The Vancouver Trails blog covers hiking in southwest British Columbia. It provides hiking information for south western British Columbia, including Vancouver, Whistler, Squamish, Chilliwack, and more. Its mission is to get people outside and enjoying the nature surrounding Vancouver.
As of December 20, 2018, the new Seymour River Suspension Bridge is open and once again, the hiking and mountain biking trails on the east and west sides of the river are connected. This includes trails such as the Fisherman’s Trail and the hiking route connecting multiple trails known as Two Canyon Loop.
The 2018 Vancouver Trails Photo Contest saw a large number of entries, with more than 1,291 photos submitted in total, many of which were incredible shots of your outdoor adventures. The choices have been made, congratulations to this year’s winners:
The Skywalk Trails (North and South), Upper 19 Mile Creek Trail to Iceberg Lake, the trails around Screaming Cat Lake, and the Rainbow Lake Trail are all closed due to Grizzly Bear activity. It is expected that these trails will remain closed until the grizzly bears go to den.
The complete list of trail closures are as follows:
Manning Park is a Provincial Park east of Hope, BC, approximately a 2.5 – 3 hour drive from Downtown Vancouver (dependent on traffic, of course). It is home to a beautiful resort that has capacity of about one thousand, offering cabins and camping sites for a beautiful stay outdoors. The resort is open year-round, providing access to the hiking trails in the summer and snowshoe and cross-country ski routes in the winter.
I’ve stayed in Manning Park for multi-night trips (note: there is no cell service) and it is truly a remarkable part of British Columbia to be.
Hiking in the area is equally is remarkable. For your next trip to Manning Park, here are the 5 hiking trails you need to visit.
Lighting Lake Loop
The Lighting Lake Loop is a 8.5 km round trip with minimal elevation gain, and is a popular destination for people visiting Manning Park. It’s a great way to see the beauty of the area, without a strenuous day ahead of you.
The Rainbow Bridge along the Lightning Lake Loop Trail in Manning Park.
This hike loops around Lightning Lake, as the name so says. Going on a clockwise direction, the trail offers a great opportunity to move through viewpoints, like Rainbow Bridge.
Castle Creek Trail
This trail starts 3.5 km east of Manning Park Lodge, and is a 24 km return hike with an elevation gain of 200 m. This trail, starting at the Monument 78/83 parking lot, moves through views of Windy Joe Mountain, Frosty Mountain and Mount Winthrop, located in the United States.
One of the greatest parts I love about the Castle Creek Trail is that you can reach monuments indicating the Canada and United States boundary. From here, the Pacific Crest Trail continues through the US to the Mexican border. It’s a historic and very interesting path to travel, though it is important to note that hikers cannot enter the United States from Canada on the PCT, so do not attempt to move from the Castle Creek to the PCT. You can enter from the United States to Canada but an entry permit must be obtained prior to entry.
Fun fact – the Pacific Crest Trail was featured in the movie “Wild”, which was based on a true story.
Lightning Lakes Chain Trail
The Lightning Lakes Chain Trail is a 19 km round trip adventure in Manning Park, with very minimal elevation gain. You can even camp at the Strike Lake Campsite. Passing through each of the weather-related lakes – Lighting Lake, Flash Lake, Strike Lake and Thunder Lake – this is an easy, though long trail to experience.
Thunder Lake at the end of the Lightning Lakes Chain Trail in Manning Park.
The beauty of this trail is passing these lakes and enjoying the beautiful scenery that the aforementioned lakes have to offer. It is a great option for a long day in the woods, without the strenuous addition of elevation.
The Heather Trail in Manning Park is a nearly perfect backpacking experience, with amazing views, tough terrain and great facilities to use. Beautiful arrays of wildflowers pop up in the July time frame, though hiking in September still allows for incredible views to be had.
There is relatively little effort to be had when hiking this trail, although it is important to note that the duration is long – it’s about 10-12 hours one-way, and is advised to be an overnight trip for two to three nights.
The Three Brothers Mountain route along the Heather Trail.
Frosty Mountain is a difficult, challenging climb in Manning Park that will take about 8 hours for the average hiker. A 22 km round trip hike, Frosty Mountain offers spectacular views of surrounding Coastal Mountain ranges. The trail is certainly a climb and a scramble at times, though views on a clear day are some of the vest in the park.
It is worthy to note that the markers on the trail are few, while on your way back, so be sure to follow this guide along every step of the way.
The view of Mount Frosty along the trail to the top.
Manning Park is a beautiful area to visit for the weekend, or an extended stay during the week. Make the most of it with these hiking trails on your next adventure.
The North Shore Mountains have always attracted hikers willing to challenge themselves, exploring the many trails in the region that are located in such close proximity to the city.
While there are many trails that most are familiar with in and around the Cypress, Grouse, and Seymour areas, there are plenty of mountains in the backcountry that are far less traveled and known. Thanks to authours David Crerar, Harry Crerar, and Bill Maurer, they have “bagged” all of the North Shore’s mountains, collected all of their experiences, and written a book titled The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore: A Peakbagger’s Guide.
It first should be noted that this is not your typical hiking guide meant for the average hiker. There are some routes in this book that venture well into the backcountry, requiring multi-day trips, mountaineering skills, route finding skills, or all of the above. Some of these routes should only be attempted by very experienced backcountry hikers.
Secondly, what exactly is a “Peakbagger“? The idea of “peakbagging” is summiting a number of mountains in a region. It’s sort of like keeping a list of mountains and checking each one off that you’ve done.
This is one impressive book and equally impressive accomplishments by each of the authors. The 500-page book goes into great detail about each route, not just about the route itself but also in-depth history about the area.
Each peak is categorized in the book into the following North Shore regions:
Howe Sound Islands (9 peaks)
Britannia Range (23 peaks)
Grouse Mountain Area (9 peaks)
Hanes Valley Peaks (3 peaks)
Lynn Peaks (5 peaks)
Cathedral Peaks (4 peaks)
Fannin Range (14 peaks)
Each of the above sections has maps that show where the peaks are and the routes to get to them.
The book goes on and on…. there’s a “best of” section that contains lists of “Best Post-Bag Swimming Holes”, “Best Peak Routes for Old-Growth and Giant Trees”, and more. There’s a section on different fauna and geology, a section on wildlife, there’s even a section on radio repeater towers!
The final appendix in the book has several photographs of the North Shore peaks from different angles and labels each one to give a visual reference of what you’re looking at.
There’s really nothing that this book left out. Every time I open it, I discover a new section with more information that was somehow missed before. For anyone who really wants to learn about the North Shore Mountains, this is a must have book.
The BC Mountaineering Club is hosting a social on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 7:30pm at the Anza Club (3 W 8th Ave, Vancouver, BC). The authours of The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore will be presenting a slideshow, talking about their experience writing the book, answering questions, and signing the book. While the event starts at 7:30pm, it’s sure to be popular and the venue can hold a maximum of 117 people, so be sure to arrive early. You must be 19+ to enter.
The forest fire smoke has cleared in Metro Vancouver and other areas in Southwest British Columbia just in time for the Labour Day Long Weekend. If you’re staying around the city for the long weekend, here are five hiking trail options to see some great views this time of year:
St. Mark’s Summit
One of the best views of Howe Sound, follow the Howe Sound Crest Trail (HSCT) from the Cypress area as you make your way to this spectacular view. Read more
The trail to Eagle Bluffs also starts from the Cypress area and passes Cabin Lake before descending down the Baden Powell Trail to the viewpoint. Read more
Follow the trail up Mount Seymour, passing the first and second peaks, and ending at the top where the views towards Vancouver and into the backcountry are spectacular. Read more
Located behind Grouse Mountain, you can choose to hike the Grind or take the Gondola to the top before hiking into the backcountry to Goat Mountain. Read more
Loop around the Buntzen Lake area by following the Diez Vistas up past several viewpoints overlooking Indian Arm. Read more
As of August 16, 2018, there are nearly 600 forest fires burning in British Columbia and most of the Province is under an Air Quality Warning and a Campfire Ban. Fires, or the threat of a fire, have closed trails in several popular areas including Whyte Lake in West Vancouver and Cultus Lake in Chilliwack.
Please do not light a campfire and ensure to take cigarette butts with you and remove them from the trail. Losing our forests is too great a cost.
Here are some photos of the forest fire smoke in popular hiking areas:
Share your trail experiences in the comments for each trail or using the #vancouvertrails hashtag on social media.
If you’re into beer and hiking, then this is the book for you. Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest features a curated list of hiking trails in southwestern British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon that are located near some micro-breweries, perfect for that after-hike bevy.
The book features several trails from the Vancouver, BC, region including popular hikes like the Diez Vistas, Whistler Train Wreck, Abby Grind, and more. Each hike is appropriated “paired” with a nearby brewery so you can enjoy a post-hike beer after completing the trail.
Written by the Beers At The Bottom team of Brandon Fralic and Rachel Wood, the project turned into a 4-year adventure, exploring some of the Pacific Northwest’s favourite hikes and breweries.
“Beers at the Bottom was conceived on a rainy April afternoon in Bellingham’s beloved Village Books. We noticed an overwhelming quantity and variety of books dedicated to walking in the woods. A nearby bookcase of local food and drink books sparked the idea of pairing trails and ales”, says cofounder Brandon Fralic. “Because there’s nothing better than a cold, frothy pint after a long day of hiking.”
A page out of Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest. The Cape Kiwanda Trail is along the Oregon Coast.
While many locals may have already completed the local Vancouver-area hiking trails, there are plenty of trails in the book from Washington and Oregon, offering a good starting point to exploring trails south of the border.
When you plan for a weekend hike in Greater Vancouver Area, many residents and visitors to Vancouver will point to the North Shore mountains. They’re the most visible when arriving to the city via air, provide a handy compass direction for locals who navigate through town, and offer some majestic beauty that is easily accessible from the city.
Yet, traveling East down the Highway 1 provides hikers with equally beautiful trails to adventure through, with terrain that differs from the North Shore. Travelling down this direction leads us to the city of Chilliwack, the seventh largest city in British Columbia.
Chilliwack has traditionally been an agriculture community, though has altered over time as city-dwellers have opted for the beauty of the countryside. Located 100km from Vancouver, the city is a day trip away from the hustle and bustle and into an area rich with outdoor activities. Trails in this area have picked up in popularity over the last decade, though are still relatively untouched when compared to other well-used trails in the GVRD and Fraser Valley.
If you’re searching for new soft ground to adventure through, here are the 5 best hiking trails in Chilliwack.
A 7KM round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 800 meters, the top of Elk Mountain provides remarkable views of Chilliwack, Cultus Lake and the Fraser Valley area. Beginning with a wide trail that is smooth and not technical, the hike leads you over a wooden bridge, a gravel service road, steep climbs and into rootier scrambles with challenging footing It provides a little bit of everything, with a reward once you reach the top.
Note: July is toadlet season! Thousands of toadlets will be migrating across Elk Road during this month, so be sure to watch for detour signs along the way.
The view from Elk Mountain.
A relatively short, easy trail that can be fun for the whole family (just be prepared for two hours on your feet). The Teapot Hill Trail is 250 meters in elevation gain covering 5KM. It’s located right next to Cultus Lake, which could be part of a weekend adventure in the Fraser Valley area. Mixed terrain with one short, steep hill offer two distinct viewpoints, one viewing Cultus Lake and the other into United States.
The Teapot Hill Trail
Mount Cheam is another spectacular hike in the Chilliwack area. With a round-trip distance of 9.5KM and an elevation gain of 700 meters, it too offers spectacular views of the Fraser Valley region. 360 views at the top make for plenty of Instagram-worthy photos – just be sure to wear dependable footing and carry plenty of water and food when embarking on this trail. It includes plenty of switchbacks and hikers need to take extreme caution when nearing the edge of some areas of this trail. Switchbacks cut into the mountainside, and is only advisable to hike from about July to October.
Note: Accessing this trail will require an off-road or 4×4 vehicle with high clearance. It’s not an easy route to get to, and should be done safely.
The top of Mount Cheam.
Seven Sisters Trail
The Seven Sisters Trail is similar to Teapot Hill, in that it is a relatively short, easy hike that can be fun for the family. This trail – Seven Sisters – is 3KM in distance and has an elevation gain of just 70. It’s another beautiful hike in the Cultus Lake area, leading to a grove of old douglas fir trees. Although this particular trail does not offer views like the others I have adventured through on this list, the sheer size and awe of these trees are sure to impress.
The Seven Sisters Trail near Cultus Lake
Slesse Memorial Trail
The Slesse Memorial Trail was named to commemorate the Trans-Canada Airlines Flight 810, a flight that was en route from Vancouver to Calgary and sadly crashed in 1956. A memorial plaque and propellor are positioned on this trail, remembering those who passed.
The view of Mount Slesse from the memorial.
This trail is 12KM round-trip, taking approximately 6 hours as an intermediate hike. With plenty of climbing comes views from the peak – Propeller Cairn. This peak offers viewing points toward Mount Slesse, south into the United States and along the Coast Mountain range. It’s a worthwhile venture and a sure day trip from Vancouver.
Note: Accessing this trail will require an off-road or 4×4 vehicle with high clearance. It’s not an easy route to get to, and should be done safely.
Chilliwack offers many beautiful trails to explore, with varying levels of difficulty. From steep climbs to worthwhile viewpoints, this city in the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia has plenty of adventure.