The Tin Hat Mountain Hike on the Sunshine Coast Trail is probably the highlight of this 180-kilometre backcountry hike along British Columbia’s west coast. The infamous Tin Hat Hut is perched on the edge of Tin Hat Mountain and the views from the top are absolutely sensational.
You will get to enjoy 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, and over the Georgia Strait to Texada Island and Vancouver Island in the distance. Add in the picturesque Tin Hat Cabin and you’ve got one of the most spectacular views in Western Canada.
The Tin Hat Mountain hut can be enjoyed as a day hike, a quick overnight trip, or you can choose to do some or all of the Sunshine Coast Trail. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about Tin Hat in Powell River, and this hiking guide will be based on the day hike/overnight hiking trail in and out of Tin Hat Hut.
If you are looking for cool things to do in Powell River, or you are searching for an epic backcountry hike somewhere along the west coast, then you should seriously consider the Tin Hat hike. The trail isn’t too difficult and you get stunning views from the top. Plus because of its more remote location along the Sunshine Coast, it doesn’t ever get too busy.
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Tin Hat Hut Hike Overview
How to Get to Tin Hat Mountain
The trailhead for the Tin Hat Hut hike is just over an hour’s drive from Powell River and you will be driving along a lot of gravel logging roads to get here. There are some signs for the Tin Hat Mountain trail but you should ensure that you have the correct directions before you go.
Keep your eyes peeled for bears along these logging roads as they are fairly common in the area. We were lucky to see a black bear crossing the logging road as we drove home after completing this hike.
One key thing to be aware of is that the main trailhead for the hike is marked incorrectly on Google Maps when you just search for Tin Hat Hut. It will take you to a trail by Lewis Lake. While you can hike from the location you are given on the map, there is a better route to take and it is a slightly shorter drive to get here. The correct location for the trailhead is marked on the map above so you can use this as your reference point.
From Powell River, drive southeast to Lang Bay. Turn left onto Dixon Road which is opposite Lang Bay Store (a good stop if you need any last-minute snacks before your hike). Follow this road until it merges with Goat Lake Main at Lois Lake. Continue along this road for around 9 kilometres until you reach the Tin Hat junction where you will take the road to the left.
Continue along this road for 5 kilometres until you reach the Still Main Road junction where you will go left and follow the signs for Tin Hat Hut. If you pass Nanton Lake rec site you have gone too far. From this turn off the trailhead is a 7-kilometre drive up Spring Lake Main Road.
After 4 kilometres on this road, you will pass some logging blocks and then there is a fork in the road. Continue left at this fork. Drive for 2 kilometres and you will cross a small yellow bridge before coming to another junction for Giovanni Main. Do not take this exit and keep right to stay on Spring Lake Main.
Shortly after the 7-kilometre marker, there is a sharp right-hand corner with a small road to the left. This is the entrance to the trailhead. There is room for 2 – 3 cars to park here but there are some spots back along the road that you can safely pull over on.
*If you have a 4-wheel drive you can actually continue to drive up the road on the left and you can cut out some of the arduous climbing along the gravel trails. It is a steep and pothole-filled road so you will need a 4-wheel drive with decent ground clearance to make it up here. If you can make it up it will save you around an hour of hiking and make your hike to the top incredibly short.
Tin Hat Mountain Hike
At the small parking lot at the trailhead, there is a small map of the hike so you can get some basic information on the hike itself. Once you have all of the information you need, you can begin your hike to the Tin Hat Mountain cabin.
Follow the logging road up for around 800 metres and you will come to a junction with a small trail to the left. Turn left and follow this trail as it is a much shorter hiking route. After around 300 metres you the road will take you into some dense forest where you will be surrounded by beautiful trees and get some shade from the sun.
The trail through the forest is about 1 kilometre long and will put you back out onto the main logging road which is much more open. Continue straight across the logging road to continue along the small hiking trail, and this crossing is at around the 2.2-kilometre mark. The trail remains open for a few hundred metres more before you go into the trees again at the 2.8-kilometre mark.
After just over an hour or so of hiking, you will reach the end of the logging road where you will most likely see some 4-wheel drives parked who braved the steep road up. This is as far as they can drive so everyone must hike from here. This 2nd parking lot is at 3.5 kilometres and is at 380 metres of elevation gain from the main parking lot.
As you climb to this section, you will be able to enjoy some great views back down the mountain over the surrounding lakes and forests.
The hiking trail continues up through the forest from this 2nd parking lot, with some steeper sections in this final portion of the trail. As you climb, you will pass a junction with signs to the left for Fiddlehead, which is part of the Sunshine Coast Trail. You will want to continue straight along the Tin Hat Hut trail.
You will know you are very close to the hut when the trail gets very narrow. The last 5-10 minutes of this trail are along a much smaller path with more uneven terrain and tree roots to negotiate. After just a few minutes of this, you will climb over a small ridge and get your first glimpse of the cabin.
Tin Hat Cabin and Mountain Peak
It should take 1.5 – 2 hours to reach the Tin Hat Cabin and when you get here you won’t be disappointed with the sensational views. The wooden cabin really is picture-perfect as it is perched on the edge of the mountain with a beautiful backdrop of mountains, lakes, and the Georgia Strait.
Once you are at the cabin there is still plenty more to explore which is great. There are picnic tables inside and outside the cabin so you stop for some quick refreshments before exploring the surrounding area. You’ll also find a pit toilet just a short distance from the cabin.
The cabin itself isn’t actually right at the summit of Tin Hat Mountain. You’ll need to hike up for another 5 minutes to reach the summit of the mountain and the views from up here are even better. The Tin Hat Mountain elevation is 1193 meters/3914 feet above sea level.
There are similar views of the cabin and the surrounding landscape from up here but the cabin looks even more epic from up above. You’ll also get 360-degree views of the surrounding wilderness and it is truly breathtaking. If you walk to the opposite side of the peak to the cabin you will get to look over to Goat Island. Near the summit of this island is Frogpond Lake which looks pretty unusual from this perspective.
Other notable landmarks you can see from the peak include Inland Lake, Haslam Lake, Texada Island, Vancouver Island, and the Strait of Georgia.
If you are camping or staying in the hut (more on this below) then we highly recommend watching the sunset from right at the peak of the mountain and enjoying the incredible views in every single direction. If you are just doing the Tin Hat Mountain day hike then you can still stay for sunset and make your way down just before dark, especially if you used a 4-wheel drive to reach the top parking lot.
Camping at the Tin Hat Mountain Hut
While you can just do a day trip here, we highly recommend spending the night. You can choose to stay in the hut or to bring a tent and camp nearby. The hut is open year-round and many people snowshoe here in the winter to stay in the cabin.
Staying overnight in the hut is completely free, although you can choose to make a donation to the upkeep of the huts along the Sunshine Coast Trail. The hut can get quite busy and there is only room for 8-10 people in the sleeping loft upstairs. If you do want to stay in the hut then we recommend that you arrive here early, especially in the summer months.
Even on weekends in the winter it can get busy here so again, plan to arrive early and it is always a good idea to bring a tent just in case the hut is already full. In the winter months, there is a stove to burn pellets (the pellets are provided) to help keep the cabin warm throughout the night.
If you can’t get a space in the cabin or you would just prefer your own space in a tent, then there are several spots to pitch your tent nearby. Camping is also free and there are no fees or permits required however, you can still choose to make a donation for the upkeep of the trail.
Places to Stay in Powell River
We recommend making a trip out of this hiking adventure and spend some time exploring nearby Powell River and Savary Island while you are in the area.
Beach Gardens Resort Powell River – There aren’t too many options to choose from in terms of hotels in Powell River, but the Beach Gardens Resort and Marina is probably the best choice. It is in a great location, just a short drive from the town centre and it is right on the water so you’ll get nice views out over the water. Like most accommodation in Powell River, it is also very reasonably priced.
There are also several places to go camping in Powell River, such as Willingdon Beach Campsite, which is right on the edge of town or camp a short drive away at Haywire Bay Regional Park.
While there are many epic stops along the Sunshine Coast Trail, Tin Hat Mountain has to be one of the best, if not the best portion of the Sunshine Coast Trail. This beautiful wooden cabin has such a spectacular backdrop and you’ll enjoy watching the sunset from this lookout high above the Sunshine Coast.
The Tin Hat Mountain hike had been on our radar for a long time before we finally got the chance to visit and we were absolutely blown away by how beautiful it was up here. This should definitely make it onto your list of things to do in Powell River and your hiking bucket list for the west coast.
Planning a trip to the Sunshine Coast or Vancouver Island? Check out some of our other guides here: