Helliwell Provincial Park sits on a headland forested with a beautiful stand of old-growth Douglas fir. Located on St. John Point on Hornby Island, the 69-hectare park guards the northern entrance to Tribune Bay.
As you explore the park’s meandering hiking and walking trails, you will find weather-beaten old-growth Douglas-firs and gnarled oaks, as well as flora and fauna which may seem more at home in a desert than in a Northwest rainforest.
One of the best times to visit the park is in late April and early May, when beautiful wildflowers carpet the hillside above the beach. If you arrive here in spring you’ll be treated to a dazzling display of wildflowers. The rewards for visiting later in summer are the huckleberries and dark blue salal berries that cloak the hillside above the beach.
Owing to the low elevation of most Gulf and Discovery Islands, walking routes are neither lengthy nor challenging. Some of the best trails are on Hornby Island and lead around Helliwell Provincial Park.
A 3-mile (5-km) loop trail follows the Helliwell Bluffs that rise above the beach and lead through open fields and stands of magnificent old-growth Douglas fir trees. Many sea birds and marine mammals can be viewed from the trail.
From the cliffs there are spectacular views of Georgia Strait and the Coast Mountains. Observe numerous species of birds and wildlife that make their home on the island, including deer, eagles, herons, pelagic cormorants and sea lions. Killer whale sightings are possible from Hornby’s high headland.
Off the tip of St. John Point, which forms Tribune Bay to the north, is the tiny Flora Islet, one of only two locations in the world where divers can expect to see the rare six-gill shark. This primitive, deep-sea shark ascends from great depths to the relative shallows around Flora Islet, attracting divers and marine biologists from around the world. The previously private Flores Islet was acquired and designated as part of Helliwell park through the Pacific Marine Heritage Legacy.
Fascinating sandstone formations can be viewed in the southern end of Helliwell park. Nearby Tribune Bay boasts eroded hoodoo formations and a sandy beach that vies with any in the Gulf Islands as the most ideal place to frolic and swim in the crystal-clear seawater.
The conglomerate and sandstone cliffs at Helliwell provide interesting paddling opportunities. Kayakers can launch at Tribune Bay or Whaling Station Bay on the north side of the island.
Helliwell Provincial Park was donated to the province of British Columbia by John Helliwell, and established as a park in 1966. Park facilities at Helliwell include picnic spots and pit toilets. No camping is permitted in the park. The nearest camping facilities are adjacent to Tribune Bay Provincial Park.
Helliwell Provincial Park is located on Horny Island in the Northern Gulf Islands of BC. From Buckley Bay, 12.5 miles (20 km) south of Courtenay, a 10-minute ferry ride takes you to Denman Island. After a 15-minute scenic drive to Gravelly Bay Ferry Terminal on the east of Denman, you can take a connecting ferry to Shingle Spit on Hornby Island. Follow Shingle Spit Road to the Hornby Island Co-op, then turn left and follow Central Road to St. John’s Point Road, continuing to the park.
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