Salt Spring Escape

Tess van Straaten explores Salt Spring Island, hikes Mount Maxwell

It’s low tide and bright purple starfish and thick green seaweed cover the beach as a magical underwater world is briefly exposed. We’re on Salt Spring Island, beachcombing near the Fernwood Dock on the north end of the Island, for a few days of outdoor adventure.

“The nice thing with Salt Spring during spring break and other times of year is that there’s something for everyone,” explains Janet Clouston of the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce and Salt Spring Tourism. “We have families that love outdoor adventure, families that are artistic and musical, people who want the farm experience and others who are into health and wellness and health and you can do it all here.”

One of the most popular things to do is hiking. There are three stunning provincial parks — Mount Erskine, which has 50 fairy doors leading up to the top and one of the Island’s most spectacular views, Mount Maxwell, with a breathtaking viewpoint 600 metres above sea level, and Ruckle.

“Ruckle has wonderful trails with old growth forests and it’s right on the edge of the ocean so quite a few of the trails are along the water,” says Clouston. “It’s an absolutely gorgeous hike for families and it’s not that hilly.”

We decided to tackle the highest peak — Mount Maxwell. Winding through the trails you truly feel like you’re lost in the woods. And for awhile, we were. But the kids and our little dog didn’t mind, happily scampering up steep inclines until we finally arrived at the top. The incredible panoramic view, with the ocean on both sides and farm fields in between, made us feel like we were on the top of the world.

For those looking for an artistic adventure, studio tours are a fun way to explore the Island and take in Salt Spring’s active arts scene.

“There are about 40 studios open to the public and a lot of them are quite experiential so when you go through the studio you can actually see the artist in action,” Clouston explains.

Culinary tours and farm tours are also popular. Salt Spring Cheese is rated as the number one thing to do on the Island by Trip Advisor and the oldest working farm in the province, Ruckle Heritage Farm, lets you step back in time.

Salt Spring’s also home to three wineries, a cidery, a brewery and a new vodka distillery. If all that has you working up an appetite, the oceanfront village of Ganges has lots of great culinary offerings and live music at night. Our favourite was the Tree House Café, which is built around a beautiful old plum tree. There’s even a fairy door and a secret treasure box. After we arrived home, my son received a postcard from the fairies — a reminder of our magical Salt Spring escape.

For more info: http://www.saltspringtourism.com/

 

 

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