Trail: Sandy Cove Trail
Location: Harrison Hot Springs
Distance from Vancouver: 122 km (Approximately 1 hour 45 minutes)
Directions: Click here for Google Map
Trail type: Destination
Time to hike: Approximately 45 minutes one way
Ages of children hiking: 10, 3, 1 (in backpack)
Jellybean rating: 3/5
Sandy Cove trail in Harrison Hot Springs is definitely worth the drive! While there is the lagoon and lake, alongside a beautiful beach and fun playground on the main strip of downtown Harrison Hot Springs, Sandy Cove trail provides an escape from the crowds.
When you enter Harrison Hot Springs you want to continue straight until you reach a fork at the main road. Hang a left towards the Harrison Hot Springs Resort, as that’s where you’ll be heading to get to the Sandy Cove trailhead.
Finding parking can be a bit of a challenge, especially during the busy season. There’s parking all along the main drag but it is pay parking (don’t forget this-they most certainly will ticket you, which I found out the hard way). There is also parking on the side roads, so you may want to loop around a couple of times until you find a good spot.
You have two options to reach the trailhead:
There’s a parking lot behind the Harrison Hot Springs Resort. You can head to the very back of that parking lot to find the 10 Bridges Trail (if your kids like bridges, this is the way to go- there’s 10 of ‘em!).
Keep your eyes open and up for the pump station at the top of a massively long staircase and you’ll know you’re heading in the right direction. Keep following that trail until you wind up on a gravel trail. Turn to the right towards the brick pump house (your nose will help you lead the way!)
Head along the main beach in front of the Harrison Hot Springs Resort. Keep along the gravel path until you reach the brick pump house.
Once you’ve reached the pump house continue on for approximately 50 feet until you see a sign for Sandy Cove on your left-hand side. Start heading up that way!
The first half of the hike is rocky. Literally. I told my 3-year-old what a great rock climber she is, and that boosted her ego enough to climb that mountain with confidence. It can be steep, so make sure that you’re wearing good footwear, and take it slow to make sure there are no falls.
At one point you’ll reach a fork, but it’s very well marked. In fact, there’s one sign with an arrow pointing to the trail direction, and another on the tree just past it letting you know you’ve gone the wrong way (that particular trail offshoot will just lead you to the front of a boulder and a dead end).
Once you’re at the top the trail levels out and provides much less rugged terrain. You’ll find a neat little “cave” that provides a great photo opp/water break spot.
Keep heading down the trail. There’s one spot where you can cut through and make your way down faster but it’s quite steep. If you keep going straight down on the path and around the bend you’ll enjoy a more gentle descent.
At the bottom of the loop, you’ll see a sign for heading right to Sandy Cove or left for Whippoorwill point. Take a right. When you reach the fallen over tree you can celebrate because Sandy Cove is right on the other side!
People have come here and set up some incredible structures using the driftwood. Last time we went there was a bench and a lean-to. This time, an AMAZING little house.
The kids have a blast building their own structures with the light wood pieces, playing in the sand, finding freshwater mussels, and wading in the *glacier fed-it’s cold!* water.
Head out the way you came in and then go relax in the renowned hot springs public pool which is located right on the main road coming into Harrison Hot Springs (after you get the kids their promised bribery ice cream cones, of course!).
Jellybean Rating Summary for Sandy Cove Trail
Sandy Cove Trail has a Jellybean Rating of 3/5. There are some fairly steep parts that you may need to really encourage your little guys to get up. Making sure that you’re wearing decent footwear is crucial on this hike (how I managed in flimsy flip-flops all those times as a teenager working in Harrison Hot Springs is entirely beyond me. Isn’t life funny??).
While Sandy Cove is a great place to explore don’t forget you have to head back at some point. Make sure the kids don’t exhaust themselves playing down at the beach or you may have to count on your strong shouldered friend to piggyback them back to town. It was hard to regulate their time there, as they were having an absolute blast. I should have turned back a little sooner to ensure they still had the energy to get back!