The Jug Island Trail is a popular Vancouver hike through Belcarra Regional Park that will take you along the water of the Indian Arm. The Jug Island beach hike is a relatively easy trail through the forest and you will be rewarded at the end with a picturesque beach that overlooks Jug Island and views all the way up Indian Arm and over to the surrounding mountains.
As the Jug Island hike is a relatively easy trail and it is a short drive from Vancouver, it does get busy on the weekends and public holidays. But don’t let that stop you from visiting as it is a nice wide trail and even on busy weekends you will still be able to enjoy it. As this trail sits just above sea level it is also one of our favourite winter hikes in Vancouver and can be completed at any time of the year.
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Jug Island Beach Trail Overview
How to Get to the Jug Island Beach Hike
*Tip: If you enter “Jug Island Trailhead” into Google Maps, it will take you to the wrong side of the parking lot in the village and there is a cement barrier to stop you from accessing the parking lot. It is permit parking only on this side of the cement barrier so you can’t park here to complete the hike. Make sure you follow the pin above and go to Belcarra Picnic Area where there is a large parking lot.
To get here you will drive through Port Moody and go right passed the Shoreline Trail before turning onto Ioco Road to get to Belcarra Bay. Stay on Ioco Rd for 4km before turning right on 1st Ave which will later turn into Bedwell Bay Rd.
Shortly after the signs for Sasamat Lake, about 5 minutes before you reach the parking lot, there is a fork in the road. Google Maps will tell you to go right but make sure you turn left to go to the picnic area.
At the park, there is quite a large parking lot but it does get busy on nice days. Our first time here we had to do a couple of laps before we got a spot but it wasn’t too bad. There is a really nice park area here with picnic benches and a large grassy area right by the water which is perfect for a sunny day. You’ll also find bathrooms in the park here which you can use before starting the hike as well as a Jug Island trail map so you can see the route you will take.
The trail can be accessed by public transit which is great and you can take the Belcarra bus, which is bus 182 to get dropped right by the Jug Island trailhead.
Jug Island Trail Details
The Jug Island Hike is a 5.5km return hike with 100 metres of elevation gain. Depending on your speed, it will roughly take 2 hours to complete with some time to relax and enjoy the beach at the end.
You will find the Jug Island trailhead by going to the far end of the parking lot – the opposite end to the bathrooms. Simply cross the road and head to the left and you will see trail markers for this hike that will give you clear Jug Island trail directions.
The first 10 minutes of the trail are relatively steep as you climb along a wide gravel path through the forest. This is the steepest part of the trail and it doesn’t last for too long which is good. There are still roots and rocks along this trail and as you get further along the trail there are some much rockier parts that you need to climb over so this trail is not wheelchair or stroller accessible.
After this short climb, you will descend down some stairs and along the trail to a bit of a valley. The middle section of this hike is relatively flat and is again along a wide well-maintained trail. Shortly after 1.5 kilometres of hiking, you will come to a fork in the trail and you will need to take the path to the right, which is marked with a signpost.
From here the trail gets a little bit more rugged as you climb over more rocks and roots and the trail itself becomes narrower. As you climb up again you will start to see glimpses of Bedwell Bay to your right through the trees. At one point this opens up completely and you get uninterrupted views over Bedwell Bay and across to the opposite shore.
You’ll have to navigate some rocky and uneven terrain so a good pair of hiking boots will come in useful (we are big fans of the Columbia Newton Ridge II hiking boots). If you visit in the winter or spring the trail can be very muddy in places so hiking boots will make this a more enjoyable experience for you.
The trail winds back into the trees again and you’ll get to enjoy the lush green forest and mossy-covered rocks. There is a small creek that runs alongside the trail for a short stretch which is very picturesque but can make the trail extra muddy in the spring.
Want to know exactly what we pack for a day out hiking? Check out our quick list below or read our full guide for what to bring on a day hike here.
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Jug Island Beach
The last 50 metres of the trail will take you downhill to the beach and you will catch glimpses of the beach and the water as you climb down this final section of the trail. You will pass an outhouse just before you reach the beach and as you walk onto the beach and out of the forest the view completely opens up.
Jug Island sits just a short distance from the beach and in the summer months, you’ll see people swimming in the water here and swimming the short distance to explore Jug Island. As you walk along this short stretch of beach you’ll also get to enjoy views down Indian Arm and over the surrounding mountains.
This is quite a busy waterway and you’ll see plenty of boats cruising by and lots of kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders in the summer.
The beach is a great place to sit and enjoy a packed lunch or even just a quick snack as you watch the world go by. This is a beautiful place and it is amazing to be able to have it accessible so close to downtown Vancouver and to have it be accessible by public transit. Once you have enjoyed a quick rest on the beach you can follow the same trail back to the parking lot.
It took us around 45 minutes to hike each way and with a stop at the beach, you should plan to take at least 2 hours to complete this hike. If you are looking for another great hike in the area, we recommend checking our Admiralty Point which is on the opposite side of Belcarra Regional Park.
The Jug Island trail is a fantastic hike and we highly recommend you add it to your list. It’s also short and easy enough that you can do it after work in the summer months. We also love that you can complete this hike at any time of year, even on a rainy day as most of the trail is through the forest.
Even though it does tend to get quite busy this is still one of our favourite hikes in Vancouver and you won’t be disappointed when you reach Jug Island beach.
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