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.
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:
Many people who live in BC fall prey to our mountains charms at some point. They are stunningly beautiful after all! And, quickly, most active individuals figure out that the best way to experience our province’s mountainous beauty is by taking a hike. Luckily, BC is littered with trails and the choices seem endless when you are a novice hiker.
However, if you have been hiking for a few years and are getting bored of the crowded classics like Garibaldi Lake and the Stawamus Chief you might just be in the market for something a little bigger and a little badder.
Here are four stunning hikes that will push you out of your comfort zone and get you deeper into BC’s rugged backcountry.
(These routes should only be attempted by experienced hikers who are properly equipped with route finding skills and have the necessary technical equipment)
Frosty Mountain is the tallest peak in Manning Provincial Park. Ring in at an impressive 2,400 meters, the view from the summit is unparalleled.
This hike starts in typical BC fashion with a series of switchbacks up through an old growth forest. The switchbacks conclude at an old mining cabin which marks the approximate halfway point. Beyond the cabin, you will break into the alpine.
After a few kilometers of trekking through the alpine, you will reach a rock wall. This is where the hike gets interesting. To reach the peak you will need to scramble up the rock wall to the false summit. Then continue along a ridge until you reach a second scrambling section. Once you have killed this final climb you will be standing at 2,400 meters above sea level.
With 360 degree views over the coastal and interior mountain ranges, you get an Everest-like feeling on top of Frosty Mountain that is unrivaled.
Total Distance – 22 km (round trip from Lightning Lakes) Estimated Time – 9 hours Elevation Gain – 1,158 m
A post shared by Tim (@eppicphotos) on Aug 27, 2017 at 5:38pm PDT
Needle Peak is one of the most prominent mountains along the Coquihalla Highway. Its distinctive triangle top and sharp ridgeline make it stand out amongst its more rounded neighbors.
The initial hike up this mountain is steep. BC steep; aka there are no helpful switchbacks. But, it only takes about 60 minutes to break out of the forest and out into the rock carpeted alpine. Here you can pick your way past small tarns, struggling pines, and moss covered rocks. It is a beautiful place to snap group Instagram’s!
Finally, after making your way through the alpine you will reach the scrambling section. Keep to the middle of the ridge and go slow. Once you reach the summit you will be treated to views of the entire Coquihalla region and on clear day views out to Mt. Baker.
Total Distance – 13 km (round trip) Estimated Time – 6 hours Elevation Gain – 882 m
Vicuna & Guanaco Peaks
If you are looking for something completely off the beaten path and to have a trail all to yourself then you need to hike Vicuna & Guanaco Peaks. These twin summits in the Thompson Okanagan region of BC are remote. Route finding skills are necessary as the trail is not well used and finding your way out of the alpine can take some work. However, the views from the col and peaks are worth the effort.
This trail starts with a long walk down an alder infested deactivated logging road. Then it’s a steep climb up a slippery pine needle bedded trail before you reach a swampy meadow. Watch where you put your feet! This meadow will suck up a hiking boot without difficulty. Finally, just when you have had enough of mud, mosquitoes, and general this hike, the trail will end and the meadow will open up. The col between Vicuna and Guanaco now visible.
In no particular order, head up to the col. Once there you have some options. First, you can summit either of the peaks. Vicuna is towards the South (hikers left) and Guanaco is towards the East (hikers right). Or you can summit both. If you plan to climb both peaks I would suggest conquering Vicuna first. It is the more technical and exposed scramble and will require lots of physical and mental energy. Guanaco, on the other hand, is a less exposed and simpler scramble.
The views from either peak showcase the regions jagged ridges and remoteness. But, the view from Guanaco highlights the district granite horn that is Vicuna Peak and generally yields more epic summit photos.
Total Distance – 7 km (round trip from parking area to the col) Estimated Time – 6 plus hours Elevation Gain – 912 m (from Coldwater Road to the col)
A post shared by @mcauleyjessie on Aug 15, 2017 at 7:43pm PDT
Thanks to the Sea to Sky Gondola this elusive peak is now an easily accessible day trip. Before the gondola, hikers would have to trek for hours up decommissioned logging roads to reach the base of this climb.
This hike should only be completed if you are properly equipped as the route to the top involves a glacier climb and very exposed scrambling. The views, however, are as beautiful as the trail is technical.
Starting at the top of the gondola you will trek up an old logging road bed and then follow a waterfall up to the base of the glacier. At the glacier, you should pop on your crampons and helmet, and have your ice ax at the ready.
Up the glacier, you will climb until you reach the ridge. Here the scrambling starts. Over and over large boulders, you will climb until you reach the infamous pink slab. An almost sheer slab of granite, you will need to cross to reach the peak. The final test this mountain throws at you is a series of exposed ledges and gullies. Once these are conquered, you will be standing on the summit overlooking the entire Sea to Sky Region.
Total Distance – 10 km (round trip from gondola to the base of Sky Pilot) Estimated Time – 6 plus hours Elevation Gain – 380 m (from gondola to the base of Sky Pilot)
Do you have any hiking or climbing goals for this summer? What mountains do you want to conquer? Leave a comment below.
If you’re new to hiking or have littles ones with you, here’s 10 of the best hikes around Vancouver and the lower mainland area for beginners. From urban city hikes to the surrounding provincial parks, you’ll find something here to get you out on the trails, even if it’s your very first time! Not sure what to pack for a day hike? Check out this packing list of essentials.
Pacific Spirit Regional Park
A beautiful forest trail in Pacific Spirit Regional Park.
One of Vancouver’s gems, this west side park in the city encompasses 750 hectares of forest. Numerous trails crisscross your way around the park with various entry and exit points. It’s the perfect place to get “lost in the woods” just minutes away from the city. Pacific Spirit Regional Park Trail Details
Deer Lake in Burnaby with Metrotown in the distance.
Enjoy a flat easy stroll around this lake located just east of Vancouver in Burnaby. Up to five kilometres of trail circle the lake and pass by a beach area, playground, viewing tower and pier offering great scenery. A perfect place for an afternoon stroll that is accessible year round. Deer Lake Trail Details
A view from Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver.
Located in West Vancouver, Lighthouse Park is one of Greater Vancouver’s most beautiful spots with some of the area’s largest Douglas Fir trees and breathtaking views of the water. Stroll around the six kilometres of trails throughout the park before settling in for a picnic lunch at the beach. Lighthouse Park Trail Details
The floating bridge that crosses Sasamat Lake.
Head out to Belcarra Park to stretch your legs on this easy, year-round accessible hike that is perfect for family picnics. The trail around the lake is a flat, well-worn three kilometre path. If you’re looking for a slightly longer route, you can extend the hike around the Woodhaven Swamp area for a total of eight kilometres round trip. If the weather’s nice, enjoy a dip in the lake and some time at the beach when you’re done. Sasamat Lake Trail Details.
The trail to Quarry Rock begins with a steep section up a trail of tree roots.
One of the most popular hiking trails in Deep Cove, North Vancouver is a rocky outcrop known as Quarry Rock. Part of the easternmost section of the Baden Powell Trail, this viewpoint looks over the Indian Arm and the mountains around Belcarra. If you’re looking to enjoy the peace and quiet hike mid-week, or very early in the morning on the weekends. Quarry Rock Trail Details.
The view of the city from Dog Mountain.
A little bit of a more challenging “easy” hike, Dog Mountain has great views for a relatively short hike up Mount Seymour. At only five kilometres round trip and little elevation gain, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over Vancouver on a clear day. Watch your footing over slippery tree routes as you make your way up and back down the trail. Dog Mountain Trail Details.
The reflection of the clouds off of Cheakamus Lake in Whistler, BC.
One of the easier hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park, Cheakamus Lake in Whistler offers beautiful views of a turquoise lake surrounded by towering mountains and lush forests. Camp overnight, or just enjoy a day at the lake before heading back. While the total length of the trail is 16 kilometres return, you reach the lake after only three kilometres, and the campground at the four kilometre marker giving you the option of for a shorter or longer hike as desired. Cheakamus Lake Trail Details.
Norvan Falls in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park.
On the longer side of the easy hikes listed here, this 14 kilometre partial loop trail in North Vancouver, is mostly flat, well trafficked year round hike. It’s a popular option with trail runners, dog walkers and families and has good parking availability and washrooms at the trail head. Norvan Falls Trail Details.
Gold Creek Falls
A view of Gold Creek in Golden Ears Provincial Park.
Drive east to Golden Ears Provincial Park for this short, beginner hike. The Gold Creek trail follows the creek up through the forest before coming to the falls lookout after about an hour of hiking. The 5.5 kilometre return trail makes it a good early season hike that is suitable for all ages and is dog friendly. Gold Creek Falls Trail Details.
Just north of Port Moody you’ll find this manmade lake maintained by BC Hydro. There are several nice beach areas to enjoy and an eight kilometre loop trail around the lake which crosses over a floating bridge. Pack your bathing suit and enjoy a dip in the lake once you’ve completed the hike. Buntzen Lake Trail Details.
With so many trails to choose from in the lower mainland, you’ve got lots of options for your hiking plans. If you’re new to the area, visiting for the weekend, or just want to snag the best views, here’s where you can find them on these 10 best hikes around the Vancouver area. What other ones would you recommend adding to the list? Let us know if the comments below!
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to hike on a busy summer weekend, make sure you arrive early to be able to find parking near the trail head. Looking for more peace and quiet? Hike early morning mid-week to avoid the crowds.
At the top of any 10 best hiking list for British Columbia you’ll find Garibaldi Lake. With its turquoise-coloured water nestled between alpine mountains and a spectacular glacier as the backdrop, it is one of the most scenic destinations around Vancouver. Just south of Whistler you’ll find the trailhead for this 18 kilometre round trip hike. The first 6 kilometres are a series of switchbacks that might just feel like they’ll go on forever, but push through to the junction and you’ll find yourself at the tip of this picturesque lake – you won’t be disappointed! Garibaldi Lake Trail Details.
The view of Garibaldi Lake from the top of Panorama Ridge.
The name says it all. The views from Panorama Ridge are some of the most scenic in the Garibaldi Provincial Park area with views over Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk and Helm Lake. While this hike at 30 kilometres round trip can be completed as a very long day hike, it’s generally more enjoyable to spend a night camping at Garibaldi Lake (see above) before continuing on to the ridge the next day. However you choose to complete it, it will be well worth the effort! Panorama Ridge Trail Details.
The view of Black Tusk from the Panorama Ridge Trail.
The jagged edges of the Black Tusk make it an easily identifiable mountain peak near Whistler, making it the perfect landmark to be hiked. It’s a full day hike at 29 kilometres round trip, or a weekend adventure if you choose to camp overnight at Garibaldi Lake (see above). The last section of the trail is a scramble over loose shale towards the base of the Tusk. Make note that BC Parks does not maintain a trail past this point and continuing on is at your own risk. If you choose to proceed to the base of the Tusk you’ll find views over the entire area surrounding Garibaldi Lake. Black Tusk Trail Details.
The view of Upper Joffre Lakes.
Located north of Pemberton, this hike with three stunning, glacier fed lakes makes the 10 kilometre round trip trek one with lots of pay off. From the trailhead it only takes about 15 minutes to reach the first of the three lakes. After you’ve enjoyed the view, head back to the main trail as you wind your way up to the middle lake. Home to the famous “log photo” this is a good spot for a quick rest break before you ascend up to the final lake. Once you’ve made it to the top you can wander around the campground and find your best vantage point to enjoy the lake and glacier backdrop before heading back. Joffre Lakes Trail Details.
A view from the Diez Vistas Trail near Buntzen Lake.
Head east to Buntzen Lake in Port Moody for this top 10 hike near Vancouver. Named for is ten views, this hike offers beautiful scenery overlooking Indian Arm as you make your way around the Buntzen Lake area. The 15 kilometre loop trail makes for a full day out, so pack a lunch and enjoy a dip in the lake after the hike! Diez Vistas Trail Details.
A view of Howe Sound from Tunnel Bluffs.
Incredible views over Howe Sound await on this trail that starts from the Sea to Sky Highway. The first two kilometres of the trail are straight up the mountain so be sure to pace yourself as you climb over 500 metres in elevation. After that enjoy a walk along a flat section of an old logging road before arriving to your final viewpoint. Tunnel Bluff Trail Details.
Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Looking for a longer hike to work out your legs on? Try the 22 kilometre round trip trek to Elfin Lakes and back. It’s a longer distance than many of the hikes on our site, however the elevation gain is gradual making it less challenging than some of the shorter, steeper hikes listed here. Two back country cabins, one about halfway and one at the end, make for great spots to stop for a lunch break. Bring your bathers and enjoy a refreshing dip in the lake at the top! Elfin Lakes Trail Details.
St. Marks Summit
Howe Sound from St. Mark’s Summit.
Park of the Howe Sound Crest Trail, save this hike for a sunny day for spectacular views over Howe Sound. Begin your ascent from the Cypress Ski Resort parking lot keeping an eye out for the map board and signs along the way. The trail starts off gradually winding up the mountainside, then crosses a few bridges before a series of steep switchbacks bring you to the scenic lookout point. St. Marks Summit Trail Details.
Wedgemount Lake north of Whistler.
It may be one of the most difficult hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park, but the spectacular alpine scenery and less busy trail make the grueling trek well worth it. It’s a steep hike up a series of switch backs and rockslides to this glacier lake. Pack a few extra layers for the top as it is significantly cooler with the breeze coming off of the glacier and then sit back and enjoy the view – you’ve earned it! Wedgemount Lake Trail Details.
The view of the backcountry from Mt. Seymour.
This winter ski hill makes the perfect summer hiking spot once the snow has melted. The peak of Mount Seymour offers a panoramic view of Vancouver and the Coastal Mountain Range. You’ll find ample parking at the Mount Seymour ski resort base for the start of this hike as well as washrooms. Mount Seymour Trail Details.
All of the hikes listed here are rated as intermediate or advanced and should only be attempted with proper footwear, a day pack with the 10 essentials and a hiking buddy.
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There are plenty of things to see and experience in the outdoors around Vancouver but one of the unique attractions along the trails in the region is crossing a suspension bridge. Most suspension bridges in the area are built above raging rivers, some above deep canyons, making the crossing of these bridges a spectacular viewpoint.
By definition, a suspension bridge is one where the weight on the deck of the bridge hangs below and is supported by vertical cables that are attached to larger cables that run horizontally above. The larger cables are then anchored at the ends of the bridge to support the structure.
While the Lions Gate Bridge is an example of a suspension bridge, we’ll be focusing on suspension bridges for foot traffic only near Vancouver and the south western BC region. Thanks to Mark’s clothing store for the great hiking attire! Here’s an alphabetical list of the suspension bridges in the area:
Buntzen Lake Suspension Bridge
The suspension bridge at the north end of Buntzen Lake.
Located at the north end of Buntzen Lake, the suspension bridge connects the trail along the west side of the lake with the east side. The bridge is located just beyond the north beach area and spans a channel of water between Buntzen Lake and McCombe Lake. Hikers doing the loop around Buntzen Lake or the Diez Vistas Trail will cross this bridge.
Cal-Cheak Suspension Bridge
The Cal Cheak Suspension Bridge near the campsite.
The Cal-Cheak suspension bridge is located just south of Whistler at the Cal-Cheak Recreation Site (campsite). The bridge crosses Callaghan Creek and, looking downstream from the bridge, you can see where the Cheakamus River and Callagahan Creek join. The bridge is part of the Sea To Sky Trail and connects the campsite with trails on the west side of the river, allowing people to hike to Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is Vancouver’s most famous suspension bridge to walk across, spanning the spectacular Capilano River below. The site is impressive as, in addition to the suspension bridge, there are other attractions to explore, such as the Cliff Walk overlooking the canyon and the Treetops Adventure, a series of suspension bridges connected to landings on Douglas Fir trees. The Capilano Suspension Bridge does have an admission fee but it gives visitors a great experience on what the Pacific Northwest rainforests are like without requiring hiking gear or having to venture deep into the backcountry.
Cascade Falls Suspension Bridge
The suspension bridge next to Cascade Falls in Mission.
Located northeast of Mission, BC, the suspension bridge connects two viewing platforms next to the impressive Cascade Falls. While the drive is quite long, the hike is quite short as you can hear the roar of the falls from the parking lot just a short distance up the trail.
Cheakamus River Suspension Bridge
The Cheakamus River suspension bridge in the Whistler Interpretive Forest.
The Cheakamus River Suspension Bridge is located in the Whistler Interpretive Forest and is used to connect trails along the west and east side of the Cheakamus River. The bridge is a multi-use bridge, a bit wider than most so that mountain bikers can also cross from one side to the other. Hikes exploring the Riverside Trail will pass this bridge and another popular nearby hike is the Crater Rim Trail, which passes nearby Logger’s Lake.
Gin & Tonic Suspension Bridge
The Gin & Tonic Suspension Bridge near Rainbow Lake in Whistler.
The Gin & Tonic Suspension Bridge is located along the trail to Rainbow Lake in Whistler. Not to be confused with the first larger cable bridge on the trail, it’s the second bridge bridge that crosses Gin & Tonic Creek. A sign attached to the bridge reads “Decking on the Gin & Tonic Suspension Bridge will be removed for the winter season”, so you’ll have to experience this suspension bridge during the summer months.
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
The Lynn Canyon suspension bridge.
The suspension bridge across Lynn Canyon in North Vancouver is an impressive sight as you cross high above the Lynn Creek below. Located next to the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre, the bridge connects hiking trails on both sides of the creek, including the popular Twin Falls loop. The bridge is also part of the Baden Powell Trail, a long trail that crosses the entire North Shore.
Norvan Creek Suspension Bridge
The suspension bridge crossing Norvan Creek.
The suspension bridge crossing Norvan Creek is located just down stream from Norvan Falls and is usually referenced as the point of entry into the deep backcountry of North Vancouver. The trail continuing across this bridge heads to long and very difficult trails, such as the Hanes Valley and Lynn Lake, which generally are covered in snow into the early summer months. The bridge is a popular point of interest for those hiking to Norvan Falls.
Skypilot Suspension Bridge
The Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge at the top of the Sea To Sky Gondola.
Located at the top of the Sea To Sky Gondola in Squamish, the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge is about 100-meters long with incredible views of Howe Sound and the tower Sky Pilot Mountain. This suspension bridge is one of the few that doesn’t cross a river and was built to connect the lodge to a separate viewing platform. Hikers can access the suspension bridge by hiking up the steep Sea To Summit Trail and then taking the Gondola back down for $10. If you’re less inclined to do this challenging hike, you can take the Gondola to the top.
Train Wreck Suspension Bridge
The suspension bridge across the Cheakamus River to the Whistler Train Wreck site.
The bridge across the Cheakamus River next to the Whistler Train Wreck site was built in 2016 to make it easier for hikers to access a piece of Whistler’s history. The bridge has a beautiful design to it, with a metal wheel shape on each side resembling an old train wheel. It’s an easy walk to the Train Wreck site and crossing the rugged Cheakmus River gives you an added bonus of a spectacular view of the rushing river below.
How many of these suspension bridges have you crossed?
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