Hiking to Tin Hat and Staying in Tin Hat Hut on the Sunshine Coast
Tin Hat Mountain is one of those places that doesn’t feel real. It is a really amazing place located on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia which you can hike to and camp at.
Tin Hat is one of the many stops along the Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT) and the most famous one due to the its picturesque hut on top of the mountain which is surrounded by almost 360 views.
Tin Hat Mountain is one of the best backpacking trips on the Sunshine Coast and one of our favourites in British Columbia due to how easy it was vs how insane the views were!
The best part about Tin Hat, is that if you have a 4×4 vehicle, you can drive most of the way up the mountain, making the hike only 4.2km / 2.6 miles return with an elevation gain of 296m / 971 ft.
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📑 Hike Stats
Distance: 4.2km / 2.6 miles
Time: 1-2 hours
Elevation: 296m / 971 ft
Dog Friendly: Yes
Toilets: Yes at the campground where the hut is. None in the parking area.
📍 Where is Tin Hat Located
Tin Hat Mountain is located on the Sunshine Coast near Powell River in British Columbia, Canada.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
How to get to the Tin Hat Mountain trailhead from Vancouver
Getting to the Tin Hat Mountain trailhead from Vancouver, involves 2 ferries, one of which you can book and the other you cannot book ahead of time. The entire journey from Vancouver to the Tin Hat Mountain trailhead, including ferry waiting times, took about 7 hours.
The first ferry leaves from Horseshoe Bay Terminal and goes to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast which you can book on the BC Ferries Website. The views from the ferry are awesome so make sure you get out of your car and onto the deck to check them out!
The second ferry goes from Earls Cove to Saltery Bay and this ferry is a first come first serve so I recommend trying to start your journey early in the morning to avoid delays.
We only went for 1 night which we spent camping up at Tin Hat, however, if you plan on backpacking like us, I recommend booking an extra night’s accommodation down at Powell River. There are some beautiful stays listed at the end of this blog post that I can recommend.
To get as far up to the trailhead as possible in a 4×4 car, use the map above to get to the “drive here and continue on marker.” Then, follow the highlighted section in the maps below (both are the same but one is google maps and one is Alltrails) to reach the final parking spot. It does get a little confusing so go slow, and make sure you follow the map. You will be pretty much following the Sunshine Coast Trail.
Important Note (4×4 Logging Road):
The road to get to the trailhead is a 4×4 logging road and has some huge bumps in sections. The road tends to get worse and worse as you get higher. You will need a high clearance vehicle to get all of the way to the top of the road as there are a few large water bars.
Alternatively, you can park lower down the road where ever you can find a free parking spot, however this will add a lot more distance to your hike.
🥾 How hard is the hike to Tin Hat Mountain?
If you can drive all of the way to the top, the hike to Tin Hat is a little steep, especially if you have a heavy overnight backpack with you, but very short so not too hard.
I would rate this hike easy – moderate, depending on how much you are carrying and your hiking experience.
🐶 Can dogs do the trail to Tin Hat Mountain?
Yes, dogs are allowed on the Tin Hat Mountain trail and are allowed to camp with you at the campsite. As always, the rule is that dogs should be on leash, however, it doesn’t seem like anyone really follows this rule anywhere.
Just remember that you are in the backcountry and sharing the space with wild animals so try to do everything to ensure you are as safe as possible.
🕔 Tin Hat Mountain Hiking Time
It took us about 40 minutes on the way up and 30 minutes on the way down from Tin Hat Hut. The summit is an additional 10-20 minutes each way. You should account for 1.5 to 2.5 hours in total including stops.
🥾 How Hard is the Hike to Tin Hat Hut
The hike to Tin Hat Mountain is not very hard as it is super short. Unless of course, you don’t have a 4×4 car and have to hike up from the very bottom of the mountain. If you do this, the hike would be more like 18km with 962m elevation.
There are no bathrooms at the trailhead or on the 4×4 road, however there are some great facilities up at Tin Hat Hut which we were impressed about.
There is not one but two backcountry drop toilets, a bear cache, picnic tables and about 3 new tent platforms.
Then of course, there is the hut itself which has a table and benchtops.
🚰 Where to Filter Water
There is nowhere to filter water on Tin Hat Mountain so you will need to bring all of your water with you. This was one of the contributions to our incredibly heavy backpacks on his hike but as it’s not a super long one, luckily you don’t have to suffer for too long.
🦁 Animals in the area
There are a variety of animals that live on the Sunshine Coast such as black bears, grizzly bears, cougars, coyotes, wolves, deer, racoons, elk and more.
🌲 Leave No Trace
Whenever you are enjoying the beautiful nature that our world has to offer, remember to leave no trace (LNT)! Respect the beautiful places that make our world beautiful and take out everything that you take in, take only photos and respect the wildlife and other people. You can read more on the 7 LNT principles here.
🏚 Tin Hat Hut and Campground
You can do Tin Hat Mountain as a day hike or you can camp there overnight either in the hut or on one of the tent platforms that have been recently installed.
Can You Stay in Tin Hat Hut
Staying the hut is on a first-come-first-serve basis. It is free to stay in the hut, however when we were there the girl that slept in the hut said there were loads of mice running around her through the night. This is probably due to people cooking or eating in the hut in the past.
Where to Camp on Tin Hat Mountain
You do not need a camping permit to camp on Tin Hat Mountain. There are about 3 tent platforms and a couple of other obvious flat camping spots. If these are all full, there is a lot of space up there, so you are sure to find somewhere to pitch your tent.
The Tin Hat Mountain Hiking Trail
If you have a 4×4 vehicle and can make it to the top of the road, the trail to Tin Hat Hut is 4.2km / 2.6 miles return with an elevation gain of 296m / 971ft. It will take you about 40 minutes – 1 hour to get to the top from here.
The Trailhead and the Start of the Trial
From the parking lot, you will see a trail on the other side of the road with a makeshift sign directing you up to Tin Hat.
You will need to take this trail which starts off quite steep and is unrelenting with a heavy overnight backpack on. Because we knew that it was such as short hike, we packed more than usual and definitely felt it during this portion of the hike.
The trail for the first half of the hike is wide enough that we could walk side by side and chat as we hiked and is through the trees so you are sheltered from the sun.
You will see a turn for another trail. Ignore it and keep heading up the same trail.
Reaching Tin Hat Hut
About 3/4s into the hike, the trail becomes narrower and a bit more shrubby. It also becomes a little more exposed to the sun here so if it’s a hot day, this is where you will really feel it.
Watch out for rocks and roots and keep hiking. It’s not too much further. The narrow trail loops up and eventually opens up and you will hike out of the trees and see Tin Hat Hut. You’ve made it!
Tin Hat Mountain Summit
The hut isn’t actually located at the summit of Tin Hat Mountain. To reach the summit, it is another 10-20 minute hike up and you can actually see the summit from the hut so it isn’t too much further.
We went up to the summit twice while we were there. Once when we arrived and again at sunrise the next morning.
It is a little harder to navigate where the trail goes from the hut to the summit as I think there have been a few different trails made by hikers in the past. We took the path slightly to the left when looking up to the summit, going straight down and then up to the summit, picking the easiest path as we went.
❄ Hiking to Tin Hat Hut in Winter
During Winter, the road leading up to the trailhead is not ploughed so if you want to do this hike during Winter, you will need to snow shoe up from the very bottom which makes for an extremely long hike in Winter conditions.
Make sure you have lots of warm layers, food and water and that someone knows where you are.
👚 Packing Essentials for Tin Hat Mountain
Here are some of the essential items that we brought with us to camp at Tin Hat Mountain. If you are doing Tin Hat Mountain as a day hike, check out our Day Hiking Gear Guide to see everything we wear and bring on a day hike.
I wore my Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots to hike Tin Hat and they were great because they have a really solid thick sole. About half of the hike is on a trail covered in small rocks that I know my feet would have felt a lot more with my Oboz.
Head lamps are a really important item to take camping. Both Dave and I have been using our Nitecore headlamps for years now and have never had to replace them. They are rechargeable so we just make sure they are fully charged before every trip.
Both Dave and I used hiking poles for Tin Hat Mountain. If you are able to drive all of the way to the main trailhead, you may feel like you don’t need poles for this hike, however we found they were really helpful with our heavy overnight backpacks.
My MEC Zephyr 65L Backpack was perfect for Tin Hat Mountain. I have taken this bag on all of my overnight backpacking trips this year and it has never failed me.
We slept in our MEC Spark 2.0 2-Person Tent which we love! It is a very small and lightweight tent designed especially for backpacking. If you want a little more room, you could go for the MEC Spark 2.0 3-Person Tent.
Comfy Camp Shoes
Camp shoes are something that I have only just invested in but I wish I had done it ages ago because they are a game changer. Being able to change out of my hiking boots into comfy shoes is something I always look forward to know when I get to camp.
First Aid Kit and Bear Spray
You never know when you might need one! We take a small lightweight first aid kit with us on our hikes. In it we have Band-Aids, gauze, tweezers, antiseptic and more.
You should always carry bear spray when hiking in British Columbia. On the Sunshine Coast, there are black bears, cougars and coyote, amongst other wildlife.
Sun Protection and Bug Spray
The last section of the trail is pretty exposed to the sun as well as the climb to the summit. The bugs can also be pretty awful during Summer so I recommend bringing along some bug spray.
🛌 Places to Stay Nearby
The Sunshine Coast and Powell River is such a long trip from Vancouver and so if you are only planning on coming for the weekend, I highly recommend booking accommodation nearby for the night before. This is something that we wish we had done and will probably do next time.
There are some really beautiful accommodation options in Powell River.
Ocean Views & Sunset Beach Cabin with soaker tub & fire pit
This gorgeous 2 bedroom rustic cabin is about a 1 hour 15 minute drive to the Tin Hat Mountain trailhead and the perfect place to stay and relax before or after a trip to Tin Hat Mountain.
Malaspina Strait Cottage
The Malaspina Strait Cottage can sleep up to 6 people with 2 double beds and one sofa bed. It is a 1 hour drive from the cottage to Tin Hat Mountain trailhead and only a 10 minute drive to Powell River town centre. The cottage has a garden area, picnic area with a BBQ and private beach so is perfect for a weekend away!
Beach Gardens Resort and Marina
Beach Gardens Resort and Marina is perfect for a quick nights stay as it is more like a hotel rather than a cabin stay. Every room has an ocean view and a patio and there is a restaurant on site as well as a private beach area!
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