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Garden Bay Lake is located just off the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada. The Lake is one of four that rest along the edges of Pender Harbour. The lake is a pristine body of water surrounded by tree-covered mountains that were rounded by glaciers sliding over the area thousands of years ago.
Though the surrounding area is picturesque, Garden Bay Lake and the nearby village of the same name were not dubbed Garden Bay because of the beautiful gardens. In fact, the name origin is a little more ordinary: a government surveyor name Mr. Garden was assigned to mapping and naming the area; hence Garden Bay, Garden Bay Lake and Garden Bay Road. No one knows if he had a boundless ego or a limited imagination.
To get to the Village of Garden Bay on the Sechelt Peninsula, you must pass by Garden Bay Lake. It is a beautiful sight to see -- nearly half of the shoreline of the lake, the northern and western sides to be exact, is visible from Garden Bay Road. There are homes on the lake, with some real estate for sale and several cottages available for vacation rentals.
Picnic and rustic camping areas are available nearby at Katherine Lake Regional Park. Katherine Lake, in Madeira Park, is the smallest of the four lakes that surround Pender Harbour and has a sandy beach perfect for folks looking to take a dip. Back at Garden Bay Lake, only electric motors and human-powered boats are allowed on the water, promising more great swimming. The lake is also a popular spot for canoeing and fishing. Garden Bay Lake is one of the three lakes that make up the eight-mile long Pender Harbour and Three Lakes Circle Canoe Route. Access to the route is on Garden Bay Road.
Garden Bay Lake is stocked with cutthroat trout. The best months to reel in a big fish story are April through July and September to October. Salmon fishing is also a hot ticket in the Garden Bay area. Many anglers spend the day on the village's dock facilities. John Daly Regional Park in the village of Madeira Park is another spot to try to reel in a delicious salmon. The nearly three-acre park has a grassy meadow for picnics next to the salmon wintering pond. John Daly Regional Park is also home to one of the most productive salmon creeks on Sunshine Coast. The best time to see spawning salmon is from late September through December.
Another way to enjoy the beauty of the Garden Bay Lake area is on foot. A web of trails covers Pender Harbour -- the Pender Hill trail scales 758 feet, taking hikers above Irvines Landing and offers vistas overlooking Pender Harbour. It is a moderately difficult two-mile trek. A brisk 30-minute walk will get you to the highest point. The Mount Daniel trail is also moderately difficult and challenges hikers with steep grades. Mount Daniel crests at 1375 feet and is five miles long. The Mount Daniel Trial winds its way above Garden Bay. The journey takes about an hour and a half. Your reward for reaching the top is a panoramic view of the lakes of Pender Harbour.
The closest park to Garden Bay Lake is the 403-acre Garden Bay Provincial Marine Park, which touches the eastern tip of the lake. Mount Daniel is a part of the park. Black bears call the upland areas home and deer and cougars can also be found in the park. The park is mostly undeveloped, largely due to the wildlife and archeological sites. There is evidence that the top of Mount Daniel was used by the Sechelt First Nation as the site of ceremonial puberty rites. Burial markers from an Indian burial ground can be found at the southern end of the park along the shore of Garden Bay. Both the mountaintop and waterfront areas are protected archeological sites.
Spipiyus Provincial Park is also close to Garden Bay Lake. Also called Caren Range, Spipiyus is located north of Halfmoon Bay on the Sechelt Peninsula. The park protects old-growth forest, and habitat for the marbled murrelet, a small seabird. Hikers can trek up Mount Hallowell for views of the islands and fjords of Pender Harbour, the Strait of Georgia and Vancouver Island. The Old Fire Lookout Tower at Mount Hallowell is a great place to watch for wildlife. The park is home to black bear, Roosevelt elk, marbled murrelets, various birds and other small mammals can be found in the park as well. Cycling is allowed on the existing logging roads. Hunting is permitted during game hunting season, regulations do apply.
Garden Bay Lake boarders Pender Harbour, the main community made up of four unique villages: Kleindale, Garden Bay, Irvines Landing and Madeira Park; the area's combined population is 2,374. Forestry, fishing and tourism are how most residents make their living. Kleindale and Madeira Park offer shops and unique artists' galleries. Irvines Landing was the home of one of Pender Harbour's first settlers, and Garden Bay was the location of Sunshine Coast's first hospital.
The area offers a beautiful setting for outdoor fun and an eclectic mix of shops. You can also spend some of your off-water time, if it strikes your fancy, on the links. The Sunshine Coast and Pender Harbour boast a number of golf courses. The topography provides a challenging and beautiful setting to play 18 holes. Another off-water jaunt is the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives. Exhibits document early life on the Sunshine Coast and Garden Bay Lake, maritime history and the area's natural history. The museum is in Gibsons Landing, just 10 minutes from the ferries you need to take to get from the mainland to the Sunshine Coast.
Garden Bay Lake and the Sunshine Coast are exceptional year-round vacation destinations. The climate is mild; on average there are only 11 days when temperatures dip below freezing. Summers are warm and dry. Winters are mild and rainy, but not that rainy -- the Sunshine Coast lives up to its name. It is the sunniest spot in British Columbia and second only to Victoria Airport. The social climate is sunny as well; the laid-back personality of Garden Bay Lake and the villages of Pender Harbour make this a relaxing destination for your next vacation.
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