Because the Gulf Islands are so tightly configured, it’s often difficult to determine where one begins and another leaves off, especially as Vancouver Island provides such a big backdrop that it takes on the appearance of a mini mainland. One of the best ways to sort out the geography is to take a hike to one of the higher viewpoints, such as the peak of Mount Norman. From this vantage point you can identify the surrounding islands.
The main hiking trailhead is off Ainslie Point Road. From here, start your 30-minute hike through stands of Willow and Red Alder surrounded by towering Douglas firs. Proceed along twisted trails over a bedrock base established 80 million years ago.
Finally reaching the summit of Mount Norman, the highest point on the Pender Islands, at 244 metres (800 feet), the views of the surrounding islands and northern San Juan Islands are unsurpassed. The vista from the top makes every step of the hike worth it. After a rest, you can return to Ainslie Point Road, or continue the trail down to Canal Road on the northern boundary of the park.
Facilities in Mount Norman Park are limited to toilets, parking, and a boardwalk at the viewpoint atop Mount Norman (no camping). Adjacent to the park is Beaumont Marine Park, which is also part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Beaumont is reached by a separate trail leading off near the main trailhead. It’s a fairly steep 2.5-km trail, and while it only takes about 30 to 40 minutes to walk down, it’s a challenging hike to come back up. With good anchorage, mooring buoys, and a sandy beach for kayakers to land, Beaumont is a popular place to camp (11 campsites) and picnic for visitors touring the islands by boat or kayak.
Mount Norman Park is located on South Pender Island in the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia, 5 miles (8 km) southeast of the Otter Bay Ferry Terminal (a 15-minute drive).
Access to the park is off Canal Road. Turn right onto Ainslie Point Road immediately after crossing the wooden bridge that connects North and South Pender Islands. Follow the road to the Mount Norman Park entrance, where parking is available.
BC Ferries provides a vehicle and passenger ferry service to Otter Bay Ferry Terminal on North Pender Island from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island (Victoria) and from Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver on the BC mainland.
The shoreline of North and South Pender Islands attracts kayakers, canoeists, fisherman and scuba divers. Cycling is a great way to explore the islands as there are so many roads and beautiful beaches to discover.
Nearby Regions & Towns
Parks Canada – British Columbia
Box 129, 23433 Mavis Avenue
Fort Langley, BC, V1M 2R5
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
2220 Harbour Road
Sidney, BC, V8L 2P6
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Poets Cove MarinaPoets Cove Marina
Poets Cove Marina is located in beautiful Bedwell Harbour on Pender Island, one of the top ten anchorages in the Western Hemisphere. Contained within North America’s largest designated marine park, the Marina at Poets Cove offers 110 deep water slips for boats up to 100 feet, with fuel, power, water, and a Canada Customs office right in the Harbour. Heated pool, hot tub, laundromat, and showers.