15 Beautiful Hikes Around Vancouver, BC

Hikes around Vancouver

Perched on the southwestern corner of British Columbia, Vancouver is surrounded by impressive provincial parks, forests and mountain ranges which offer an array of hiking opportunities. There are so many wonderful hikes around Vancouver which showcase the area’s rugged beauty, and luckily you don’t have to travel far to find them. Within 30 minutes of leaving the city you can be wandering through lush rainforests and hiking up dramatic mountain peaks which overlook spectacular fjords and rivers.  

Whether you’re new to Vancouver or visiting for a few days and want to know where to find the best views, I’ve rounded up the 15 of the most beautiful hikes around Vancouver. Some are short and easy trails, whilst others are more challenging and technical but they all offer incredibly scenic views. This post also includes practical information such as trail etiquette tips and Leave No Trace principles to help you prepare for your next hike.

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BEST HIKES AROUND VANCOUVER

There are so many great hikes around Vancouver so I’ve split this guide into 4 sections to help you find your next hike; North Shore, Howe Sound, Fraser Valley, and Whistler. At the end of this post you’ll find a map with the locations of all of these hikes around Vancouver.

Some of these hikes can be quite challenging due to the distance and elevation gain. Before you set out on any hike, you should always make sure you are fully prepared and have researched the hike. I’ve included some practical tips about staying safe as well as information on reducing your impact on nature and wildlife at the end of this post. 

Due to the popularity of some hikes and high visitor volumes, BC Parks introduced a day pass system in the summer to help with physical distancing on the trails. At this time, day use passes are not required to visit any BC Parks but make sure you regularly check the website as any changes to this requirement will be posted there.

Hikes in the North Shore

1. Quarry Rock (currently closed)

This is easily one of my favourite hikes around Vancouver. It’s a relatively short and easy hike but it offers beautiful views of the Indian Arm and the mountains around Belcarra Regional Park. The first section of the hike involves climbing a series of wooden steps through the forest.

Once you reach the top, the trail continues to wind through the dense woodland of Douglas Fir and Hemlock trees, passing over small bridges and little streams. It’s a typical North Shore hike and the terrain is beautiful. The trail leads to a large rocky ridge known as Quarry Rock. It’s a lovely place to sit and take in the scenic views on a clear day.

Location: Deep Cove
Distance: 3.8 km
Elevation gain: 100 meters
Difficulty: Easy
Dogs: Yes

Beautiful hikes around Vancouver
The trail starts at Deep Cove in North Vancouver and is part of the longer Baden Powell hiking trail which connects Deep Cove to Horseshoe Bay.

2. Eagle Bluffs

Eagle Bluffs offers spectacular views of the city of Vancouver and Howe Sound. On a clear day, you may even be able to see as far as Vancouver Island and Mount Baker. 

The trail starts from the downhill ski area of Cypress Mountain. Walk towards the nearest set of chair lifts and look for a trail on the left hand side that leads into the trees. It can be a bit difficult to find and the first time we did it we actually got lost. The trail passes near Yew Lake so use this as a reference point.

The trail ascends quickly through a series of switchbacks and is quite steep at times so take your time and stop to look back at the views if you need to catch your breath. The trail passes by Cabin lake and Owen Lake before heading back downhill through the forest and out to the large view point.

Location: Cypress Provincial Park
Distance: 8 km
Elevation gain: 350 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Dogs: Yes

Eagle Bluffs hikes near Vancouver
Although the elevation doesn’t seem too challenging, this hike involves quite a lot of uphill and downhill sections which will get your heart racing!

3. St Mark’s Summit

This may be one of the most iconic hikes around Vancouver. You’ve probably seen photos of the famous viewpoint which looks out over Howe Sound, the Tantalus Range, and the Gulf Islands in the distance. 

The trail follows several ski runs uphill before veering right through the forest to join the Howe Sound Crest Trail. Along the way there are some stunning views through the trees of the Lions. You’ll go through a small meadow, over bridges, and up a series of switchbacks which become gradually steeper. 

Eventually the trail will level out and you’ll have reached the upper region of St Mark’s Summit. There are a number of scenic viewpoints along the short ridge so make sure you have enough time to see them before heading back down.

Location: Cypress Provincial Park
Distance: 11 km
Elevation gain: 460 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Dogs: Yes – on a leash

Beautiful hikes around Vancouver - St Marks Summit
View along St Marks Summit
St Marks Summit
St Mark’s Summit is part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail and begins at Cypress Mountain ( © Jeff / Adobe Stock)

4. Mount Strachan

If you’re looking for a more challenging hike around Vancouver, try Mount Strachan. This hike takes you up one of the three mountains that make up the Cypress Ski Resort area, passing the historical crash site of a Royal Canadian Navy T-33 Jet.

The terrain is testing and difficult at times as you have to scramble up an area of the Howe Sound Crest Trail known as Christmas Gully. Hiking poles can be useful for this uphill section across the rocky creek bed. Make sure you have bug spray for this section as there can be a lot of insects and mosquitos in the summer months. The trail is well marked at the start but as you start to climb higher the markers are not always obvious so download a map or use the AllTrails app.

On the way back down, you’ll go down the Old Mount Strachan route where you’ll see the site of the T-33 plane crash of 1963. The area has been preserved and there are still several pieces of the aircraft in the forest to mark the site.

Location: Cypress Provincial Park
Distance: 10.5 km
Elevation gain: 550 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Dogs: Yes – on a leash

Mount Strachan
The views from the top are incredible and on a clear day you can see Howe Sound and the surrounding mountain ranges. Unfortunately when we went, the cloud just wouldn’t lift but we did manage to get a glimpse of the view!

5. Dog Mountain

Located at Mount Seymour, Dog Mountain is another easy yet rewarding hike near Vancouver. The trail has minimal elevation but watch out for some rocky sections where you have to step over tree roots.

The trail passes First Lake and several small streams where you’ll cross some cute wooden bridges. There are a few hills to climb along the way but it’s a gentle incline. As you get closer to the peak, the trail veers left and leads you out of the forest towards a lovely view of North Vancouver. On a clear day, you can sit and look out at Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, and downtown Vancouver. 

Location: Mount Seymour Provincial Park
Distance: 5 km
Elevation gain: Minimal
Difficulty: Easy
Dogs: Yes – on a leash

Dog Mountain
Dog Mountain is a nice spot to eat your lunch but watch out for the crows who will quickly swoop in and steal your food if you turn your back!

6. Grouse Grind (currently closed)

This popular hike climbs more than 850 meters in just 3 km and requires physical strength and stamina to complete! 

The trail begins on the right hand side of Grouse Mountain Gondola and is a continuous uphill climb. It does level out for a little while until you reach a fork in the trail where it continues upwards over rocks and roots.

Each quarter is marked with a large sign to encourage hikers but also to help you decide whether or not you want to continue. If you are finding it difficult at the first quarter or don’t have enough water, then it is probably better to stop here and try again another day. The third quarter is the steepest and requires you to cross over rock in some sections. Once you reach the top, you can enjoy the views and meet some of the animals that live in the Wildlife Refuge, including the two grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola.

The trail is currently closed due to icy conditions and may remain closed until Spring depending on the weather.

Location: Grouse Mountain
Distance: 2.9 km
Elevation gain: 853 meters
Difficulty: Difficult
Dogs: No

Hikes around Vancouver - Grouse Grind
Grouse Grind is a tough but fun hike and people like to challenge themselves to see how quickly they can complete it. At the top, you'll meet a couple of the locals, Grinder and Coola (© Christina Preecy)

Hikes around Howe Sound

7. Tunnel Bluffs

Tunnel Bluffs is one of my favourite hikes around Vancouver. The trail starts from Lions Bay and climbs steeply up a series of switchbacks. After about 40 minutes, you’ll veer left and continue through the forest. The rest of the trail is flat or has a very minimal elevation gain. You’ll cross over a couple of wooden log bridges that take you over some small creeks. 

As you get closer to Tunnel Bluffs, the trail comes to some rocks that you’ll need to climb up. These can be quite muddy after a few days of rain so make sure you have the right footwear on for this short section. Once you get to the top, you’ll be greeted with an incredible view looking out towards Bowen Island, Keats Island, and the Sunshine Coast. 

Location: Cypress Provincial Park
Distance: 11.5 km
Elevation gain: 470 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Dogs: Yes

Tunnel Bluffs
Tunnel Bluffs View
Beautiful hikes around Vancouver - Tunnel Bluffs
Below, you can see the Sea To Sky Highway and the ferries arriving and leaving Horseshoe Bay. It's a lovely spot to watch the sunset in the summer.

8. Watersprite Lake

Located in the southern region of Garibaldi Provincial Park, this hike isn’t the easiest to get to but the views are worth it. To get to the trail head you’ll need a 4×4 to drive 20 km down the Mamquam and Skookum Forestry Service Roads. The trail passes Skookum Dam and Skullhead Creek, before climbing up a steep and rocky section to a viewpoint overlooking the valley below. 

The trail continues over a rockslide before entering the forest at the far end. The final section involves crossing a second steep boulder field. Once you reach the top of the rocks, the beautiful turquoise coloured Watersprite Lake comes into view, along with the stunning Martin Peak and Dreadnought Peak.

Location: Squamish
Distance: 17 km
Elevation gain: 660 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Dogs: No

Watersprite Lake
The lake is the highlight of this trail but there are also several incredible views along the way where you can admire the surrounding mountains and the Watersprite Creek Valley (© edb3_16 /Adobe Stock)

Hikes in the Fraser Valley

9. Lindeman Lake

If you’re looking for short but beautiful hikes around Vancouver, Lindeman Lake is a wonderful day-hiking location. The trail takes you through the forest and climbs steadily before reaching this gorgeous, green lake which is surrounded by a lush green forest and mountain peaks.

The small beach area at the lake is a beautiful spot for a picnic. If you want to extend your hike, you can continue to Greendrop Lake. Follow the trail around the lake shore and over the boulder field to the other end of the lake. From here it’s another 4 km to the lake making it an 11 km round trip. It’s quite a technical hike and involves traversing several large boulder fields but if you’re an experienced hiker it’s a great hike.

Location: Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park
Distance: 3.4 km
Elevation gain: 300 meters
Difficulty: Easy / Intermediate
Dogs: Yes

Lindeman Lake
Lindeman Lake is a short hike with a big reward. The turquoise lake is a beautiful place to relax in the summer. Or you can continue on to Greendrop Lake if you want a longer hike.

10. Cascade Falls

This is less of a hike and more of a short trail, but I’ve included it as Cascade Falls is a beautiful gem in the Fraser Valley. The trail takes you through the forest to the scenic waterfall and the suspension bridge that crosses the river. The best time to visit is in early Spring or after a heavy rainfall as the waterfall is more powerful and flows down into the canyon.

Location: Mission
Distance: 0.75 km
Elevation gain: 40 meters
Difficulty: Easy
Dogs: Yes

Cascade Falls
Cascade Falls is a pretty waterfall in the Fraser Valley. It's only a short walk but is a great spot for photography.

Hikes near Whistler

11. Garibaldi Lake

Nestled between alpine mountains, Garibaldi Lake is one of the most scenic places in British Columbia. The trail begins with 6 km of switch backs which can be steep at times. Shortly after the 6 km mark, you’ll reach a junction where you can go right directly to Garibaldi Lake, or left to Taylor Meadows. If you choose the latter, you’ll add on a few kilometres to your hike but it’s definitely worth it in the summer and early fall when the meadows are filed with alpine flowers.

The trail meanders through the meadows before leading to a series of downhill switch backs that will take you down to the lake. The hike takes about 5 – 6 hours in total. A lot of people choose to camp overnight at Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake so they can hike Panorama Ridge or Black Tusk the next day. If you choose to do this, you’ll need to make a reservation at one of the two campsites in advance as they sell out quickly each year.

Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park
Distance: 18 km
Elevation gain: 820 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Dogs: No

Garibaldi Lake
There are so many beautiful hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park but Garibaldi Lake is one of my favourites. You can do a day hike or you can choose to camp overnight at the campsite and do another hike the next day.

12. Panorama Ridge

This is probably one of my favourite hikes around Vancouver. The beginning of the trail is the same as Garibaldi Lake but when you reach Taylor Meadows, you need to follow the signs to Panroama Ridge instead of the lake.

The final section of the trail is very steep as you begin to scale the side of the mountain. The terrain eventually becomes all rocks and you need to scramble to reach the top. Take your time and watch your footing as some rocks are loose. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most scenic views in Garibaldi Provincial Park! Due to the distance and elevation gain, many people choose to split the hike over two days.

Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park
Distance: 30 km
Elevation gain: 1520 meters
Difficulty: Difficult
Dogs: No

Panorama Ridge
Panorama Ridge Views
View from Panorama Ridge
Panorama Ridge is a challenging hike due to the distance and elevation gain but the view is definitely worth it! You can hike it in one day but many people prefer to split it over two days.

13. Joffre Lakes (currently closed)

Joffre Lakes is one of Vancouver’s most beautiful and popular hikes which passes three stunning turquoise lakes. Despite the distance, it’s a relatively moderate hike which offers impressive views of the Matier glacier which towers above.

Lower Joffre Lake is only a short walk from the main trail and on a clear day you can see the Glacier in the distance. The section between Lower and Middle Joffre Lakes is the most challenging part of the trail as you climb through old growth forests and a boulder field. Luckily, you’re rewarded with sweeping views over the coast mountains and valleys below. On the way to the Upper Joffre Lake, you’ll come across a scenic waterfall before scrambling up some more rocks and roots to reach the top to find the third and final lake.

Location: Pemberton
Distance: 10 km
Elevation gain: 370 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Dogs: No

Joffre Lakes
All three lakes offer incredible views of Matier Glacier. You'll find the iconic log at Middle Joffre Lake which is a popular photo spot (© Karamysh /Adobe Stock)

14. Wedgemount Lake

This is a spectacular but challenging hike and isn’t suitable for beginners. It’s one of the more difficult trails in Garibaldi Provincial Park and climbs 1100 meters in just 7 km. The trail begins by weaving through a second-generation growth forest before climbing through a series of switchbacks. You’ll cross a rockslide which offers lovely views of the valley below. The trail becomes steeper as it continues uphill. Keep an eye on your footing but don’t miss Wedgemount Waterfall which is visible at a few points along the trail.

The last section of the trail is the steepest as you have to scramble over rocks to the top. Hiking poles are recommended for this section. Climb carefully and eventually you’ll see the BCMC (British Columbia Mountaineering Club) hut come into view, as well as the exquisite turquoise-coloured Wedgemount Lake. Follow the trail to the end of the lake for a full view of the glacier.

Location: Garibaldi Provincial Park
Distance: 12 km
Elevation gain: 1160 meters
Difficulty: Difficult
Dogs: No

Wedgemount Lake
Wedgemount Lake is an incredible hike but is not suitable for beginners due to the length and technical nature of the hike (© Annee /Adobe Stock)

15. Stawamus Chief

The Stawamus Chief is one of the largest granite monoliths in North America towering 702 metres above Squamish. Known locally as the Chief, it’s one of the most popular rock climbing and hiking destinations along the Sea to Sky. It’s a steep intermediate hike which offers incredible views over Squamish, Howe Sound, and Garibaldi Provincial Park. There are three summits; First Peak, Second Peak and Third Peak.

The three peaks:
  • First Peak: 1.5 km trail with an elevation gain of 540 metres
  • Second Peak: 1.7 km trail with an elevation gain of 590 metres
  • Third Peak: 1.8 km trail with an elevation gain of 630 metres

Most people take the route up to Second Peak and then continue on to Third Peak which takes about 6 to 7 hours to complete. 

Location: Stawamus Chief Provincial Park
Distance: 11 km
Elevation gain: 600 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate
Dogs: Yes – on a leash

Stawamus Chief
Although it’s not an overly technical hike, it is challenging due to the steep incline but the views make it worth the effort (© Christina Preecy)

LOCATION DETAILS        

I’ve marked the trail heads for all of these hikes around Vancouver on the map below. To save this map, click on the star on the right hand side of the title. This will save the map to “Your Places” in the Google Maps so you will have it when you visit Vancouver. 

HIKING AROUND VANCOUVER – PRACTICAL INFORMATION

The majority of these trails are relatively popular and well-maintained but remember that there are certain precautions you need to take. Each year, a number of people get into trouble whilst out hiking and need to be rescued. This is often due to a lack of preparation. Don’t put yourself at risk, make sure you are properly informed and prepared.

Before you head out on any of these hikes around Vancouver, you must:

  • Research your trail and know how long it should take, the level of difficulty, and ensure you have enough food and water to sustain you during the hike.
  • Check BC Parks website for current trail conditions to make sure it is safe and there aren’t any restrictions in place.
  • Check the weather conditions and remember that the temperatures will be cooler as you gain elevation. The weather can change quickly in the mountains so make sure you take layers and waterproof clothing just in case.
  • Print a physical map of the trail or download an offline map. I use the AllTrails.
  • Tell someone your plans before heading off. This is really important as often you won’t have signal on the trails so you should make sure someone knows where you are going.
Leave no trace

Please follow the Leave No Trace Principles during your time in nature. These 7 principles are guidelines to help you plan, prepare and explore the outdoors more responsibly. They include staying on the designated trails, not touching or removing any natural objects, packing out all your trash, and respecting wildlife. By following these principles, you can reduce your impact on wildlife and nature. 

Remember you are in the wild so you may encounter wildlife such as coyotes, mountain lions, and bears. Seeing a bear is an incredible experience but safety is the top priority. Bears are solitary creatures and will fiercely defend themselves and their cubs. For your safety and theirs, it is best to avoid any bear encounters. I recommend reading this article on bear safety to make sure you’re properly prepared. 

Where next?

There are so many beautiful hikes around Vancouver and these are just 15 of my favourites. I hope you found this post useful and it gives you some ideas for your next hike. 

If you’re looking for more inspiration for things to do around Vancouver and British Columbia, I have lots of guides you may find helpful:

If you have any questions about hiking in Vancouver, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them!

LOVE FROM STEPH

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