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Vancouver’s Best Day Hikes: From Coast Trails to Alpine Adventures

Vancouver’s Best Day Hikes: From Coast Trails to Alpine Adventures

Jasmin Spence |

Vancouver’s Best Day Hikes: From City Trails to Mountain Adventures

Vancouver is a nature lover’s paradise, offering a myriad of hiking trails both within the city limits and in the surrounding areas. Whether you’re looking for a quick urban escape or a more adventurous mountain trek, there’s a perfect hike for you. Here’s a guide to the best day hikes, from close-to-home trails to those worth a short drive.

In and Around Vancouver: Urban Escapes

1. The Grouse Grind: The Ultimate Elevation Challenge

Known as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster,” the Grouse Grind is a must-do for any Vancouver hiker. This steep and strenuous 2.9-kilometer trail rewards you with panoramic views of the city from the top of Grouse Mountain.

  • Trailhead: Grouse Mountain Base
  • Distance: 2.9 km
  • Elevation Gain: 800 m
  • Difficulty: Hard

Insider Tip: Start early to avoid the crowds, and bring cash or a card for the Skyride down.

2. St. Mark’s Summit: Spectacular Coastal Views

Part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail, St. Mark’s Summit offers stunning views of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains. The 11-kilometer round trip is challenging but incredibly rewarding.

  • Trailhead: Cypress Mountain Resort
  • Distance: 11 km
  • Elevation Gain: 460 m
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Pro Tip: On a clear day, you can see all the way to Vancouver Island. Pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic with a view.

3. Lynn Loop: Tranquil Forest Walk

For a peaceful escape, Lynn Loop in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park is perfect. This 5.1-kilometer loop trail meanders through lush forest, offering a serene retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle.

  • Trailhead: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park
  • Distance: 5.1 km
  • Elevation Gain: 240 m
  • Difficulty: Easy

Pro Tip: Extend your hike by exploring the nearby Twin Falls or the historic debris chute.

4. Dog Mountain: Short Hike, Big Rewards

Dog Mountain is a great option for those seeking a short hike with spectacular views. The 5-kilometer round trip trail offers stunning views of Vancouver and Mount Baker on clear days.

  • Trailhead: Mount Seymour Parking Lot
  • Distance: 5 km
  • Elevation Gain: 170 m
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Insider Tip: This trail can get muddy, especially after rain, so wear appropriate footwear. It’s also dog-friendly!

Venturing Further: Squamish, Whistler, and Chilliwack

5. The Chief: Squamish’s Iconic Hike

The Stawamus Chief, or simply “The Chief,” is a granite monolith offering three peaks with stunning views of Howe Sound and Squamish. Each peak provides a unique vantage point.

  • Trailhead: Stawamus Chief Provincial Park
  • Distance: 11 km (round trip for all three peaks)
  • Elevation Gain: 600 m
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Insider Tip: The trail includes steep sections and ladders. Gloves can be helpful for the climb.

6. Garibaldi Lake: A Turquoise Jewel

In Garibaldi Provincial Park, the hike to Garibaldi Lake takes you through lush forests and meadows to a stunning glacial lake. The turquoise waters are a sight to behold.

  • Trailhead: Rubble Creek Parking Lot
  • Distance: 18 km (round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 820 m
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Pro Tip: Start early and bring a swimsuit for a refreshing (albeit cold) swim in the lake.

7. Joffre Lakes: Three Spectacular Lakes

Joffre Lakes offers a moderately challenging hike with views of three stunning turquoise lakes, each more beautiful than the last, set against a backdrop of glaciers and waterfalls.

  • Trailhead: Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
  • Distance: 10 km (round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 400 m
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Insider Tip: Start early to beat the crowds and enjoy the serene beauty of the lakes.

8. Black Tusk: For the Adventurous

For a true alpine adventure, Black Tusk in Garibaldi Provincial Park is a challenging hike with a steep scramble near the summit. The views from the top are unparalleled.

  • Trailhead: Rubble Creek Parking Lot
  • Distance: 29 km (round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,740 m
  • Difficulty: Hard

Pro Tip: Ensure you’re well-prepared with plenty of water, snacks, and gear for the scramble.

9. Lindeman Lake: A Hidden Gem in Chilliwack

This short but steep hike leads to a beautiful emerald-green lake surrounded by rugged cliffs and dense forest. It’s perfect for a picnic and a swim.

  • Trailhead: Chilliwack Lake Road
  • Distance: 3.4 km (round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 300 m
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Insider Tip: Continue on to Greendrop Lake for a longer hike and more stunning scenery.

10. Mount Cheam: Panoramic Views Galore

Mount Cheam offers a relatively straightforward hike with incredible views of the Fraser Valley, Mount Baker, and surrounding peaks. The trail takes you through alpine meadows, perfect for photography.

  • Trailhead: Chipmunk Creek FSR (requires a 4WD vehicle)
  • Distance: 9.5 km (round trip)
  • Elevation Gain: 700 m
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Pro Tip: The trailhead is accessible via a rough forest service road. Ensure your vehicle is up to the task or consider carpooling with someone who has a 4WD.

Packing Essentials for Day Hikes

Whether staying close to Vancouver or venturing further afield, here’s a checklist to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike:

  • Water: Stay hydrated, especially on strenuous hikes.
  • Snacks and Meals: High-energy snacks and a substantial lunch for longer trails.
  • Layered Clothing: Weather can change quickly, especially at higher elevations.
  • Proper Footwear: Sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support.
  • Navigation Tools: Map, compass, or GPS—cell service can be unreliable.
  • First Aid Kit: Always be prepared for minor injuries.
  • Safety Gear: Bear spray, whistle, and a multi-tool for emergencies.
  • sunnysoc + sunnystring: Keep those shades protected!

Final Thoughts

Vancouver’s proximity to both urban and remote hiking trails makes it a hiker’s paradise. Whether you’re looking for a quick escape from the city or an adventurous trek in the mountains, there’s a trail for you. So lace up your boots, pack your gear, and hit the trails to discover the breathtaking beauty of British Columbia.

Happy hiking!