At 107 hectares, the Mount Artaban Nature Reserve is the single largest Islands Trust Fund protected area to date. The reserve links with neighbouring local, regional and provincial parks and protected areas, including the Brigade Bay Bluffs and Long Bay Wetland Nature Reserves, to form a continuous protected area of 525 hectares - an area 30% larger than Vancouver's Stanley Park.
This rugged reserve protects a maturing forest including some trees near the summit that are over a century old. The water flowing from the pristine landscape provides clean drinking water for surrounding communities and feeds aquatic habitats below. Bald Eagles are often seen in the skies above the nature reserve, and Steller's Jays, Rufous Hummingbirds and Blue Grouse inhabit the forest.
First Nations use and occupancy of Gambier Island dates back many thousands of years. Brigade Bay, to the north of Mount Artaban was once a safe haven and camp site for First Nations travelling in Howe Sound. The area surrounding the bay was known among the Squamish Nation for deer hunting and plant gathering.
Mount Artaban takes its name from the nearby Anglican Camp Artaban which in turn was named after a character in Henry Van Dyke's The Story of the Other Wise Man. The camp was established in 1923. Archived BC Forest Service records show that the entire reserve area was burned by a human-caused fire in 1922. Stumps with spring-board notches indicate that some of the reserve was logged pre-World War II, and tree core samples taken today show that most of the forests originated between 1938 and 1940. A fire lookout tower was established at the summit of Mount Artaban in 1957 and was probably one of the first Forest Service fire towers to be pre-fabricated off-site and lifted to the site by helicopter.
Since before World War II, Mount Artaban has long been a popular hiking destination. The property was held as Provincial Crown Land for many years, and was transferred in 2008 to the Islands Trust Conservancy through the Sponsored Crown Grant Program. To satisfy the province's conditions for the transfer, the Islands Trust Conservancy partnered with the Gambier Island Conservancy to fundraise more than $40,000 to cover the costs of the property survey and a management plan. Contributions from more than 80 individuals, businesses, and community groups helped protect the mountain.
A prominent landmark in Howe Sound and visible from the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Mount Artaban has long been a popular destination for hikers. At 614 metres (2014 feet), the summit offers spectacular views of Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains. Visitors can hike the entire protected area network surrounding Mount Artaban by starting at the trailhead in Long Bay Wetland Nature Reserve (near Brigade Bay subdivision), hiking up to the summit, and down to Camp Fircom via Halkett Bay Provincial Park. At times, the trail is rugged and steep. Please remain on established trails for your own safety, and to preserve the sensitive ecosystems this reserve protects.
Camping is not permitted on Mount Artaban or within the nature reserve boundaries. Hunting and motorized vehicles are not permitted.