinued. Only the dam in front of the fish ladder was removed during the spawning season. After that, Chum no longer spawned in the creek, although some Chum fry has been caught in the lake, upstream of the fish ladder.
The beavers kept expanding their system of dams as shown on the diagram below and built seven lodges. We don’t know how many of these are occupied. The biggest lodge can be seen from the beach berm at the location of the bench.
Eventually, removing the entire dam in front of the fish ladder, also became too much of a chore and only a channel, wide enough to let the salmon pass through, was dredged out. The dam has now become a permanent fixture. It raised the level of the lake by 42cm, as can be seen in the above diagram.
Colvin Creek Trail
This low elevation trail provides an easy walk through a very scenic stretch of mixed forest on the north side of Colvin Creek. The trail features a waterfall that can be quite impressive in winter. The falls are an absolute barrier to salmon, which spawn in the gravel beds below Redrooffs Road, even if they were able to negotiate the culvert. But small Cutthroat Trout are present in the creek above the falls. One just wonders how they got there.
Large big-leaf maples, covered with mosses and ferns up to the highest branches qualify the forest as real rainforest. There are many “wildlife trees”, trees that are dead and decaying, but are actually alive with fungi and bugs. Such trees provide food and shelter for all kinds of cavity-nesting birds, such as wrens, woodpeckers and owls, and also bats. It is not unusual to see bears along the trail.
The trail was flagged out by the Sargeant Bay Society. It was built during the first three months of 1994 by a crew employed under the Unemployment Insurance Job Creation Program of Employment Canada. It took 45 personweeks to complete. It opened up a stretch of forest that, until then, was virtually inaccessible to the general public. A dense thicket of Himalayan Blackberries was the first obstacle to overcome and a bridge had to be built to reach the other side of the creek.
This is a “hiking only” trail which was built “from scratch”, i.e. not on an old logging road, and its surface is susceptible to damage. Therefore, we encourage mountain bikers to use the parallel trail (ride up “Roller Coaster”, then follow “Little Knives”) that leaves from the same trail head and leads to Trout Lake.
Triangle Lake Trail
The Triangle Lake trail is a popular hike in Halfmoon Bay. It’s entrance is located across Redrooffs Road from the Sargeant Bay Provincial Park entrance. Along with the Colvin Creek Trail, this trail is one of the few “hiking only” trails on the Sunshine Coast. So no bikes, no vehicles of any kind and no horses.
The trail is a beautiful hike through the forest, passing over small streams as it weaves through the rainforest. It is a gradual ascent to the viewpoint at Triangle Lake and has an elevation gain of about 180 metres (590 feet). The length of the circle trail is approximately 1.7 km.