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.
Buntzen Lake, located just one hour from Downtown Vancouver, is home to multi-recreation activities for everyone, from families to solo hikers, those looking for a relaxing afternoon to active adventurists who are searching to test their limits. The lake, originally used to power Vancouver’s first hydroelectric plant in the early 1900s, has since turned into a Summer destination for locals and tourists alike.
Hiking is a significant draw for such locals and tourists to Buntzen Lake, primarily because there is so much diversity to the trails. Whether you’re the family or solo hiker, as above, I’ve compiled my top 6 things I love about hiking at Buntzen Lake.
1. There are viewpoints everywhere
When hiking around Buntzen Lake, whether you’re doing the entire 10KM loop or partially exploring the Buntzen Lake Trail, there are viewpoints wherever you look. Hiking this trail means that you will closely follow the lake for much of the route, veering away into the forest for some steep climbs and enjoyable descents before heading back toward the lake and through junctions.
2. You can spend an entire day on these trails
The Sendero Diez Vistas is a great trail that will take you out on your feet for most of the day. It’s a 15km round trip adventure that begins at the main Buntzen Lake parking lot and takes you through the Buntzen area, offering incredible scenery that overlooks Indian Arm along the way. Take your camera.
The Dilly Dally Loop is another great option that is 25km in length and offers plenty of blood-pumping climbs and descents. Be warned – this route is for the very experienced. Your hamstrings will feel the effort tomorrow!
3. It’s fun for the family, too
While there are plenty of options for experienced hikers searching for a challenging day on the trails, rest assured there are also options for families. When in the parking lot, moving clockwise starting from the southwest end of the lot will move you through to the Floating Bridge. Turning around at this point can give your little ones time to stretch their legs and explore the outdoors.
4. Cool off in the lake after a challenging hike
After you’ve completed a 10km hike, or perhaps you’ve been adventurous and embarked on the Dilly Dally Loop, you’ll very likely be ready for a dip in the lake.
Thankfully, Buntzen Lake is open to swimmers. The water is quite cold, so you might want to pack a wetsuit.
5. You can bring your dog with you
I have two little ones, so I call them – my two dogs. When I hike I take them wherever I can, so it’s important to check my destination trails in advance. Thankfully, Buntzen allows your four-legged friends on all trails, as long as they are on a leash on most tracks.
Note: Buntzen Lake offers an off-leash dog beach area with one designated off-leash trail nearby.
6. It’s a great area to run and train in
There are plenty of fabulous trail races around Buntzen Lake, from the 5 Peaks Buntzen Lake run to the more challenging Diez Vista 50KM. If you’re a trail runner and you’ve signed up for a race like this, you’ve come to the best possible place to train – on the race course!
I love Buntzen Lake for the variety of recreation activities, from hiking to swimming and mountain biking in between. If you’re ready to explore this area, I’ll let you in on a secret – get there early. The parking lot can get very busy, so snag yourself a spot before you embark on the trails above.
Nobody expects to become lost or injured when they set out on a day-hike close to the city. The mountainous terrain around Vancouver is often underestimated as many trails are situated in a backcountry wilderness setting just a mere few kilometres from urban areas.
We’ve created a Hiking Safety Infographic with 5 Tips for being prepared for a day-hike near Vancouver. By no means does this infographic include all precautions, it is meant to provide some tips for common themes that seem to occur each year with hikers who are unprepared for their outing.
Anyone planning to go for a hike should take the 10 Essentials and refer to the AdventureSmart website for further information about outdoor safety. Being properly prepared will go a long ways in helping ensure you have a safe hike, are able to survive in case of trouble, and put less of a burden on the local Search and Rescue agencies.
1. Tell Someone Where You are Going and When You Expect To Be Back
All entries must be submitted through the Vancouver Trails website by Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 6pm PDT. Photos must be hiking or camping related and have been taken in British Columbia. Preference will be given to photos taken in Vancouver or the Southwestern Region of British Columbia. Read complete contest rules here.
Carrying on the tradition in the series, Stephen Hui’s 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia highlights several of the many great hikes in the region. The trails included are meant as day-hikes from Vancouver and range in hiking time from 3 hours up 12 hours with a varying degree of difficult but leaning more towards the intermediate hiker and up.
The book includes many of the classics, such as Garibaldi Lake and the Stawamus Chief Mountain. There were a number of trails from previous editions that have not been well maintained and have been removed leading to several new additions, including Watersprite Lake, the Mount Currie Trail, and the Skywalk Trails. Three trails from the Victoria area have been added as well as a few from the Bellingham area and Anacortes and San Juan Islands in the United States.
Each trail contains details of the hike and a description where attention has been taken to include the First Nation names of many of the geographic areas and features. Thanks to Steve Chapman, the topographical trail maps are greatly improved over previous editions, including more local details and a consistent “north” to either the top or side of the page.
A couple of other notable guest contributions to the book are Coquitlam Search and Rescue’s own Michael Coyle’s Being Prepared, which talks about how to keep yourself safe in the outdoors, and Forest and the Femme’s, Jaime Adams’ Ethical Hiking, a piece on the principals of Leave No Trace. Both of these important topics were well written and nice additions to the book.
105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia is available at most local bookstores, outdoor stores and online. Keep an eye on Stephen’s site for several upcoming speaking events.
For a history on the 105 / 103 Hikes books, check out Happiest Outdoor’s blog post which talks about all of the editions beginning from the first published in 1973.
Whether you live on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, or you travel from Metro Vancouver to explore the great outdoors during the Summer, this outdoor playground in our very own backyard is filled with plenty of mountains, ocean views, creeks and more to explore. Weekend hiking on Sunshine Coast trails is ideal for everyone from the sometimes-hiker to the avid adventurer, searching for a day in the forest or a leg burning challenge.
The Sunshine Coast, which stretches 180 km along the Salish Sea from Howe Sound to Desolation Sound, is perfect for a weekend adventure. A short trip on the BC Ferries from the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal to Langdale offers beautiful scenery to set the stage for your weekend away.
If your adventure bug ready to explore this beautiful region of British Columbia, read on.
Here are my four favourite Sunshine Coast trails to put on your bucket list this Summer.
Porpoise Bay Provincial Park is found just north of Sechelt. The trails in this area are quite short in distance and overall duration (about 30-40 minutes round trip). I love Porpoise Bay as a post-lunch or pre-dinner hike, as it’s short enough to sneak in a quick trek through the forest before a meal, yet it still provides incredible views to take in as part of your weekend away. Bonus: There’s a campsite within the park, so you can head to the trails daily, if you wish.
The view of Porpoise Bay north of Sechelt.
From a short hike to an intermediate leg burner, Mount Daniel is for those of us who are searching for a challenging, yet rewarding adventure on the Sunshine Coast.
Sunrise from the top of Mount Daniel.
Mount Daniel is a popular hike in this area, and provides rewarding views. The climb offers a total ascent of 440 metres (1443 feet). It’s certainly that – a climb – yet achievable with a base level of fitness. Once hikers reach the top of Mount Daniel, the view overlooks Pender Harbour and surrounding mountains and ocean.
This area is truly special in First Nations history. Legend has that the mountain was used as a passage area for young women who were entering into adulthood. Ancient circles of rocks were used for meditation by First Nations women – sometimes, you can see remnants of these moonstones, if you look hard enough.
While an easy hike in terms of the single track ground to Triangle Lake, prepare to spend about 2-3 hours round-trip. Triangle Lake is especially unique for those who love the beauty of the rainforest that our West Coast offers. All sorts of trees, fungi and florals just thrive on this trail, with so many colors, shapes and sizes to view.
The beautiful west coast rainforest along the trail to Triangle Lake.
This trail offers a combination of soft paths with some rocky, single track scrambles that make for a fun few hours on your feet. You’ll reach the lake at about 3 km, at which point you’ll realize that Triangle Lake is not really a lake, but more of a bog and a true wetland staple. Or perhaps you’ll read this blog and impress your fellow hikers as they curiously look at the ‘lake’ upon them.
Pack plenty of snacks and hydration for this hike, as you’re sure to stop plenty of times and enjoy the scenery around you.
Another intermediate hike, yet shorter in duration and distance, is Pender Hill. At just 2 km in round-trip distance, Pender Hill is a short, yet steep hike that also offers remarkable reviews – just like Mount Daniel.
The start of the trail to Pender Hill.
I love this hike partially because of the beautiful flowers you can find growing on the rock ledges. Violas, Shooting Stars, Mimulus and more. The dry and rocky climb to the top (depending on the weather, of course) makes the display of floral beauty just that much more impressive. Wipe your brow once you reach the top and enjoy the view of Pender Harbour below.
The Sunshine Coast is filled with incredible long hikes, short climbs and intermediate day trips that are sure to suit any hiker or adventurer. If you’ve never explored this area of our beautiful province, be sure to put this on your bucket list this Summer and venture into the Sunshine Coast trails.
Located along the mighty Fraser River, Alexandra Bridge served as an important link connecting the Cariboo region to Fort Langley. Today, the old Alexandra Bridge (the 2nd one built) provides a place for visitors to the area to stop and see an important piece of history in the area while also enjoying the incredible views of the Fraser Canyon.
Alexandra Bridge along the Fraser Canyon.
Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park has several picnic tables and outhouses. The trail to the bridge is about 500-metres each direction, with a gradual decline. The trail follows part of the old road before the modern day highway was built.
The Nlaka’pamux and Sto:lo First Nations have lived for thousands of years along the Fraser Canyon. There is evidence that an early bridge was built by local First Nations as a way to access important fishing areas along the Fraser.
There were plans in the 1840’s to connect New Caledonia with Fort Langley. New Caledonia refers to the central and northern section of current day British Columbia before BC became a Province in 1871. The area was a district of the Hudson’s Bay Company, used for fur trading, and the original need was to build a trail connecting this region to Fort Langley, which was an important trading and shipping hub at the time.
In 1858, a ferry service was established that connected the east and west shores to be used throughout the Gold Rush era. With more people flocking to the area during this period, it was a clear that a bridge was needed.
View of the Alexandra Bridge from the west side of the Fraser River.
Led by Joseph Trutch, the first road bridge was constructed in 1861 and was part of the Cariboo Wagon Road that stretched from Yale to Barkerville. The construction of the road through the Fraser Canyon was a difficult task and, at the time, a major engineering feat. Much of the difficult and dangerous work along the route was done by First Nations and Chinese workers, many who lost their lives. The bridge was named after Princess Alexandra of Wales.
The Fraser Flood of 1894 destroy the original bridge and the structure was never rebuilt. In the 1880’s, the Canadian Pacific Railway was built through the treacherous sections of the Fraser Canyons and several sections of the Cariboo Wagon Road were used for the tracks.
In the 1920’s, the rise of the automobile saw the Province of British Columbia invest in the construction of the new Cariboo Highway through the Fraser Canyon. The second Alexandra Bridge was built across the river, enabling vehicle traffic to pass through the area. The suspension bridge is still the same one that exists today today, although it was closed to traffic in 1964 after the Ministry of Transportation built the third Alexandra Bridge.
A view from the Alexadra Bridge looking down the Fraser River towards the modern-day highway bridge.
Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park was established in 1984 to provide access to the second bridge. The park provides a timely location for a rest along the driving route through the Fraser Canyon and the trail is just 500-metres in each direction. The bridge provides some magnificent views of the rugged canyon below as well as the steep cliffs that makeup the area.
Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park is located about 40km north of Hope and only 2km north of Spuzzum, just beyond the large bridge over the Fraser River. There is a fairly large parking lot, although the park can get busy during the summer months when many travelers pass through the area.
The Grouse Grind will open at 6:15am, Wednesday, May 2nd for the start of the 2018 summer season. Hikers should expect some snow near the upper portions of the trail but will be able to hike to the top of Grouse Mountain and take the Skyride Gondola back down. The trail will be open until 6:00pm daily but the closing times will change throughout the summer as day-light hours become longer and again, when the day-light hours shorten.
The Grind will be open for about 3 weeks in May and then will be closed again so that Metro Vancouver crews can make several upgrades and improvements to the trail.
The Grouse Grind is a 2.9km trail that climbs steeply over a 853 meter elevation gain for the bottom of the Grouse Mountain Skyride to the top. The trail is known as “Vancouver’s Stairmaster” and is a very challenging route.
If you do not have a season’s pass, a reminder to bring money to purchase a ticket to come back down the Gondola. Don’t forget to bring adequate water and snacks.
The following is a list of trails that are currently known to be snow-free. Note that conditions can change quite quickly and we will try to update this list as soon as we hear otherwise. Always check the weather conditions before you go and other sources, such as the trail comments on Vancouver Trails.
A hike through one of the Vancouver area’s most scenic rainforest, the trails in Capilano Canyon pass the Capilano Salmon Hatchery, Cleveland Dam, and several ancient Douglas Fir trees that are some of the largest trees in the area. Read more
Enjoy a day trip to Bowen Island and hike from the ferry terminal through Crippen Regional Park, looping around Killarney Lake before returning. Read more
Jug Island Beach
Located near the community of Belcarra, the hike to Jug Island is a good workout as it climbs through the forest before eventually descending down to the beach area along the shores of Indian Arm. Read more
Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver has some of the best coastal views as you hike to different viewpoints that lookout across the inlet towards UBC and downtown Vancouver. Read more
Minnekhada Regional Park
There are several trails that loop around Minnekhada Regional Park and include the steep trail up to the High Knoll that provides a beautiful view of the park area. Read more
Pitt Lake Wildlife Loop
The trails along Pitt Lake follow the dikes from Grant Narrows as you make your way out into the open, then loop through some of the overgrown trails while checking out several viewpoints. Read more
One of the North Shore’s most popular trail, the heart pumping hike leaves Deep Cove and climbs steeply, making its way through the forest, across several beautiful streams, before reaching the rocky outcrop with a view of Indian Arm. Read more
Whippoorwill Point Trail
A scenic 4km roundtrip hike from the town of Harrison that passes a secluded beach before looping around the Whippoorwill Point area and offering occasional views of the Harrison River. Read more
British Columbia’s first grassroots provincial advocacy platform for non-motorized backcountry recreation and conservation launched today. Backcountrybc.ca is a free online space for all non-motorized backcountry users to discuss their issues, advocate for better access, new places to explore, and new trails and huts that everyone can enjoy.
Backcountrybc was also built to serve as an online library for provincial documents and trails. It also offers powerful mapping, gps and trip planning tools.
Join backcountrybc.ca today. Share and contribute your thoughts, opinions, knowledge and experience, and help the outdoor recreation community achieve the goals of improved access, more and improved trails, and better protection for wilderness areas.
It is time for outdoor and wilderness adventurers to come together and make a difference for the hikers, backcountry skiers, mountain bikers, snowshoers, mountaineers and climbers of today, and for all those who will follow us in the future.
The 2017 Vancouver Trails Photo Contest saw a record number of entries, with more than 1,400 photos submitted, many of which were incredible. The choices have been made, congratulations to this year’s winners: