Leading Peak – a hiking trail on Anvil Island in Howe Sound, British Columbia
Closest City: Anvil Island
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Camping Allowed: Yes
4 X 4 Needed: No
Class: Full Day
Round Trip Trail Distance in KM: 13
Hiking Time in HR: 6-8
Average Grade %: 17
Elevation Gain in M: 1,050
Highest Point in M: 750
Map and Elevation Profile
Click the bars icon on the right to see details and to download gpx track
Leading Peak on Anvil Island
Leading Peak is a hike to the highest point on Anvil Island – the northern most island in Howe Sound, British Columbia.
Access is by water or air only. It can be accessed by private water taxi or helicopter charter, or with your personal watercraft. Both Cormorant Marine and Mercury Water Taxi can depart from Horseshoe Bay, making it a 20-30 minute crossing. As of June 2018 they charged $200 each way for the boat with maximum 8 passengers. Dogs are typically allowed on water taxis at the company’s discretion. For those thinking about kayaking, note it is an advanced paddle for experienced kayakers only. It is a 3-4 hour paddle from the rental shop on Bowen Island.
The main trailhead is only accessible by crossing the private property of Daybreak Point Bible Camp. Advanced permission from them is required to use their dock and cross their land to get to the trail. As of June 2018, you can email them at or call them at . They will send you a waiver to sign and suggest a donation of $25 per group.
I have read there is a beach located farther north up the east side of the island with another access point for the trail, but that the trail, while half the distance, is much, much steeper than the already very steep main trail. I believe the trail is called Nighthawk and scales up the east side of the island and connects with the main trail just before the lake, ¾ of the way to the top. You can see the track on the maps.me app.
From the bible camp dock, head up the wide gravel path. You will see the water on your left and the bible camp’s cabins on your right. Go right at the fork and look for this little bridge across the ditch on your right. If you reach a driveway with a sign saying “Daybreak Point Bible Camp Private Property” leading up to a house, you’ve gone too far.
Cross the little bridge and you will enter a big open field with a treehouse platform on your left. Walk straight through this field to the far end, entering a sparse forested area with no discernible trail. Walk straight through this and you will come to a narrow dirt road. Follow this to the right and then stay left at the fork. In June there were lots of salmon berry bushes on the left just before the first real sign of the trail.
You will enter the forest on your left when you see this small white sign on a birch tree on the right side of the trail. After about 100 metres of flat trail through a lush forest full of ferns, the climb begins. I didn’t notice any markers at this point, but the trail was obvious enough to follow up through the steep, forested slope, then up over steep rocks with gorgeous foxgloves to your first peek-a-boo view south over the camp.
It was at this point I started noticing the trail markers: round tin can lids painted a faint yellow (orange when you get closer to the top), nailed to trees. They blend in with the forest colours and often look like thick branch ends so keep a regular watch for them as the trail for the next km or so is not very obvious.
The trail is mostly a straight, steep climb up. When you see signs for the watershed, you cross the creek here over to your right. Follow the creek up and you will soon come upon your first set of many ropes to help you up the steep slope.
The first sign you will come to is to go left crossing back over the creek to access the peak, or you can continue straight up for a short detour to an excellent viewpoint called White Spot (sorry no burgers here!). This trail is quite overgrown so not very obvious to follow, and it’s not on maps.me. You can download my gpx track above if you have a device to upload it to. Stay to the left of the rocks/cliff on your right, go up and around these and the viewpoint is over the rocks in front of you, with the view blocked by lots of trees. Look for the solar panel you can sort of see through the trees and head towards that. Climb up over those rocks and through the trees these is a big, flat area of rock with a spectacular, expansive view south over Howe Sound. You can see the North Shore mountains to your left, the bible camp down below and southwest over some of the other Howe Sound islands. The cross reported on other sites is now laid flat and serves as a bench. The solar panel’s metal posts are in the shape of a cross though, which is the white spec visible from the water.
After enjoying this spot, head back over west and down to that junction and cross over the creek. Follow the trail markers and in about 1.5 km more you will reach a junction with some signs saying Nighthawk trail is off to the left, and the lake and peak are straight ahead. Go straight and you will come upon Champside Lake. There is a small trail on your left into a small clearing near the lake with some shade, a perfect spot for lunch. There are a few small spots you can sit at the lake’s edge to dip your feet in to cool down. Don’t get your hopes up for a refreshing swim as the “lake” is more of a big marshy puddle. It’s shallow, maybe knee depth at most, and the bottom is squishy, murky grossness (obviously the technical term). It’s quite pretty though with lots of floating lilipads.
Carry on alongside the lake and you soon come upon a view that will make you re-evaluate your choice to hike here (ha!). Don’t worry though, it’s not nearly as scary to climb as it looks from this point.
Yes, that lump in the distance is what you’ll be climbing to the very top of…
From here the trail starts undulating up and down a few steep slopes. At the bottom of the first steep decent, you’ll cross a ditch over a log with the word PEAK carved into it. Shortly after, on your right side perched on some large fungus protruding from a tree like a shelf, there is a cute wooden sign colourfully painted pointing you to carry on along the trail to the peak.
The climb begins again and soon you will find yourself in a little valley full of deadfall and granite cliffs looming high above on both sides. The trail sticks to the left side until you see the rockface on your right curving to the right. On top of this mass of rock is Leading Peak, your destination. At this point, cross the deadfall to your right as the trail follows this rockface now in a clockwise direction as you ascend up its north face. There are a few ropes to help you up the steeper sections, but be prepared to climb up some high rocks. There were a few places we had to take our overnight packs off and hoist them up to the next ledge to be able to climb freely up.
When you’re halfway up the rockface, you will come to a beautiful view looking north towards Garibaldi. Just beyond, there is a final sign that points towards the peak.
Continue following the markers up and then south over the rocks until you reach the top.
At the top there is a triangular base, some electrical equipment, and a big helipad (for SAR and other emerg helicopters to land on, do not set up your tent here!). South of the helipad, down below there is a massive solar panel. There is a path down the slope to a small clearing just in front of it that gives you beautiful unobstructed views east/south/west.
Leading Peak is an out-and-back trail. To return to the start, follow the same track back. While climbing up some of the steeper sections, I got a bit worried about how much harder and sketchier it would be going down but somehow it seemed a lot easier going down. Go figure.
This is a pure backcountry spot up a difficult, and technical trail, with no amenities anywhere on the island (no outhouses, no potable water sources, etc). As with every hike, make sure you are prepared. Leave a trip plan and be sure to have all 10 essentials with you! The weather can change on a dime, so be sure to have warm and waterproof gear (learn more about how to stay dry while hiking in this blog post).
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