One of the greatest natural spectacles in British Columbia occurs in the Skookumchuck Narrows, also known as stl’ikwu in she shashishalhem, the traditional language spoken by the shíshálh Nation.
Twice daily, nature puts on a show as the tide changes and the flow of saltwater switches, reversing the direction and power of the incredibly turbulent Sechelt Rapids. The difference in water levels between one side of the rapids and the other sometimes exceeds 9 ft in height, with 200 billion gallons of water flowing through the Skookumchuck Narrows connecting Sechelt and Jervis Inlets. The Sechelt Rapids are famous for their spectacular whirlpools and, for their attraction to extreme kayakers and divers. “Skook”, as it is affectionately named, is one of the great whitewater wonders of the world, attracting thrill-seekers from across the globe.
The rapids can be reached by a popular and easy 4 km hike in Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park, located in Egmont, BC. The well-developed trail has minimal elevation change, and takes about one hour to walk. The trail takes you to the Narrows, where you can choose one of two viewing locations: Roland Point and North Point. If you’re looking to see big waves, head to the Roland Point viewing area. The whirlpool and tidal pool activity is is best seen from the North Point viewing area.
Skookumchuck Narrows Best Viewing Times
You can download and print the Skookumchuck Best Viewing Times Brochure (PDF), which lists the best viewing times for each day of the year. It is a twelve-page document, with one page for each month of the year. Flood currents are denoted by a (+) and ebb currents by a (-). Large (L) and extra-large (XL) symbols denote times when there is a more dramatic change in the rapids.
There is approximately a half-hour window on either side of the “Best Viewing” times, so you don’t need to be there right at the exact time. For more information, check out our Hiking Guide for Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park or visit BC Parks’ website.