The Bluffs Park Nature Protection area —— named for the magnificent 300ft shoreline ‘bluffs’ located there —- was created in 1948 through a land donation by Max and Marion Enke (there is a plaque located in the Park commemorating this) and the financial donations of many islanders. The area above the bluffs had already been a most popular hiking/picnicing destination for decades. Comprising approximately 139 hectares (342 acres) of green space —- forest, cliff and meadow ecosystems —- the Park has been under the guardianship of the Galiano Club since a Deed of Trust was agreed-to in 1951.
Originally the Park was created with two sections. One, the area surrounding the bluffs, was set aside for recreational use. A second section, further inland, allowed for selective logging as a source of lumber for community building projects. The island’s 1st Fire Hall was constructed using lumber from Bluffs Park. However, in 1988, increasing public awareness of the need to preserve forest lands, encouraged the Galiano Club to disallow future logging within any area of the Park, to have the land rezoned as a Nature Protection Area.
The viewpoint, a wide open area just above the actual bluffs, looks on to Active Pass, over the nearby southern Gulf Islands and, beyond to the high ridges of Vancouver Is. On a clear day one can see the snow-capped Olympic Mountains of the northern USA.
Hikers/walkers can access the Park via the Sturdies Bay Trail managed by the Galiano Island Parks & Recreation Commission(GIPRC). There are many short trails, all under a mixed forest canopy, throughout the park for the use of hikers/walkers only; several connect with the popular viewpoint area, a splendid site for a picnic, for photo-taking, for contemplation.
The Park contains many magnificent tree specimens of Douglas Fir, Arbutus, Western Red Cedar, Big-Leaf Maple, Hemlock. A significant grove of Garry Oak trees exists along the viewpoint’s rocky edge. Black-tailed deer are frequent browsers in the Park. Eagles, turkey vultures are regularly seen soaring the wind currents above the bluffs while Orcas, humpback whales commonly traverse Active Pass below.
A three-side log structure with a corrugated metal roof was constructed in 1950 by islander & skilled axe-man, Fritz Revelj, as a weather shelter at the lookout area. This building became a favourite stop for Park visitors with many leaving behind their initials carved into the wood walls. A winter storm in 2016 much damaged the structure’s roof and exposed seriously weakened walls. The decision was made to remove the roof and to lower the walls to the level now seen.
The Japanese Charcoal Pit Kiln(see Info article elsewhere) is about a 7 minute walk from the viewpoint. Also within walking distance is the adjacent CRD-managed Matthews Point Regional Park & its wide sandy beach.
Bluff Road bisects the Park and is connected to the main thoroughfare of Georgeson Bay Road, the access route for cyclists, motorized vehicles. A small vehicle parking area exists adjacent to the viewpoint. For visitors with limited mobility the incredible viewpoint scenery is accessible to all vehicle passengers from this parking area. An Info Panel is located there, map included, which explains much about the Park’s human history & its several ecosystems.
Maps and Information
Visit this webpage for a community inventory of species known to Bluffs Park, which provides a snapshot of the diversity found across a spectrum of habitats, including oldgrowth Douglas-fir forests, wetlands, woodlands and associated rock outcrop communities.
In 2018 a 7 member committee was created by the Galiano Club Board to create a Management Plan for the Bluffs. After a year of meetings & consultations the following Draft Plan was presented to the Board & was accepted. The Draft Plan was subsequently offered @ the 2019 AGM where it was not. This Draft Plan continues to be studied & used by the Parks/Forest Cttee.